Your Recticular Activating System
At any given time during your daily activities, your mind is bombarded with millions of bits of
information and sensory stimulations from the physical environment where you are. Sounds,
smells, tastes, sights, and feelings are continually being downloaded into your system. Your
brain receives all this information and stimulation and needs a way to filter that information. It
is the purpose of your Recticular Activating System (RAS) and why it came into being.
Located in the brain stem area of your brain between the upper and lower portions of the brain
is a group of special cells that are called the Recticular Activating System. The RAS acts as a
customizable filter which adapts to different types of situations and reacts instantly.
Metaphorically speaking, the RAS can be seen as a bouncer at the door of your mind. Your
beliefs are key to the operation of the RAS. They tell the RAS what is or what is not important.
Your RAS then acts like the club bouncer letting whoever is on the list in and thrusting the rest
to the curb.
Of those millions of bits of information cited earlier, your RAS only lets in around 130 pieces of
information per second in your conscious mind because that’s all that your central nervous
system can handle at one time. These details allowed entry into your brain are the ones that
you have deemed over the years to be important enough for yourself.
In other words, your RAS is the automatic mechanism inside your brain that brings relevant
information to your attention. Your RAS is a filter between your conscious mind and your
subconscious mind. It takes instructions from your conscious mind and passes them on to your
There are some interesting points about your RAS that make it an essential tool for achieving
goals in life:
First, you can deliberately program your RAS by choosing the exact messages you send from
your conscious mind. For example, you can set goals, or say affirmations, or visualize your
goals. Of course, if we keep thinking that we can’t achieve a goal; our subconscious will help us
to not achieve it. Your RAS plays a vital part in your ability to achieve goals.
Second, your RAS tends to believe whatever message you give it.
How Does Your RAS Operate
Imagine that you’re walking through a busy noisy airport passenger terminal. Think of all the
noise – hundreds of people talking, music, announcements, rolling luggage carriers, etc. How
much of this noise comes to your attention? Almost none!
True, you’ll hear all these noises as general background noise, but not many people listen to
each individual sound. But when an announcement comes over the public address system
announcing your flight and a gate change, suddenly you hear every word; the announcement
has your full attention!
What happened? Your RAS in your brain kicked into high gear and caught every word!
- Your RAS is the automatic mechanism inside your brain that brings relevant
information to your attention!
- Your reticular activating system is like a filter between your conscious mind and your
- It takes instructions from your conscious mind and immediately passes them on to
your subconscious mind. For example, the instruction might be, “listen for anyone
saying my name, or announcing my flight”.
Here’s another example of RAS working. A husband and wife go to sleep with baby sleeping
down the hall. Baby starts to fuss and begins to cry. Husband sleeps on while mom races out of
bed to the baby’s crib. Dad doesn’t hear the crying, Mom responds immediately. What’s
- Mom’s awareness level for the baby’s crying is at a much higher level than Dad’s. Her
RAS has been programmed sub-consciously to respond consciously when baby cries.
- Dad’s RAS hasn’t been programmed to hear the baby cry and as a result, he sleeps through while mom tends to the baby!
How Do We Make the RAS Work for Us?
The reticular activating system is an essential tool for achieving goals and increase in life. It all
depends on how the RAS is programmed. Remember, the RAS is a built-in screening device!
Your RAS admits or blocks out information to flow through to you, depending on how
important that information is to you!
Your RAS is related to cognitive functions and particularly awareness! Thousands of sensory
messages bombard you every second, and your RAS determines which messages gets through
to your awareness! Without your RAS, you would be completely overwhelmed! You wouldn’t
be able to focus or concentrate on any thought or task. God has designed you such that your
RAS operates without you being aware of its awesome blessing!
First of all, you must deliberately program your reticular activating system to accept what’s
important to you! This is a conscious decision to decide what’s important to you! Once the decision is made your RAS sends the conscious information to your subconscious realm where
the RAS filter operates.
For example, by setting goals, you’re programming instructions in the conscious mind that will be sent to the sub-conscious realm. These goals carry a degree of importance! As you begin to
visualize these goals and as you declare them out loud (confess them), you’re creating
importance in the conscious realm which is transferred into your sub-conscious realm!
Your goals set up your RAS to filter the messages flowing towards you every hour of the day!
Every bit of information that relates to your goals will be caught by your RAS in the sub-
conscious realm and will be sent to your conscious realm to recognize and respond to!
Secondly, your RAS is now set to operate and bring relevant information to your attention.
Very simply, relevant information to achieve your goals is brought to your attention which
otherwise would have remained as ‘background noise’. The ability to filter out information
from external sources and focus on one particular fact, detail, or thought is controlled by the RAS.
Your RAS is going to operate no matter what you do – either to bring breakthrough information
to your attention or shield you from it – all dependent upon whether or not you are a goal-
Your RAS can operate in the reverse as well. If you think that you can't do something or can’t
achieve a goal, your subconscious realm will help you to not achieve it. That’s not Success! But
that’s because you programmed yourself to failure and your RAS filtered out the negative
elements reinforcing the sub-conscious realm!
When you committed to setting goals and strategizing a plan for them to come to pass, your
RAS will filter out all the background noise and focus you in on the important, breakthrough
information that brings your goals into existence.
You need to create a very specific picture of your goals in your conscious mind. The RAS will
then pass this on to your subconscious realm which will catch relevant information amidst all
the hoopla and turmoil of daily life and bring that relevant information to your attention…
In summation, you will become what you believe! Your RAS will help you become that! So
make the decision to program success into your life and allow your Recticular Activating System
help you become successful!