Last week we talked about accessing your future self to gain knowledge, insight and inspiration.
When we can picture clearly how we’ll look, feel, and think in the future – we know what thoughts will get us where we want to be.
Then we come back to the present. And our current reality. So what the heck is the way to get from here to there?
So many people talk incessantly about wanting to change but they remain where they are.
Be honest. Are you one of them?
Do you talk a good game but continue to do the same thing day after day?
Do you dream about your future but not actually take any action toward getting there?
Think about it for a minute.
Usually when we’re stuck between talking about change, talking about the future we want and actually taking action toward it, it’s because we’re in cognitive dissonance. This is a fancy term for feeling uncomfortable and awkward. We’re in that space between where we are and where we want to be and there’s some mental tug-o-war going on.
And, frankly, it is also because we allow ourselves to wallow in fear, doubt, confusion, and or overwhelm. I’m going to call these emotions the 4 henchmen of the apocalypse of change army. These are the emotions that feel noble and safe but are actually holding you back.
They allow you to wallow. And feel comfortable, because, let’s be real – we’ve all felt these four emotions (some of us daily) and we know what they feel like.
We may not love them, but we know them. They’re familiar. And familiar feels safe, especially when we’re planning for change.
Think of these four emotions (doubt, overwhelm, confusion, and fear) as your primitive brain’s henchmen or army soldiers that are positioned to keep you from moving forward toward change. This is true whether it is change in your nutritional habits, your exercise program, you job, your relationships, or your life.
I’ve talked previously about our adult brain (prefrontal cortex) where we can think, plan, rationalize, and direct our lives toward change, health, reason, and growth.
I’ve also taught you about your toddler brain (primitive brain…aka everything that protects you from danger and leads you toward comfort and pleasure and doesn’t like change).
These two parts of our brain are at odds when we’re in cognitive dissonance. And they begin to dance in a tug-o-war (or fight if you are more inclined toward violent visuals… I am not).
Who will win?
The adult brain has more power, but the toddler brain has more experience and knows the adult brain’s weaknesses. The primitive/toddler brain utilizes these four henchmen emotions to lure us into staying where we are.
Consider this for a moment. How do you feel when you think about doing something new, such as trying a new activity or sport, a new job, or meeting a new person.
Our fight-or-flight response kicks in, at least a little. Our adrenaline goes up, cortisol increases, we may feel a blend of excited, nervous, and anticipation, all at the same time. Sometimes these feelings drive us forward when the outcome benefits outweigh the risks (aka we are able to defeat or move past our four henchmen).
Other times when we’re still in uncertainty and not truly believing our dreams or goals are possible, we talk about our goals and our intent seems noble but it’s actually b.s.
If you are honest with yourself, you know when you are really planning to do something versus just talking about it.
Even if you take steps toward action – you know.
We all do.
Some of us are better at deceiving ourselves and others, while some of us refuse to move forward until that intent is 100% (perfect vs done is a separate topic that I talked about last week on my social media post).
So where’s the disconnect? None of us want to be liars. It’s usually protective and unintentional. Our primitive brains see the change process coming and send the henchmen out to do their bidding. These emotions keep you from changing (because remember, change is new and new is unsafe and could hurt or kill us) but ultimately, keep you stuck.
The fantastic news is that as we become more aware of our unconscious thoughts and how our primitive brain seeks to protect us – we, as rational, mature adults, can access that higher brain power and use it more often and to our benefit.
There will be discomfort – but all change and growth involves that period of cognitive dissonance as we move from what we know and are comfortable with to what we don’t know and don’t yet feel comfortable with. You will feel awkward, you will feel unsafe – that is normal. It is okay. As you believe in what you are becoming, it will feel better, more comfortable and more familiar.
Only when we’re allowing ourselves to be stopped by the four henchman are we doing ourselves a disservice and making excuses.
I propose you decide today – are you in or are you out of whatever you’re wanting to change or do.
There is no right or wrong answer but that choice is yours to make.
You have the power in you. You have had it all along.
You just have to be aware of when you think you’re moving forward and you’re not because of these four emotions. Then you can blow past them or by them and continue on your journey to your goals.
Blow it up my friends, you can do it!
If this speaks to you and you want to learn more about how to incorporate change into your life – email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Let’s stay in touch.