How many times have you regretted not doing something?
You come up with a great idea and then your brain always tells you to hold on.
By the time you hesitated and started thinking things through, you somehow talk yourself out of doing it.
What if you’re wrong?
What if you fail?
What if you look stupid?
And next thing you know, nothing you wanted for yourself gets done and you’re left with a steaming pile of regret.
This happens way too often and the crappy part is this is actually the way your brain truly things it’s helping you out.
The Counterintuitive Ways Your Brain Looks Out For You
An almond sized part of your brain called the amygdala functions to help you survive. If you’re being chased by a mountain lion, it’s what tells you to run for your life.
While the amygdala is great for helping you in life-threatening situations, it’s not the best when it comes to your personal development. It stunts your growth by doing the following things.
Something interesting about why your brain makes you procrastinate is to help relieve your stress. You’re usually overwhelmed as it is, so putting things off at the moment temporarily makes you feel better by not having to do it.
While your brain is looking out for your best interests during these times, you know that this is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. Things end up much worse than when it started.
Fear is the number one limiting factor for people not accomplishing the things they most want to get done. It’s why most dreams die before they even get acted upon.
Whether it’s being afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone, doing something unfamiliar, or looking like a fool, fear is what your brain uses to try and help protect you from getting emotionally hurt.
The downside of this is you end up never taking action towards the things that matter to you.
The ironic thing is that fear is what prevents you from achieving the very thing you want in the first place.
When your amygdala is activated, you are in a survival mode commonly known as a fight-or-flight state where your mind and body are entirely consumed with the priority of surviving.
This state is actually not just activated only when you’re in a life-threatening situation, but is also activated by stress. So when you are on the verge of having a mental breakdown because of all the drama happening in your life, your brain is trying to protect you by putting you in survival mode.
But there’s one big problem with this.
When you are in survival mode, you are not in thinking mode.
There’s is a part of your brain called the pre-frontal cortex that is involved with important skills such as critical thinking, decision making and organization.
When you enter survival mode, your pre-frontal cortex is temporarily shut down.
So when you have a lot of problems to take care of and you’re overwhelmed with stress, your brain actually shuts down the very thing you need to figure out how to best solve those problems.
How to Help Your Brain Help You
In order to make our brains stop utilizing counterintuitive methods to help us, there are a couple of simple things we can start doing right now to break free from being stuck and creating the results we want to see in our lives.
There are tons of scientific evidence on how meditation can help your brain to be at it’s best. One notable thing was brain scans have shown that the amygdala actually shrinks and the prefrontal cortex thickens in people who meditate.
This basically means meditation helps you handle your stress and utilize the thinking part of your brain to help you deal with it to overcome your challenges.
There are plenty of amazing guided meditation apps to help you calm your mind and help you regain your mental bearings. My personal favorite is Headspace, which has a free version.
Develop Good Habits
Research has shown about 40–45% of our day is not an active decision we make, but is actually a habit. The function of habits are to help automate routine activities in our daily life so that we spend less brain energy on these things so that it frees up our mind for more important higher level mental activities.
Habits are a cycle that consists of a cue, routine and reward.
For example, stress may be a cue for you to engage in your routine of taking a cigarette break and the reward is your stress is temporarily relieved.
The key to developing good habits is to actually take a bad habit and replace the routine with something else.
In the smoking example, instead of relieving your stress by smoking, you might try to take a meditation break instead.
Take Massive Imperfect Action
The fear of failure and rejection is such a strong motivation to not do something, but action is the only way to create real results in your life.
Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction
— Harry Truman
The reason why many of us don’t take action when it matters most is simply because we don’t feel like it.
We rely on the motivation and inspiration to help us achieve our goals, but the truth is it doesn’t work.
Consistently taking massive imperfect action is the only way that can spark growth and produce results in your life because while you may have a desire to achieve all of your big goals, you will never feel like it.
I’m pretty sure the top bodybuilders don’t feel like engaging in a heavily aggressive and long workout session everyday.
The best writers don’t feel like waking up at 5 A.M. to write for three hours every morning.
The best entrepreneurs don’t feel like doing all the tireless work to ensure their business succeed.
The moment you start focusing on yourself and what can go wrong instead of what’s needed to help you grow, you’ve already lost because now you’re not taking action.
Think about the person who dreamed of becoming an actor for the past 10 years but never signed up for an acting class because he was afraid he wouldn’t be good enough.
What dream are you not acting on because you spend more time worrying about it rather than working to make it a reality?
Your Brain Will Resist When You Try To Grow
When you are about to move towards something that will help you grow and transform for the better, your brain is going to resist.
Because it doesn’t know what will happen yet or what results this action will bring for you, it will activate you fears and worries to try and protect you from getting hurt.
This is where all those “what if” questions come from.
These are all valid questions, but the problem is these questions alway 100% keep you stuck where you are.
So the next time you want to do something big, remind yourself, this isn’t about inflating or hurting your ego. It’s more about the experiences you need to go through in order to grow.
It will always be out of your comfort zone. It will hurt. It will be hard.
This is just a simple fact we will all have to accept.
It’s easy to dream about the fame and riches, but it’s painful to do the work to get it.
So dream big and change the world.
How to Live Out Your Unique Calling
I believe every individual has a unique set of passions and talents that can help fulfill an important need that exists in the world. Unfortunately, for most people these talents and passions are buried beneath all the stress and hard work involved in getting by with daily life.
If you’re tired of living a life that feels like you’re drifting further away from where you want to be, you can download my free workbook, “What’s Next? Four Insanely Important Steps to Finding Your Unique Calling”, for some practical things you can immediately start doing today to find the clarity you need to find your place in the world.
Cheers to keeping life beautiful.