Now there is a mindset monkey if ever I saw one.
We all have them, they creep up on all of us at some point during our lives.
So why can some people overcome them and others are ruled by them?
And if you are ruled by them how does this impact on your day to day life?
There are lots of ways we experience these monkeys, self-doubt is a biggie as is low self esteem or self sabotage but all these names fall into the same category when we break it down, that voice in your head that says “you can’t” “you better not” “I wouldn’t do that” “ its probably not the best idea”
“maybe tomorrow” “I’ll fail anyway” “it wont work out for me” “I didn’t really want to anyway”
All these phrases stop us from moving forward, from reaching out for success or they simply just stop us from enjoying life, they do have one thing in common they are all based in fear.
Fear of failure, fear of embarrassing ourselves or saying the wrong thing, fear of putting ourselves out there, fear of rejection, fear that we wont cope, fear we wont be liked the list goes on and on.
There is a genuine difference between doing a rational risk assessment and working out that something probably isn’t right for you, I never fancied bungee jumping, does that mean I’m stopping myself enjoying life? No it means I don’t want to do that particular activity so I will talk myself out of it, the factor here though, is that not doing a bungee jump wont stop me having a relationship or getting a new job, it just means I wont be throwing myself off a bridge with a bungee cord.
If that voice was saying “don’t go to that party/meeting as they don’t really want you there” or I’m never going to get that promotion so I wont bother applying then that’s a different ball game.
The party for example could be the opportunity to meet people that inspire you, your new business partner could be at that party or your new partner, who knows, but if you don’t go you will never know.
The likelihood is that if you don’t go to that party or meeting then when the next one comes up you will avoid that one too, as your brain will have looked at its template and said “parties? nope we don’t do them” and then social gatherings will become a NO NO and before you know it you are avoiding people in general, all because that voice popped up and took control rather than you taking control of that voice.
It works the same for applying for a promotion, if you talk yourself out of it once you probably won’t ever do it as the template for not doing it is the one the brain remembers.
There are plenty of reasons why we might let the voice win, past experiences is a biggie, you might not even recognise that there was an experience that put you off but I will put money on the fact that at some point something to do with a party/meeting or applying for a job, raised your anxiety and your Amygdala went on high alert. Now here’s the strange thing, it could be nothing to do with the actual party or application, it could have been something you smelt, saw, heard or felt that caused the Amygdala to rear its head, the Amygdala however attached that experience to parties or meetings not the actual thing that caused the issue.
For example, you are driving to the party/meeting and a cat runs out in front of you, you don’t hit it but your Amygdala (your survival brain) was activated, you carried on to the party and had a good evening and thought no more of it, your brain however linked the anxiety you felt in that moment to the party so the next time a party is mentioned that cat running out is what it remembers so it tries to put you off going as its not “safe”.
The other reason is that once we are feeling higher levels of stress in life we tend to live more in our survival brain.
COVID has heightened everyone’s stress levels even if you don’t think it has, COVID is a danger, the Amygdala reacts to danger, we are all living with this danger so we are in survival mode, when we are in survival mode everything is a negative, our survival brain loves negative, that’s the brain that keeps you thinking about bad things, the one that goes over and over the conversation you had looking for negatives, the one that says “no don’t do that” or “you can’t do that” it wants you to stay safe, it doesn’t recognise that safe actually means holding you back from doing the things that would make you happy. Remember the survival brain isn’t logical or rational, its hyper vigilante and negative.
I’m sure if the survival brain knew that you going to the party or applying for the promotion would actually lower your anxiety and would make you happy it would let you go BUT it cant see that, it can only see danger.
This is where we need to step in and challenge the brain, we need an override button so we can make a rational decision based on evidence not thoughts.
As I mentioned earlier, the bungee jump refusal is based on a rational decision 😊 (and a bit of fear!) but if I needed to go to the shops to buy food so I could eat and I chose not to go, that’s not a rational decision.
Our amygdala (survival brain) is our friend it just gets a bit carried away sometimes and needs a lesson in calming down.
I feel many people will be feeling they “cant do that” at the moment, some will be because that’s the way they’ve always felt and others will be a knock on effect of COVID, either way, it doesn’t have to be that way, you can hit the override button and start making small changes that will build your confidence, lessen the stress and put the amygdala back in its box until it is actually needed.
Don’t let the mindset monkey control your life.