How the ‘Stick Figure’ Diagram Helped Reprogram My Mind

Photo Credit: Chris Lawton/Unsplash

– James Allen, As A Man Thinketh.

Eight years ago, I was taking anti-depressants. I wanted to desperately get off them. I wanted to change from the inside out. I just didn’t know how.

One morning, I received an email from the Bob Proctor Matrixx event, which promised me all the strategies and tactics that I needed to change. The email also said there were only 2 places left. I had to confirm that day or lose my chance to meet Proctor. I bought the ticket.

In one of my earlier blog posts, I criticised the teachings of Bob Proctor on the use of affirmations. However, I’m indebted to him for teaching me an idea that I haven’t forgotten and which has become the foundation to all my personal growth – The Stick Figure diagram.

The Stick Figure Diagram

The room of thirty plus people went quiet as the lights were turned off and a single light ray zoomed onto the white board. Proctor grabbed a marker pen and drew one big circle that he divided into two: The Conscious Mind at the top and the Subconscious at the bottom. This circle signifies our head. This was then joined to a smaller circle, which is our body, and then he drew out of it hands and legs, which signified our behaviours – the point being that our mind controls our actions.

My mind wandered off as he continued the teachings.

It was an aha moment that literally changed my life. I don’t know if it was the setting or that the timing was right, but I got it emotionally and not just intellectually. I now knew that I had the power to not only examine myself, my actions and my dreams but to also change them.

The Stick figure diagram was created by Dr Thurman Fleet in the 1930s but was later used and taught by Bob Proctor. It’s simple and yet so effective. When we understand it, we immediately grasp the underlying foundation of self-help – We have the power to change our thoughts and that means we can change our behaviours.

We have two separate minds:

The Conscious mind which represents only 5% of our mind is the thinking mind, where we think freely and can accept or reject any idea. It gets information from our five senses and is rooted in the present. E.g. When crossing the road and we hear a car approaching, we immediately stop.

The Subconscious mind is like a super computer stored with a database of programmed behaviours, most of which we acquire between birth and the age of six. Almost 95% of our thoughts, decisions, emotions and actions are influenced from the programming in our subconscious mind. The subconscious is basically running our lives. Most of the time we are unaware of our behaviours, and if not addressed quickly enough, our thoughts crystallise into core beliefs, which become almost impossible to shift. E.g. how automatic it becomes to brush our teeth at night having done so for so many years, or how we can drive and listen to a podcast concurrently.

Many of us know that our minds control our actions and yet, only few of us actually change. Why do many us fail miserably with our resolutions? Why are we stuck within behaviours we dislike?

I think most of us don’t want to accept the real truth. The cold truth. The uncomfortable truth.

Our mind is truly a programmable supercomputer.

When we accept that fact, then we start to recognise that what we put in, we get out. It’s like our mind is the hardware and our thoughts, beliefs and paradigms are the software. Change the software or what goes into the hardware and what we see is something different.

If we set our alarms for 5am, every day and get up without fail for the next three months, we magically become morning people who enjoy the sounds of the birds chirping, the wonderous sound of silence and the inner peace that brings to us. We have reprogrammed the supercomputer with new software.

I came back from the event with a plan. I didn’t want to be that hard-nosed businessman who was driven by numbers, ‘bling’ symbols and prestige but instead I wanted to work on myself and help others do the same.

I looked back at the last few traumatic years – before I had my panic attacks that led to the anti-depressants – with new eyes. I saw that the beliefs I grew up with had affected my every action. Of course, I would follow the path of my forefathers in following money, success, prestige, and stress. I knew no other world. That was my software.

The drugs helped calm me down. The stick figure diagram showed me how I could now recognise that most of the time I am not my thoughts. Our rampaging mind is often bipolar, where we can go from one end of the spectrum to the other. Thoughts control all our body’s functions and our emotions, which in turn affect our behaviour and results.

I kept reminding myself that almost 95% of our thoughts being formed are done so without our conscious consent.

I now understood that the ambivalence I felt was merely how my new way of thinking was fighting with the old way. The anxiety I felt, and the panic attacks were just a message to me that I was going the wrong way against what I truly wanted from within. The anger and rage I felt was my frustration of not knowing what was wrong with me, and what to do about it.

With that knowledge came the passion to change my software and with it much of my behaviours. I also know that software needs constant updating. So, change or growth doesn’t end, it’s continual.

Why are you not updating your software? What are you waiting for to change?

I rise daily at 5 am, meditate, read and journal on my Self-awareness journey. Some of my reflections make it to my blog; others don’t. (

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