The Big Idea
What if WHAT you think doesn’t matter?
Questions I Answer
- How can I question what I think?
- What does mindset have to do with productivity?
- How can I figure out if my opinions are my own?
Actions to Take
- Actively seek out one different thing that challenges your current opinions and beliefs.
- Invite someone who thinks differently than you to come and have a seat at your table.
- Ready to find clarity and the harmony you need to succeed and make 2021 your best year yet? Check out my course, The liveWELL Method!
Key Topics in the Show
What is a habit loop
Why it’s not what you think, but HOW you think that matters
How to determine if your opinions are truly your own
This is the intentional advantage podcast with your host, Tanya Dalton,
entrepreneur, best-selling author, nationally recognized productivity expert, and
mom of two. This season, Tanya is taking real to another level, sharing more of her
story and opinions, and engaging in conscious conversations to start bringing more
women together. Are you ready? Here’s your host, Tanya Dalton.
Hello, hello, everyone. Welcome to The Intentional Advantage podcast. I’m your host,
Tanya Dalton, and this is Episode 197.
I want to hit the ground running today. Last week was our very first episode of
season 16, and I am really excited about this season. And I can tell that you are too,
because I’m getting more messages about this season than ever before.
And I absolutely love it. I love that. You’re excited about this topic just as much as I
am. So are you ready for this? I know I am because like I said last week, it’s time. It is
time for all of us to fully engage in some conscious conversations so that we can
move forward together and build the world that we want where everyone, and I
mean everyone, has a seat at the table.
And more importantly, where we’re all able to feel heard and understood and to be
recognized for being exactly who we are, no matter what we think, what we believe,
or where we come from. So today I want to start with digging into not just what we
think, but how we think.
And I want you to pay close attention to what I just said there because it’s the how
that’s important. You see, understanding our thoughts is key because what we think
is ultimately influenced by how we think. And that’s something we don’t take a lot of
time for, is really diving in and thinking about how we think when it comes to our
The ‘how’ of what we think is unique and different for each and every one of us; it’s
largely influenced by our environment: the place where we were born, the people
that we’ve grown up around, and the different things that we’ve been exposed to. So
when it comes to our thinking, focusing on the how is critical; it’s so much more
important than the ‘what’ in the big picture.
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I mean, honestly, the ‘what’ shouldn’t matter. Obviously what you think is important
to you, but what I’m talking about here in terms of these conversations is that it
doesn’t matter what you think. What matters is how you get to those opinions and
how you get to those beliefs. And quite frankly, it shouldn’t matter if I think or believe
something different than you do, or if your neighbor thinks something different than
you, or the person halfway across the world thinks or believes something than you.
Every person on this planet is and should be entitled to their own thoughts, their
own opinions and beliefs, and whether everyone agrees or disagrees with you
personally, shouldn’t really matter. If anything, conflicting viewpoints spark
conversations, and they push ideas to become better.
Now, this is true if you’re the leader of a company, a leader in your community, or
let’s be honest, the leader of a country. This is really important. Diversity of thought is
the most important element to creating thriving, safe spaces for us to live and work
and grow. So why are we so frightened of it? Why does that make us nervous when
somebody else thinks differently?
After all, if you are secure with your own thoughts and beliefs, and you feel like
you’ve done your due diligence and you feel confident about your opinions, then
why does it matter? Whether the guy down the street or the woman who sits next to
you at your office happens to have a different viewpoint, or if they think differently
than you do, their opinion doesn’t negate yours at all.
Someone having a different perspective is not an assault on the way that you think,
it’s simply that they think or feel or believe differently than you do. And they are just
as entitled to their opinion as you are to yours. So we shouldn’t have to feel like
everyone we come into contact with believes the same things we do. I mean, can
you imagine how boring of a world it would be, truly, if we didn’t have different
thoughts and opinions?
I don’t know about you, but I love it when different people bring their ideas and
perspectives into the mix. Different viewpoints are what helps me grow and helps
me continuously challenge myself to do and to be better. Most importantly, it helps
me understand other people around me even more.
You’ve heard me talk on this podcast before, about how I encourage my team to
push back; how I want them to bring their ideas and their opinions to the table, even
when they go against mine because I truly think that’s what helps us as a company
do better, be better, and serve our customers and our clients better.
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But even more importantly to me is that I think that brings my team together closer,
that they all feel that they can bring their opinions to the table. And what we need
right now in the world is not more division, but more understanding. We need to
connect more. We need to connect deeper. We need more conscious conversations
unfolding even when they’re uncomfortable or when they’re difficult. That allows us
to get to this level of understanding and this comradery that we’re desperately in
We need to connect with other people, but here’s the thing: in order to fully
understand each other, whether you believe the same things that I do, or you believe
something entirely different, we’ve got to stop digging in our heels and assuming
that those people who happen to disagree with us are wrong. Or even worse, that
their thinking is flawed; that they’re somehow less because they happen to think
differently about the world than we do.
We have to stop calling the person on the other side of the argument an idiot –
because that’s what we do. We’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, that person is such an idiot. I
can’t believe they think that.’ Right? We’ve all said it, we’ve all done it.
I think it’s Brene Brown who talks about this idea of it’s hard to hate people when we
pull them in close. That’s what we’re talking about here, right? It’s hard to call
someone an idiot when they’re a friend. It’s hard to call someone an idiot when
you’re really listening to their side and their point of view. You see, dismissing each
other at the drop of a hat when we don’t see eye to eye is not helpful, it’s hateful. And
truly, hate only breeds more hate. It adds fuel to a raging fire that we’re desperately
trying to get out.
But we’re adding more fuel to it every time we have hateful conversations. When we
call people names, when we dehumanize them by calling them words, that doesn’t
make them human, right? When we call things, whether we’re talking about the
president of the United States, or we’re calling our neighbor down the street
because of how they’re voting, or the person who is protesting something different,
Martin Luther King, JR., said, ‘Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.’
There’s a man right there who wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. He wasn’t afraid to go
against the status quo. And honestly, how many people’s lives, how many people’s
opinions did that one man change using love, not hate?
You want to affect change? We do it through love, which means we have to pull
people in close. It means we have to have conversations because that is how we love
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people, which is why it is so important to understand why you think the way that you
What if the opinions that you hold strongly to aren’t even your opinions in the first
place? I mean, have you taken the time to really ask yourself, why do I think this
way? Or where does this belief come from? A lot of times they’re deeply ingrained in
us. We don’t even recognize or realize where they come from until we stop and ask
Even advertising does this. Good advertising–and I’m going to go ahead and I’m
going to include all political campaigns when I talk about advertising because that’s
essentially what they are: they’re one giant, let’s be honest, negative advertising
campaign; but good advertising knows how to hijack your brain. They use scare
tactics to shortcut our thinking.
Now, when I’m saying good advertising, obviously I mean strong advertising:
advertising that gets you to move and gets that call to action out there. It’s not
necessarily [positive] in that it’s putting good into the world, but it’s strong. And
that’s affecting the way you think.
Sex and fear are the basis for almost all advertisements and both those, fear and sex,
trigger hard-wired responses in our brain that cut off our conscious thinking, and it
goes straight into our subconscious brain. We have to have that pair of boots. We
didn’t know they existed two days ago, but suddenly we’ve got to get them before
they run out of stock. That’s a scare tactic known as scarcity.
Or if I vote for this politician, I’m going to lose my right to X, Y, and Z. This is another
scare tactic of basic human fear. Or if I don’t get this certain toothpaste, everyone’s
going to be put off by my bad breath; that’s social fear right there. Fear and sex are
the basis for understanding how advertising works, and because it shortcuts your
brain and goes straight into our subconscious thoughts, we don’t really know where
those thoughts come from.
But once we take the time, once we understand our thinking, we get the key to
unlocking our own cage. So let’s stop focusing on the ‘what’ when it comes to our
thinking, and let’s choose to focus on the ‘how.’ Let’s understand a little bit more
about how we think because then we can come together and we can find some
commonality that helps us understand why we disagree with other people and why
those other people have the opinions they do, and the beliefs that they feel strongly
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You see, how we think influences everything from our ability to solve problems, to
how we understand meeting and value, and even our purpose. But here’s the thing:
the information that we receive from the people around us and that we read about
in our magazines and our online sources, it doesn’t really make our thinking better.
In order to become more effective with our thinking, we also have to understand the
way that our minds process the information that we get.
So when we talk about your brain, we actually have two parts to our brain; we have
two minds. We have our conscious mind and we have our subconscious mind. So
the conscious mind is what we think. This is what we believe. It’s what we can
choose and we can reject. We can imagine our subconscious brain. That’s the ‘how;’
it’s how we think. And it is not logical at all. It’s a hundred percent primal in the fact
that it’s pretty much automatic.
So what’s your subconscious brain does is it takes the experiences you’ve had, the
images and the ideas, and it embeds them in our brain so your subconscious mind
does not reject it; it doesn’t choose it and doesn’t imagine it. But what it does do is it
directs the behavior that you exhibit. It controls your conscious mind.
So your subconscious mind is spoon-feeding the thoughts to your head, which is
why it’s important to understand it, because once we can become aware of it, we
can decide if we actually like the way it’s making us think, or not. Think of this almost
as a mental habit loop, because it happens with very little active thought. I mean, it’s
called subconscious for a reason, right? But what happens is our mind gets stuck in
these loops, almost like a habit loop.
You know, just like you have these activities that we do as a habit, our brain does that
too. You can think of it in this way. Think about how maybe you find yourself
continually checking the same new sources or mindlessly scrolling through social
media. This idea is pretty spot on, right? We just do it without thinking about it. So
the same way that we have those action habits, we also have these habits of
thoughts when it comes to how we think about the world. That’s your subconscious
mind right there.
Now most of these subconscious thoughts are set when we’re really young. Some
people say as young as under the age of seven. That’s kind of a scary thought,
because think about what you knew and understood at the age of seven, right? But
here’s why this happens: when we’re born, we’re dependent on our caregivers. We
need our caregivers to do everything essential for us to grow and survive and to
eventually move into adulthood. Naturally, this setup creates a scenario where both
our behaviors and even our thoughts and the way that we think are influenced by
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our environment: the places we live, the ways we’re interacted with, and the things
that we do.
And especially by the people around us. Maybe that’s parents or grandparents or
babysitters or family in general, but we learn how to behave and express ourselves in
ways that are acceptable to other people. You know, when we would throw our food
in our high chair, we would see our mom frown and we would learn, this is not
acceptable, right? Or when we’d have a tantrum and our babysitter would fuss at us,
we learn, ‘Okay, this is not okay. This is not good behavior.’ So we then change the
way that we behave. We do everything we can to fit in with the tribe; the tribe here
being our family, right? That’s what our brain is begging for us to do.
We don’t just want acceptance, we need acceptance in order to survive. We don’t
want to be abandoned. We don’t want to be left because we know we cannot make
it on our own. And when we behave in ways that are unacceptable, we’re punished
or reprimanded. So right there, that’s where we see that huge subconscious need for
acceptance. We all have that need to be accepted.
We’re afraid of getting pushed out of the group because we want to survive. We all
want to be loved. We all want to be accepted, and so that has meant that we needed
to compromise. Even when it comes to our thoughts, it’s hard to stand out. So we fit
in, we squeeze ourselves into these tight little boxes allowed for our thinking.
So we spend years–okay, let’s be honest, decades–thinking I need to fit in so we can
survive. So it’s time to decide, ‘This is who I am. this is what I think, and it’s okay not
to fit in with everybody else.’ That’s a hard decision to make. It is because it means
standing against what you’ve done in the past.
But right now we are in this unique situation. There has never been an abundance of
information like we have right now. We have so much information at our fingertips. I
mean, you go on the internet or turn on the news and there’s a lot to process, right?
And it’s because of this, and because of the way that we’re hardwired to take in the
information that swirls around us every day, that our brain needs these systems to
help us avoid overwhelm and to function effectively.
This is where the subconscious mind steps in and adds a “helping hand.” Helping
hand in quotes there, because what it does is it starts to filter, but not necessarily in
the most helpful way. You see, your subconscious brain is all about efficiency, not
effectiveness. It filters to reinforce our current viewpoints, our current opinions, and
beliefs. And that’s why we don’t see a lot of what’s on the other side of the fence.
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That’s why we don’t understand why these other people feel this way because our
brain is filtering for the things that agree with us. And so the habits and the patterns
that we experience and adopt from the moment we’re born to the time right now, it
can be very difficult to break if we’re not conscious of them. And that’s why it’s really
important to stop and give ourselves pause and to really assess what we truly think,
what we truly feel, what we truly believe.
And when we start to think about why we think and believe the way that we do, we
can get to the heart of it, of why we feel this way. Let me show you what I mean:
Have you ever considered, for example, why you only read articles from one online
site or watch the news from one of those single stations?
Are you Fox news? Are you CNN? Right, you may not realize it right now, but you’re
surfing the same TV stations or the articles that speak to your preferences. I mean,
whether we’re talking politics or religion or something else entirely, it’s a habit that
your subconscious mind has developed. And the truth is it’s not easy for us to digest
information that we don’t naturally agree with, but we need to because this is how
we break free of the old stories our subconscious mind is telling us.
But our brain doesn’t like to be challenged with opposing views because it requires
extra brain power focusing on efficiency versus effectiveness, right? When we’re
constantly gobbling up information that only speaks to our viewpoint, we’re closing
off the opportunities we need to grow and to meet others at a halfway point and to
understand why they feel the way that they do.
So when we choose instead to look inward and take a look at the loops that we’ve
fallen into, when we dig deep to get to the root of our thoughts and where they
come from and what they might be influenced by, we can find ways to break the
cycles that keep us from the growth.
And more importantly, when we break through those thought patterns, we make
room for expansion for our mind to open up wider to new opportunities, new
perspectives, and opinions. And the bonus here is it allows us to connect with people
who not only think similarly to us but also think differently than us as well. And right
there, that is what’s essential. We need to be better at challenging ourselves to
continually reflect on our thinking and make adjustments when necessary.
So I want us to focus on ways that we can start interrupting our own thought loops a
little bit more to allow more room for expansion, for different ideas, to come in and
to allow ourselves to grow, to link, arms, and connect, and become a force for good
in this world. Because truly, I believe this is so critical right now.
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When we take the responsibility to do better, to be better and start opening our
minds to perspectives, not just to the people on the other side of the fence, but also
the people next to us, on the front porch, and in our own families, that we disagree
with–from literally all perspectives, that’s when we’re going to find, understanding,
and start moving forward together as one community.
You know, I want to explore some ways that we can jump off the different hamster
wheels that we’ve been running on for too long and maybe press a little bit of a reset
button and start focusing on ways to be a little more conscious of the way that we
think. But before we do that, I need to take a quick sip of water. I’m gonna take a
quick mid-episode break.
Right Now, you are listening to Episode 197, which means episode 200, which is a
huge milestone, is just around the corner. So I’m doing a Toast to 200 Contest, and I
would love for you to celebrate alongside me. I wanted to do something really big
because 200 episodes is a huge milestone, so I thought it would do something really
fun. I am going to be giving away a one-on-one coaching session with me. 30
minutes, video chatting directly with me talking about any issues, any stumbling
blocks that you might have, and I’ll be working with you to create an action plan so
you can feel a lot better about it.
So if you would like to win a one-on-one coaching session with me, it’s really easy to
enter. All you have to do is shoot a one minute or less video sharing what you love
about The Intentional Advantage podcast and how you use it in your life or business.
All the details on how to enter is at tanyadalton.com/200. I would love for you to
enter because I would love to chat with you one-on-one. Again, just go to
tanyadalton.com/200 for all the details.
All right, let’s get back to exploring some ways that we can challenge and even
interrupt our subconscious mind and open the doors, and even the windows a little
bit, to allow more information to come in and bring some fresh air into the way that
So, first and foremost, those words–‘challenge’ and ‘interrupt’–are really key. If you
haven’t gotten into the practice already, let’s start challenging ourselves to step out
of our comfort zone and to look at the world around us for a little bit of a different
viewpoint, a different angle. Because like I said earlier, we can’t expect to reach a
level of understanding with those people who think or feel differently than we do if
we’re not willing to hear their stories or listen to their thoughts and opinions and
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So my first tip is this: Start diversifying the new stations you tune into and even the
different publications that you’re reading listen to and the different podcasts. I mean,
keep listening to this one, but add some different podcasts into your rotation. Read
some books that go into different styles or genres than you’re used to. Whatever
your beliefs and opinions are right now, consider taking a look at things that speak
to the exact opposite of that.
Now I’m not suggesting that doing this is going to completely alter your viewpoint,
but it might help you uncover why you disagree or why you think the way that you
do, or why the people on the other side of the fence feel the way that they do. And
you know what, let’s go ahead and make that our first momentum builder for this
week. I want to challenge you to actively seek out one different thing that challenges
your current opinions or beliefs, whatever they happen to be. I mean, if anything, this
practice will help get you a little bit out of that comfort zone. And again, it’s going to
help you understand where others are coming from a little bit more.
All right, so that’s our first momentum builder. The second momentum builder that I
want to challenge you to take on this week is: Broaden up your circle a little bit.
Invite someone who thinks differently than you with a completely different
background, perhaps, to come and have a seat at your table.
Now I know we’re socially distancing, so maybe it’s a seat at your virtual table; that
works as well, but just engage in a friendly conversation where you do nothing, but
just listen. And I truly mean listen to their story, ask them questions, ask them about
their background, ask them where they grew up. Ask about the different
experiences that they’ve had, or even about their personal or professional goals.
You know, when we ask and we listen, we’re not simply listening to respond, which is
what I used to find myself doing. And I still fall into that trap from time to time. But
to truly listen, means that we’re opening up the door for the conversation. It’s not
just thinking about what I’m going to respond back with, but responding with
empathy and compassion, allowing those things to come through.
And then lastly, momentum builder number three: I want to hear from you. I want us
to keep these conscious conversations flowing so that we can grow stronger,
together. You know, I would love for you to share your biggest takeaways from your
conversations this week. So pop on over to my Facebook group,
tanyadalton.com/group. And tell me, what will you do next time you run into
someone who has a different opinion than you? What are some different news
sources you’re going to? What are some different podcasts you’re listening to? How
can we make these difficult or sometimes uncomfortable conversations better?
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You know, when we stopped spreading so much hate and negativity into the world,
we’re going to see that we have a lot more in common with people than we even
realize, because here’s the thing: I truly believe that sharing ideas and resources on
how we can slowly build bridges over the gaps that separate so many of us is critical
in building a better life for ourselves and for our children as well. Don’t you?
You know, I said last week in Episode 196, I’m tired of the division. I’m tired of the
ugliness and the downright intolerance we’re seeing in the world because it’s not
helpful. It’s exhausting, and it needs to stop. And I’m hearing from a lot of you that
you feel exactly the same way. This season, I’m going to be sharing a lot of my
insights and a lot of my stories about my own personal growth.
I’ve told you that I’ve had a huge shift in personal growth over the past, I don’t know,
nine months or so. And so I started looking at my own subconscious mind in an
incredibly different way. So next week, I’m actually going to give you a peek into how
this works in my marriage. I’m going to have John on the show. Yes, I was able to
convince him to come back on.
I’m sure I’ll have his bourbon in hand, but we’re going to be talking about what I’ve
always considered the core arguments in our marriage and how we’re now
overcoming that. So I’m hoping that conversation helps you see how you can have
even these conscious conversations with your significant other or your spouse or the
people who are close to you. So we’ll talk more about that next week.
You know, my goal for this season is to start seeing more linking of arms, more
women coming together and finding ways to seek connection rather than
dismissing one another. And I would love to start linking arms with each and every
single one of you. Every single time you tune into this podcast, I feel connected to
And I love that you have different thoughts and opinions and perspectives than I do
because this widening of our circles, this idea of making room at the table for more
and more people who think and feel and believe differently than we do, that’s when
growth happens. That’s when real change happens, and that is truly what the
intentional advantage is.