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Self-insight for success > Tools and theories for self insight > Is it Time to Reprogram Your Inner GPS?

Is it Time to Reprogram Your Inner GPS?

By Andrea Lewis

They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. What they don’t add is that before taking that single step you need to know your true starting point, the magnetic north to which your inner compass is pointing.

Setting Course for the New Destination 

Let us say we decide to change something in our lives – New Year’s Resolution anyone? – so we set a course for a goal of weight loss, fitness, new job; the list goes on. Now we need to set out on our journey. I am here and I want to get there. But what if we don’t know where our here really is? After all, there’s no point planning a route from Paris to London if you are currently in Rome.

Take the diet example. I am 15kg over the weight I have decided I want to be. To get the body I want I need to take in fewer calories than I expend (cue “pantry purge” and expensive gym membership). I am good to go and indeed go well for a week, 2, a month even and then…and then… I hit the buffers, ditch the gym clothes, eat that extra slice of cake, down a few glasses of red wine and figure “what the hell, I am happy as I am”. The wheels come off our wagon and the self-abuse starts: “Why am I so weak-willed? Why can’t I lose this weight? What is wrong with me?” We tell ourselves (and others) we want to lose the weight. Yet it doesn’t happen.

How Did I Get Back Here?

The reason? We all carry around inside our heads an “inner GPS” which is programmed by our self image, the way in which we view both ourselves and our interaction with the outside world. This image is as true as we believe it to be, neither more nor less. In other words, if your GPS is set to overweight rather than slim then that is the destination you will head for. Moreover, you will unconsciously course correct to get yourself back to where you are used to being until you can fully connect with that new image of you as slim. In other words, you cannot have anything that you can’t see yourself having.

The example of weight loss is an easy one to relate to but there are other examples of how an unhelpfully programmed GPS can derail the best intentions.

Amanda’s Story

Amanda was an intelligent, well-qualified woman with good work experience under her belt, highly suitable for the position she was offered. It wasn’t long, however, before problems arose and these centred on her interactions with her colleagues. If there was a way to take or cause offence, Amanda seemed to have a sixth sense for finding it. Furthermore, in conversation, no matter what the original topic, the subject invariably found its way back to Amanda.

After a while two main themes emerged; how over-qualified she was for the job, and how she was invariably right when others were invariably wrong. Understandably, neither opinion endeared her to her colleagues. Enemies emerged from the workplace woodwork on a regular basis, in bewildering numbers and possibly even before the enemy themselves were aware that they had been so designated.

Ill feeling emerged on both sides and then became entrenched. After all, not many of us are generous-hearted or objective enough to like someone who seems so determined to dislike us or who continually disparages our ability.

Unfortunately, Amanda’s ability to get under people’s skin was not limited to her colleagues. She was equally talented at doing the same to those above her. The result had the inevitability of a Greek tragedy. Two years after being hired Amanda was summarily fired. From Amanda’s perspective this result had come out of the blue. If you spoke to her she would tell you how she saw clearly the way in which systems could be improved in order to increase efficiency and indeed had many good, concrete ideas for doing so, but the good ideas got lost in the maelstrom of ill feeling and resentment that she managed to stir up.

Gaining Clarity

Despite her best conscious intentions, Amanda’s GPS was not directing her to being an effective and well-regarded employee, whose suggestions were welcomed and listened to with interest.
Instead, it directed her in every interaction to the goal of needing to prove herself, to vanquish enemies, even to SEE enemies everywhere.

In order to gain clarity about what was actually driving her, a useful step for Amanda would have been to complete the following statements:

  • I_________________________
  • Others____________________
  • Life _______________________

Judging by her actions in the workplace, her answers might well have been along the lines of:

I constantly need to prove my worth.

And, next,

Others are not supportive of me.

or, even worse,

Others are out to get me


Life requires me to fight my corner at all times. 

Regardless of her perceived starting point, this is where she unerringly headed and without this insight the pattern would repeat endlessly. Amanda was not less well-regarded nor, initially, less well-liked until her inner GPS pushed her into testing others again and again.

Lasting Change

If we genuinely wish to effect lasting change – no matter what the area – then we need to know where our starting point is, to understand what role we have assigned ourselves in the movie of our life and times. Changing our circumstances won’t achieve the desired result if our internal direction finder has its course set to some form of self-sabotage. Instead, we will discover that no matter which route we take we inexorably find ourselves back where we started, in our comfort zone. This may not in reality be all that comfortable but it is known, familiar, unchallenging. We might not be happy there, but at least we know what to expect both of it and of ourselves.

If you genuinely want to create lasting change in your life your “single step” could be to get curious about the real self-image you have in your head. Question your automatic assumptions about the ‘You’ you think you know so well. Ask yourself “is this true? Could there be another interpretation?”

Bob Proctor said that people keep on doing things they don’t want to do and getting results they don’t want to have. I don’t believe Amanda wanted her job to play out the way it did and she certainly didn’t want the result she got but what are the odds that yet another chapter in her particular book will follow that same script unless she learns to rewrite it? 

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