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Is your brain sabotaging you?

Episode 278
Wildly Successful Lifestyle

LISTEN TO: Is your brain sabotaging you?

Hi guys! Welcome to Episode 278 of the Wildly Successful Lifestyle podcast! It’s always good to be with you.

Lately, Ive been really trying to notice when my thoughts are causing me problems. One of the things I have struggled with in the past, is handling stress well. I talked about this on an episode earlier where I used to say I don’t handle stress well. I also used to always say that “I am innately lazy”. I don’t say that anymore, but I caught myself thinking the other day, that maybe I have a low tolerance to stress and long hours and it’s hereditary because my dad doesn’t handle stress and long hours well and neither did my grandmother. Isn’t that interesting how our brain works? We just assume that something is true about us because someone else in our family struggles with it so that must be my problem too. And if that thought isn’t challenged then we just accept it as true and everything from there on out is seen through the filter of well, Im just not designed to be able to do that, it runs in my family.

Does your family have similar traits? Maybe your family says “We don’t like conflict so we just avoid talking about things that are hard.” Or maybe you inherited a certain fear like heights or dogs or water” or maybe you say obesity runs in our family” I bet we can all relate to something like that.

What if these things aren’t necessarily hereditary to our family, what if we can tie it to the way we were designed, you know simply being human? What if these are HUMAN traits? And what, if we can actually turn them around? What if they’re fixable?

So if you have been wondering why you are so drawn to just scroll on the internet for hours, or lay on the couch to binge-watch netflix or steering clear of anything that gives you the slightest discomfort. If you are struggling with this keep listening. There’s an answer and you CAN change it.

Our brain is a powerful computer. What you put in, is what you’re going to get out. We are learning how true this is. This isn’t limited to what we watch or eat, it also includes how we talk to ourself, what we think about and also our family dynamic growing up played a role too.

The quality of our life is directly linked to the quality of our thoughts. But thoughts are just sentences in our brain. You do NOT have to believe every silly negative, punishing thought that your brain throws at you.

Brooke Castillo had a podcast, Episode 439 of the life coach school, go listen if you can, it’s so good. But she reinforced some things for me in a very clear way about our brain. There are two main parts of our brain. Our primitive brain and our pre frontal cortex. Now don’t zone out, just because I bring up parts of the brain, trust me, just hear me out on this. Our primitive brain is designed to keep us safe. The primitive brain is actually motivated to do as little as possible. It is motivated to conserve energy, so it’s motivated to basically lay on the couch. It’s motivated to avoid pain, and seek pleasure. Think of the primitive brain as short term pleasure…cookies, sex, alcohol… The prefrontal Cortex is the intelligent brain where planning and good judgement comes from. Think of the pre frontal cortex as long term pleasure. Think Career Success, goal accomplishment, planning and executing your workout. That sort of thing.

So if you are trying to create something with your life that is out of your comfort zone, you are going to be working literally against your primitive brain the entire time. This is mind blowing for me. I’ll tell you why in a minute.

But first the good news, that intelligent part of your brain, it can actually manage your primitive brain. The best news of all, you’re in charge of both.

Let me give you a first hand experience. I was laying in bed the other night and my friend had told me earlier at dinner that there was some sort of announcement by Fed Ex about the negative effects the economy was having on the company. Both of our husbands work for Fed Ex so that’s not great news of course. Now, I know that getting on twitter before I go to sleep is a big no no for me. But my primitive brain was like “we have to know what’s going on”, “you have to pull up twitter to get all the details, it’s for your own good” I literally laughed and said out loud. No, we are not getting on twitter right before bed, it actually wreaks havoc on your sleep, so no primitive brain, Im in control and we are not getting on twitter, I’m going to read my book for a chapter and then turn the light out. And that’s what I did.

You see, I recognized my primitive brain trying to get me to do something that wouldn’t be good long term but would satisfy my curiosity short term. And did you notice it even pulled out the “its for your own good” card. Your primitive brain will try to get you to do things or not do things all day long in the name of taking care of yourself. So , you’ve worked hard you deserve that drink even though you said you wouldn’t drink during the week..that’s the primitive brain, or come on, one cookie isn’t going to hurt you, knowing you wont stop at one….that’s your primitive brain, one mine uses all the time, is why are you doing this speech today at toastmasters, it’s not even required and you spoke last week anyway, just skip today. Since Ive been alerted to this, I realize it does it all the time, over everything.

The primitive brain doesn’t want to feel any pain and we all know there is going to be pain if you’re trying to do something outside of your comfort zone and by pain, I don’t mean burning your hand on a hot stove, I mean you may feel stressed, or you may feel embarrassed, or you may FEEL something you aren’t comfortable feeling. But the front part of your brain can manage the primitive brain.

It’s mind blowing to me because

This explains why I feel like Im constantly having to make myself do things, shouldn’t it come easy at SOME point? NOPE. If you are doing things out of your comfort zone, you’re going to hear your primitive brain telling you it’s ok not to do it.

When you understand this, you understand that it’s not because you’re innately lazy, or you just don’t handle stress well, and it’s not necessarily because it runs in your family, it actually could be just a natural part of the human experience. You learn to notice the thoughts that are coming form your primitive brain and allow your pre frontal brain to manage them, you will be unstoppable and yes, you’re going to be uncomfortable when you are going after big things, but the more you get comfortable with discomfort the more you realize, it’s not that bad and this is actually what living life to the fullest means.

If you are doing things out of your comfort zone you are literally going to be fighting your primitive brain the entire time. That goes for everybody. Everybody has these same parts of the brain and they work similarly to us all, obviously it will vary based on your personal experience with life, but noone is immune.

And Our primitive brain is sneaky. It will act like it’s trying to take care of us when it says things like you’re too tired, it’s just too much, you’ve been good all week, splurge, live a little. Sometimes those will be true but most of the time these are the things our primitive brain gives us in an attempt to act like it cares but really it’s just sabotaging our goals so that it wont feel discomfort. And you can tell it NO.

My challenge to you today is the next time you’re making a decision, ask yourself Am I making it from my primitive brain or my intelligent brain?
Primitive brain wants what it wants right now.
The intelligent brain wants what is good for us long term. And you know the difference. I love you guys, I’ll talk to you in a few days!

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