In this post I am writing abut the Reticular Activating System, your personal success filter. In a recent post The Three Brained King I wrote about the concept of the Triune Brain. At the end of the post, I said I had thought of another post related to the brain. Here it is. (Yes Pan Aveyard this is what you’ve been watching this space for ;-) )

Reticular Activating System - Your personal success multitool
Creative Commons License photo credit: brian.ch

The Reticular Activating System – What is it?

The what I hear you say? The Reticular Activating System, abbreviated RAS, is an area within the human brain that plays several important roles in our day to day lives. The Reticular Activating System is a primitive network of nerve cells and fibres that regulates our cardiovascular, respiratory and motor responses; it also receives input from your senses via the central nervous system and ‘filters’ those inputs to only allow through information that has some importance to you. Through these functions it controls your ability to pay attention, be awake or asleep and allows you to be aware of activities that are happening in your environment.

Reticular Activating System – the ultimate spam filter

The Reticular Activating System acts as a filter for all of the sensory input that you receive. Just think for a minute of how much activity is going on around you, what you are touching, what you are seeing, what you are hearing… Quite a lot really. The RAS decides what is and is not important to you and what you need to pay attention to, if it did not you would suffer from information overload. The ‘filter’ sits between the subconscious and conscious minds, and is programmed by the conscious mind. It is this ability to programme the filter that makes the Reticular Activating System so important in achieving your goals.

Reticular Activating System – your personal pilot light

Just like the pilot light on a gas central heating system, the Reticular Activating System is on call 24/7/365, it sits there patiently waiting for a demand or event to occur and then lights up the boiler. When a piece of information is received by your sensory systems that is important the RAS ‘flares’ up and lights your internal boiler to raise your awareness and bring that piece of information to your attention. Have you ever experiened being in a busy place with lots of noise going on, yet as soon as someone mentions your name or something that you are interested in you seem to hear it from nowhere? Perhaps you have experienced the situation where you have been thinking about a new car or piece of equipment then all of a sudden you see ‘it’ far more regularly. That is the Reticular Activating System at work.

The importance of the Reticular Activating System in goal achievement

It is the ability of the Reticular Activating System to raise your awareness to important pieces of information that makes it an important tool in your goal achievement toolbox. The RAS is not able to distinguish between real or synthetic events and stimuli, it believes the messages it receives. Therefore it is possible to programme it by creating specific goals in your imagination, the more sensory specific you can make them the better. The ‘filter’ then raises your awareness to items that can assist you in achieving your goals. By thinking about, talking about, reviewing and writing out your goals regularly you reinforce the filter’s programming.

Make the most of your toolbox; Use your imagination, generate specific and detailed goals that your Reticular Activating System can go to work on.