Resistance Is Futile: Why Our Brains Can Sometimes Get In The Way of Our Dreams
I really didn’t want to write this column today. Seriously. My brain has been whirring with excuses for the past hour or so. Even now, tapping away on my laptop, I’m experiencing massive resistance.
Why so? I love writing. I love inspiring and motivating people. I love being part of America Out Loud.
Well, this week has been a toughie. I’ve had a mega six-day headache that has left me cancelling some of my appointments and turning the screen brightness all the way down for my Skype coaching clients, because the glare was making things worse.
I haven’t been sleeping well and I’m still catching up from my speaking gig that took me to Sicily last week.
This weekend, I have meetings on Saturday, a full-day workshop to run on Sunday, immediately followed by a Christmas meal with some of my tribe, then it’s a couple of hours in the car that same night to get to the venue where I’m running another full-day workshop on Monday.
On Tuesday, I’ll be travelling down to London, ready to fly out to Milan on Wednesday for another speaking gig, and I won’t hit UK shores again until the following Sunday.
My diary is crazy. My fuel gauge is blinking. A big part of me wants to stop the world and get off!
See? Though I ordinarily love this particular weekly commitment, right now I’d like to just switch off for a few hours, before leaping back onto that treadmill in the morning. Aah, the joys of self employment. I wouldn’t have it any other way, though my schedule can sometimes be bonkers.
Thing is, I didn’t want to go to the gym earlier either. I didn’t want to hurriedly get changed after this morning’s coaching clients and go meet my personal trainer. I did it anyway.
The part of me that wants to curl up with my love and snooze away the rest of the day doesn’t want me to be writing right now. I’m doing it anyway.
My self talk, if I allowed it, would come up with all kinds of weird and wonderful scenarios to stop me doing things every day. It’s hooked into that old, reptilian part of the brain that wants to keep us safe and, sometimes, gets all confused and keeps us small instead.
It’ll run through its memory banks and come up with reasons to stop us doing the things we’ve already decided to do – it’s currently reminding me of my breakdown, twisting and warping and doing its level best to convince me to just stop typing and tell Malcolm Out Loud I’m too ill to concentrate. It’s whispering nonsense such as: “Remember when you didn’t stop last time? You hit a wall. You fell to pieces. You’ll make yourself unwell.”
Fact is, none of that is entirely true. It’s tiny pieces of truth, stitched together with the energy of my own resistance and painting a picture I don’t want to see. Fake news, I tell you. Fake News.
This is all part of learning to gain control over our thoughts, rather than allowing our thoughts to control us. It’s part of the human psyche and it happens to all of us.
That’s the trouble with the brain… it’s wired to view life through the lenses of the past, and it’s usually geared to hold us back.
Remember the old pleasure or pain theory? At a very basic level, everything comes down to a simple equation of being driven to move towards pleasure or away from pain. That’s what our old, caveman mentality was built around, and it hasn’t changed much since.
Whenever we falter, the brain stores up these incidences and uses them to warn us off trying new things. “Hey,” it’ll say, “Remember the last time you thought you could do something? Remember when you took those stabilisers off the bicycle? Remember how much that hurt when you fell over? Best not try that new thing. You’re okay as you are – stick with the safety you know.”
Or, maybe, something along the lines of: “A new relationship? Really? Don’t you remember how much you ended up being hurt last time? You’ve only just started to get your confidence back, and you’re STILL a bit sensitive about the whole weight issue. No. You’re better off on your own. You’ll only get your heart broken again.”
That’s the problem with operating purely from the brain’s guide book. It’ll stop you in your tracks every time. It’ll stop you going to the gym because it’s too cold, dark or rainy. It’ll stop you aiming for your dreams because you’re not good enough, rich enough, clever enough, brave enough or tough enough. It’ll stop you living an extraordinary life because ordinary is ‘safer’.
When you choose to live life not just from the mind, but also from the heart and soul, you have to bring the brain into line. You need to learn to control your mind, instead of allowing it to control you AND hold you back. You need to train your brain to a) be more positive and b) to do as it’s told.
You CHOOSE to go to the gym, you make that decision, that’s what you’re gonna do – so what if it’s cold and rainy and dark outside? You’ve made that decision. That’s what you’re doing. You have dreams, you decide to go for them.
I chose to go to the gym today. I’m choosing to write this column. In a few moments, after I’ve hit send, I’m choosing to take the rest of the day off and chillax.
Find your balance. If you set your intention to do something, recognise that, every so often, that little voice is gonna try to take you off track. It’s not always going to tell you the entire truth – it can be a persuasive, sneaky little tactician.
Sleep enough. Serve enough. Rest enough. Laugh enough. Love enough. Know what you want to achieve and go for it.
I’m choosing. On my terms. You can do the same, whenever you want to.
Until next time,