Don’t Let Your Brain Fool You!
It is a universal fact that self-development is a difficult journey. Oftentimes, when we are on a path of improving our lives, there are many setbacks that come along the way. There are quitters and many people who don’t even dare to walk on this path and grow their ability to use their brain to their advantage.
The million-dollar question is what makes this process so hard? Changing for good should be more sought-after, but only a few people do it. We all want success and we all know that certain habits will help us achieve that, but why only the 2% of us can enjoy their life to the fullest?
The short answer is that your brain does not like to change.
Our mind is one of the most powerful tools in the world. It is like a nuclear factory that can either give you free electricity or that will destroy you forever. The brain has a sly tendency to convince you to get back to your old habits by making, what I call, ‘insane pseudo connections’.
However, as a winner, you are not here to quit. So, to overcome this problem here is a step by step practice, you can utilise:
Step #1 Plan Ahead
“If you leave your growth to randomness you will land in the field of mediocrity”.
Always plan ahead of time what you want to achieve. I, personally, plan a week ahead to make sure I eliminate the threat of unexpected emergencies.
Say you plan to get lean and fit, so you chose to eat healthy food. The best way would be to make a grocery list at the start of every week. Be specific with this list, with items and their quantities.
Additionally, make sure your plan is realistic, or else you are bound to face disappointment, increasing your chances to quit.
Step #2 Stick To That Plan
Once you make a plan, you have to stick to it. Holding on is the hardest part. When the brain feels the temptation, it is going to make those insane connections to convince you to ditch your plan and fall back to old habits. In this situation, all you need to do is delay the action of temptation.
For instance, when you are buying your groceries, you stick to what is on the list. You might see a pizza or a steak sandwich on the shelves. The trick is to delay the response of buying those items. Know that you can always come back to that supermarket to buy that stuff, so go ahead and do the billing of your healthy food.
Step #3 Talk Yourself Out of It
Self-talk is an essential step. If missed, you would fall back to your temptation like a zombie. What you essentially need to do is to expose those insane connections by proving them to be ‘false’ or ‘made up’.
In our example, once you come back from the supermarket with healthy food, listen to yourself on the way back. Listen to what connections your brain is trying to make, are they real or just out of air? Question every assertion your mind is preparing to make.
Why would a pizza and a beer help me relax? Or if I am having a hard day, why do I want to ruin it even more by partying tonight? I know I am going to feel worse with a hangover tomorrow. When you ask these hard questions, you get to hold on your brain in a position, where you can flawlessly execute the next step.
Step # 4: Take action
When your brain asks you to fall back on bad habits, it’s because something is not going as planned in your life. Maybe you are having a hard day, or perhaps you are frustrated or just “not in the mood.”
The essential thing is to recognise it and do something about it. If you have a hard day, why not go out for a long walk today? You might be too bored to work on your project, how about hitting the gym or, if in the office, practice your conversation skills with others?
We all have a choice, but sometimes, the options are not that easily recongisable.
Step # 5: Reward yourself
It is psychologically proven that our deeper part of the brain, the more primitive one, has to be in negotiation with the outside one, the more logical part. If the agreement is not in place, you will fall back to old habits. Consider your primitive part to be that emotional animal that you can tame with your logical brain. For that, you need to set up small rewards now and then.
In the example above, you can have a treat once a week and have healthy food for rest of the six days.
Or you can have those few sips of red wine after abstaining from vodka for a whole week. The important part is to develop peace and happiness inside you, which will make you feel the results and will also keep you on track.
In essence, the whole idea is to make your brain work for you and not against you. You can do that with constant conditioning and listening to what it is trying to say.
You must be in the association of people who are on the path or have already achieved what you wanted while hustling for it. I always stress that importance of social media and how you can utilise to your advantage. Make sure you subscribe to videos and music that take you to your goals.
Remember, when you quit you are hard wiring the tendency of yours to fall back when things get tough. To succeed, you have to face hardships almost every day. For that, you need a strong iron brain and an unshakeable conviction. Bring that to the table and watch the wonders happen.
Shantanu Sharma and The Real Life Education Team