Mindhacking: What You Need To Know

Can you hack your mind to success?
If you don't hack your own mind, someone else will. 
If you don't hack your own mind, someone else will. 

To hear Patrycja Slawuta put it, it's not too far-fetched to compare humans to computers. Both rely on central programs, both operate by way of their own technology, and both can be updated.

The NYC-based researcher and co-founder of Self Hackathon is in Australia to talk about 'mindhacking', a practice by which, she says, you can consciously exercise virtues such as self-awareness, self-confidence and self-compassion.

It's these three virtues, she argues, that are vital to hold onto in an age where there's so much digital noise, it's all too easy to function on autopilot. In fact, at a time when data is king and companies like Facebook know what we want before we do, Slawuta says if you don't hack your own mind, someone else will.

"So the idea is we are very fascinated by technology and carry technology with us, and every time our phone says we need an upgrade, we do that," Slawuta told HuffPost Australia.

"But there is a technology that is infinitely more important and complex and infinitely more rich and important for us to engage with, and that is the human technology."

Human technology? Please explain.

"Similar to a computer code, we get programmed," Slawuta said. "From early on, we get programmed. As children we learn 'this is what you do to get a reward, and if you do this you get punished'. And that's perfectly fine. I'd equate that to the factory settings on a phone, and then it's up to us to personalise it with certain apps and things going forward.

"The idea of mindhacking is understanding what your code is and how you can upgrade it."

While the technology metaphor can get a little tired after a while, what Slawuta is talking about is essentially being able to disrupt our own rhythms for a better outcome. To get off the hamster wheel, so to speak.

"Research tells us that 70 to 90 percent of us run on autopilot," she told HuffPost Australia. "It's the habits we form.

"Often, when you ask someone 'why do you do what you do?' their response will be 'just because'. Many people don't have the answer.

"Perhaps something happened 25 years ago and your response was the best solution at the time, but it hasn't changed since. You've kept running in the same mental loops.

"We have this entire world and human existence to explore but we run on those preset kind of paths. As I said before, research shows 70 - 90 percent of us are on autopilot. That's good if you are happy with that, but a lot of people aren't."

How I understand confidence is the ability to consciously turn thoughts into actions. A lot of us have lofty ideas of where we would like to go but not the confidence to make it happen.

So what are the first steps to hacking your own mind?

"The first is self awareness. And awareness is just being aware of your code, of those mental loops you're stuck in," Slawuta said.

"It's about observing yourself and acknowledging where you're at. Jung said you can't leave a place unless you have visited it and many people aren't ready to really fully acknowledge where we are. After awareness comes acceptance, and after acceptance comes change."

The second step relates to self confidence.

"So awareness is knowing where you are, but what you will see a lot is a lot of people who won't know where they want to go," Slawuta said. "Even if they know where they are, they don't know where to go.

"So how I understand confidence is the ability to consciously turn thoughts into actions. A lot of us have lofty ideas of where we would like to go but not the confidence to make it happen."

Self confidence is key.
Self confidence is key.

Finally, Slawuta says it's vital to tap into a sense of compassion.

"Things don't work out in life. We think we want to change something and we f--k up on the way," she said.

"Self compassion is a bubble bath for the psyche. It's the skill to say 'this is the bubble bath for my mind.' We make mistakes, we say stupid things, people laugh at us. How do you forgive yourself? How do you have compassion to keep on going? That's why it's so important."

While some may scoff at the idea of a 'bubble bath for the mind', Slawuta's main point has merit.

The digital marketplace is constantly amassing data so it can hack into the market of you.

To use Slawuta's words, "It's using our biases to get more eyeballs, to repackage our attention, to sell us things that we don't need, to use social pressure to get us to do something.

"If you're not hacking yourself and programming yourself, somebody else will."

Patrycja Slawuta will present with other global innovators and leaders at Creative innovation 2017 Asia Pacific taking place 13-15 November in Melbourne.

To find out more, head here.