How to Use Sensory Symbols to Your Advantage

Every day in our lives, we go through the day using our five senses to define what symbols mean. Maybe the smell of a tree’s leaves in the morning can give you a feeling of freshness, or maybe watching the colors of the flag rise up to the top of the pole can give you chills. Perhaps seeing somebody getting chased down the street can make you scared, or perhaps suddenly hearing the sound of a glass shatter inside your home can make you furious.

Our senses tell us what the heck is going on in the moment, causing us react in a state of certain thoughts and feelings. But what if you could do something that can instantly put you in a state you want? You can be happy, excited, focused, concentrated, or completely motivated whenever you want. Well, the truth is you can by doing a few, simple tricks.

Understanding that the symbols we get from our senses associate with our thoughts and feelings, it makes it clearer to why using them in a way that puts us in a positive state rather than a negative state is a no-brainer.  The neurological link between our senses and our feelings works in the way such as when a stimulus results in a response.

Let’s go through an example of what I mean.  Our main five senses are to:

1. See

2. Hear

3. Feel

4. Taste

5. Smell

Now, I will put a symbol next to each sense and then you tell me if you’re in a positive or negative state. What state are you feeling? What are your thoughts? And how does your body affect you physically?

1. See “M” (McDonalds’ Logo)

2. Hear “Sirens”

3. Feel “High-five”

4. Taste “Bitter”

5. Smell “Fragrant”

Are you done? So how did it go? I did the same thing and here are my results.

1. Positive state, feeling of happiness, Ronald McDonald, a full feeling

2. Negative state, pressured or alert, police, tense muscles

3. Positive state, feeling of accomplishment, friend’s hand, hand feels touched

4. Negative state, feeling of disgust, bitter melon soup, disgusting taste on tongue

5. Positive state, feeling of love, flower or light perfume, nice feeling inside nose

Notice how we associate these symbols with our thoughts and feelings. Now we need to think of things (this can be done by digging through our memory) that raise the level of intensity. What kind of things brings out your most intense emotions?

Perhaps the site of a cheesecake you shared with someone you deeply love reminds you of them, and brings you into an extremely happy mood. Perhaps you hated someone all your life because they always bragged about their accomplishments, and the site of their face makes you want to out beat them.

Here are some directions on how to create sensory symbols and use them to your advantage.

1. Be in the state you want.

2. Continue until you’re at peak state.

E.g. Imagine you’re at very competitive track meet right now. You’ve practice all your life for this moment. Next to you are nine other people all waiting for one moment – the sound of the starting gun. You are kneeling and the tips of your fingers are centimeters behind the line. There are ten thousand people in the stadium roaring, cheering, and rooting you on. The sound of the starting gun is about to go off. Ready…set…

3. Set a sensory symbol (a unique sight, sound, touch, taste, or smell) that you want to associate this state with.

4. Combine peak state with sensory symbol.

5. Do it repeatedly until you get automatic response every time the sensory symbol is experienced.

6. Come back later, and test to see it works or not.

7. If it works, great. If it doesn’t try again with a different peak experience or a different symbol.

8. You’re done!

Once you get this down, you’ll be able to be in the state you want whenever you experience a sensory symbol that you have set out for yourself.

Also, the reason I said unique is because you don’t want to give the brain mundane, everyday symbols like a handshake or the plain site of grass. When something is vastly different from the rest our thoughts, our brains can remember them easier.

Here is a random list that I created for what I mean.

  • Snapping your fingers three times.
  • Feeling the fur a rabbit’s foot inside your pocket.
  • Smelling a really distinct cologne smell.
  • Chewing a particular type of sour gum.
  • Seeing a photo of a jumping spider’s beautiful eyes.

What do these sensory symbols mean? They could mean different things to different people, but the most important is what it means to you.

Finally, the last thing I want to add is that you can turn negative experiences into positive experiences.

For example, don’t you hate the sound of your alarm clock when it goes off? You associate that sound with unpleasant feelings when you wake up (The alarm clock sound is supposed to be annoying on purpose). But you can channel that sensory into something more pleasant.

Before you go to sleep for the next day, set it so you can hear the alarm clock go off. Imagine yourself in the best, most energetic mood. Once you’re at this peak state, set off your alarm clock. Combine the sound you hear with the state you’re in. After a couple of times, you should be able to associate the sound of your alarm clock to a thought of energy and an explosion-like feeling inside your body. Now, set your alarm clock back to normal and see what happens when you wake up to the sound of your alarm clock tomorrow morning.

So that’s it for today’s post. You don’t have to do this by yourself, but you can practice this on your friends as well. What’s the most powerful positive experience you’ve ever had in your life?

You can change how you feel about almost anything.