Interview With Eldon Taylor
by Eldon Taylor
Q: You came from a fascinating background. How did you get inspired to write your books?
ET: As a practicing criminalist, nearly every day I saw someone, who had a world of potential, blow it over some silly stupid notion. Perhaps they stole from their employer and rationalized it away since in their minds the employer was a bum who treated and paid them unfairly. The fact is, every perpetrator of a criminal act can tell you why they did it, and when you stand back, their answers are justifications more than reasons.
It became clear to me that many people were making choices that were simply self-sabotaging. Not just those who committed crimes, but the average person on the street. At a certain point in my career, I became acutely aware of just how persistent this characteristic was with so many folks and the question became, “Why?” Answering that question changed my life, as well as my vocation, and led to the research and books that I publish today.
Q: What are the basic principles in your life and how did your life lead you to these principles?
ET: I try to live my life from what I think of as the four-corner philosophy. These corners consist of forgiveness, self-responsibility, gratitude, and service. Let me unpack that some.
Back in the early ‘80’s we conducted a double blind study at the Utah State Prison. The technology used was a cognitive engineering tool that used a shadowing method to deliver what most think of as a subliminal message. The technology is known as InnerTalk today. The goal of the study was aimed at lowering hostility and aggression, and perhaps interrupting the recidivist rate. We used some elaborate psychometrics to determine our intervention affirmations, but in the end, it was the dialogue with our inmate volunteers that led the way.
The inmates generally displaced responsibility for their actions via blame. There were all sorts of people and events to blame, but the bottom line argument came down to something like, “All but for the grace of God, you’d be here.”
As such, we created a set of affirmations to prime the inmates self-talk and thereby change the way they talked to themselves, consequently changing their expectation. The affirmations included three forgiveness messages, something I have referred to as the forgiveness set ever since. Those affirmations are: I forgive myself. I forgive all others. I am forgiven. We also included messages regarding self-responsibility and general well-being. The results of the study were very positive and that led to the prison system installing voluntary libraries throughout, from the Youth Offenders facility to Maximum Security.
I took a cue from this study, for I saw that I too blamed many people in my life for many things. My life changed as a result of practicing what I preached. Indeed, for a few years I lectured about the power of forgiveness and our InnerTalk Forgiving and Letting Go program was our best seller. We found as our research continued that forgiveness was a key for all walks of life. It was just as powerful for the business executive, the athlete, the truck driver, the live in mom, and so forth.
Then one day it dawned on me, if forgiveness is really the starting point for self-actualization, then the program should be free. So about twenty years ago we began offering the program for free and it remains free to this day. Your readers can download it from InnerTalk.com.
As for service and gratitude, that would take longer than we have here, if I am to answer your other questions, but this short video on luck may prime the pump.
Q: In your book, Choices and Illusions, you say that our choices are not our own. What do you mean by that?
ET: Research clearly shows that there is activity in the subconscious before a conscious thought occurs. In other words, our so-called conscious thoughts are given to us by our subconscious. My work has shown that it is this subconscious information that dictates the kind of life we will experience, and understanding that helps us clarify why the prison intervention I discussed earlier was so powerful. Change truly must happen from the inside out. We must choose to take control of everything we put in to our minds.
Q: How does this information get into our subconscious?
ET: Most of it comes from our environment – our friends, family, peers etc. Unfortunately negative information, such as “you won’t amount to anything” has a much greater sticking power than positive information, and scientists estimate that 90% of the incoming information is negative. Additionally, we have actually been trained in many ways not to think. In fact, in a very real sense, we have all been raised in our own little chicken yards. I think a story is worth much more than data, so to this end I have posted a YouTube video that is the prefect illustration of how this entire process works. The story is called The Chicken and the Eagle and can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHAfVl-t1Hg
Q: What do you mean, “we have been trained not to think?”
ET: We are taught things in limited ways. Logic and linguistics make assertions about many things that are simply false to fact. For example, logic asserts that a gallon is equal to a gallon. This is simply not true from many perspectives, including the most obvious. A gallon of water added to a gallon of alcohol does not equal two gallons of combined fluid. Ergo, 1 + 1 = 2 is not necessarily so in the “real” world, for no two things are alike in every way.
Q: Thank you Eldon.
ET: Thank you for the opportunity to share.