The fundamental problem with goals is that goal achieving always represents change, and your survival mechanism, your reptilian brain, hates change.
This is why, so often, no matter how hard you work at achieving your goals you end up back in the same place. You see, your inner reptile sees change as life-threatening and it will do anything it can to make sure it doesn’t happen. Even positive change is seen as potentially dangerous and because your inner reptile only thinks in black and white, you are either alive or dead, there are no grey areas!
You can fool your inner reptile by taking really small steps, and each time you start to feel under stress break down the steps further until the feelings go away. Big rapid change rarely sticks because the inner reptile wants to take you back to where it feels safe. That’s why so many lottery winners squander all their money so quickly, its also why people stay in miserable relationships, its why people who achieve fame and fortune very quickly often come crashing down again just as fast and its why rapid weight-loss almost never stays lost!
You can fool it by interspersing your big scary activities with small easy ones. Every time you start to feel stress taking over, do something fun and positive until you feel less stressed, then go back to your main tasks. This is like taking really quick forays out of your comfort zone but jumping back in before it gets dangerous!
You can also fool it with exercise. Its very hard for the inner reptile to keep control if you are already running or stretching – one of the things the reptilian brain does is tense up the muscles at the back of your body to prepare you for flight, or it freezes you up completely so you can hide. Exercise over-rides this which is one of the reasons why its so good for alleviating stress! Muscles can’t hold tension if they’re moving!
Its really fantastic to listen to personal development programmes while you’re exercising. Often, even though you might not be consciously aware of it, listening to these programmes can put your inner reptile on high alert! It thinks “Oh no, she’s at that change thing again, lets do something else quickly!” But if you’re already moving you can’t tense up and if the reptile doesn’t get the feedback that you are tensing up, he assumes you are not really in danger and switches off, allowing the new ideas to flow effortlessly into your brain. How often do you hear people say they have their best and most creative ideas while they are exercising? That’s why. Its very simple, the reptile has let go, you are back in flow and able to access the full functions of your mind. Exercising also means there is more blood flowing though the brain which automatically makes us more intelligent!
But the only real way to achieve lasting change is to re-programme the reptilian brain so it can accept your new definition of survival. We’ll talk about that tomorrow!