In this post, I’d like to introduce you to what I call the pretzel brain twist.
You might be wondering exactly what that is. Have you ever set a big goal and immediately felt excited, invigorated and hopeful? Then, a few minutes later, you felt scared, doubtful and pessimistic? Well, my friend, you were a victim of the pretzel brain twist.
The pretzel brain twist is simply when your brain runs away with itself. You give it a problem to solve, such as how to accomplish a new goal, but it causes you to feel negatively about the goal by all the follow-up questions that result.
We are so used to trying to figure out HOW a goal will happen that we instantly talk ourselves out of accomplishing it. And in the times when you don’t ask yourself how, you can be sure that a naysayer will roll up and cause you to pretzel brain twist on yourself.
And that’s so unfair – both to you and the new goal that was about to grow.
How to Stop The Twist
First, you have to recognize the likelihood of your brain pulling a twist on you like that. Your brain is a problem-solving tool so it immediately goes to work when you give it a task. At the same time, we’ve been programmed to believe that if we don’t know HOW something’s going to happen, then we shouldn’t do it.
Let me show you that that’s not true.
How many endeavors have you begun without knowing the end result? How about college, relationships, jobs, friendships… the list goes on and on. You started with an intention – to do your best – and your actions followed that intention based on information you gathered at the time.
So when your brain tries to bombard you with questions, get in the habit of shutting that down.
Get your feelings out on paper. Frequently it’s difficult to just shut off your thoughts once they’ve begun. Instead, take that energy and use it. You can use the questions coming up in a way to help you get further in your planning instead of blocking your progress. Write down everything that comes to mind – your worries, your questions, your fears, your perceived roadblocks and your assumptions.
For the feelings that come up, I like to cross them out and remind myself why they’re not true. For example, you could say “I know that I can accomplish this goal because I rarely fail when I put my mind to it.” Fear is just a tool your mind uses to keep you safe and in your comfort zone. Respond to it accordingly.
Lead with your faith instead of your logic. Constantly remind yourself that everything that happens isn’t up to you. Whatever religious label you fall under, use your mind to connect to the source of your faith and believe that what you desire can happen for you. Trust that good things will unfold in your life, do the best you can and watch what happens. It starts from the moment you claim what you want in your life and have faith that God/the Universe is aligning the best possible result for you.
Be okay with where you are. All great achievement starts from somewhere. Your brain may attempt to twist itself up if you feel frustrated by starting from the beginning. Part of the lessons you learn and the journey you take involves stretching and growing as a person. You can’t do that if you jump to the end of the process.
I know firsthand that this is easier said than done. But you must practice patience along with faith that your dream is coming to pass. You must also get out of your own head and take action right where you are. Even if that action is just googling information about your goal, or finding people to talk to who’ve already accomplished what you’re aiming for. If you don’t actually start, you won’t get anywhere.
Do you recognize the times when you’ve been a victim of the pretzel brain twist? How will you get out of it next time?
I hope your Christmas shopping is completed, but if not, good luck out there! I saw news stories about long lines and bizarre behavior over Jordan sneakers. It’s really not that serious.
Our society has become material-driven during the holidays. You can always mark what holiday is coming by the elaborate displays in CVS and Target. The best gift to give to your loved ones, though, can’t be bought in a store (how’s that for a cliche, eh?). The best Christmas gift you can give to others is to give yourself all year long.
We tend to give everything we’ve got – all our time, energy, money and focus – to the people in our lives. Some of those people – like coworkers and members of organizations we’re in – aren’t even friends or family. Yet we roll up our sleeves and put in tons of effort for other people’s dreams.
Give Your Best, Rested, Focused, Present Self
Instead of spreading yourself too thin, worrying about how another person’s life will turn out and dwelling on past events you cannot change, why don’t you give your best self?
You can’t be a blessing in another person’s life if you’re tired, depleted, broke, and worried. Give yourself a break if you need it. Pull back from activities that aren’t absolutely necessary (i.e. not helping you pay bills), and learn how to say no. Saying no and being fully present and available when you can is better than saying yes and being a mess because you’re not at your best.
There’s a saying that “you can’t pour blessings into another’s cup if your own cup is empty”. I truly believe that as the truth.
Give Your Genuine, Unbiased, Unprejudiced Self
Along those same lines, you can’t be a blessing in anyone’s life if you’re being fake, judgmental or viewing their dreams and their problems through your own lens. We all want different things in life so it’s not fair to make someone else feel negatively about their desires because they choose something different than you do. In the end, what they need is your support and friendship, not another naysayer to kill their dreams. Put yourself in their shoes and give your best self.
Now I admit that this is something I’m working on within myself. I tend to be hard on others if I know that they’re capable of greatness. Yet I have to allow that we’re all in a constant state of evolution, heck I’m not where I want to be either. I’m getting to a place where I accept and have no judgements attached to the choices that people make in their lives.
Give Your Most Inspired, Loving, Nonfearful, Blissful Self
When you’re inspired, blissful, happy and hopeful, you’re connected to God and able to help others reach that same connection. That’s one of the most valuable experiences you can give to another. Yet when you’re feeling down, bitter, in a state of worry and feeling lost, what do you have to give? Find the happy place within yourself and do things that make you happy for no reason. You owe it to yourself to take the best care that you can, but you also owe it to others to share your talents and gifts with the world.
Stop putting yourself last. Put your health, mental state and happiness first. When you’re at your best you can give your best. Isn’t that what you really want?
Do you ever stop to wonder how far you could go, if only you never felt fear?
I often write about fear because it is such a pervasive force in our lives. Fear is the reason that a lion could look into the mirror and see a kitten. Fear is that little demon that sits on your shoulder and knows exactly what to say to get you to back away from your dreams. Fear is that knot in your belly that you can’t shake. Fear is that dark emotion that keeps you awake at night.
Did you know that fear isn’t real? Some call it False Evidence Appearing Real because it is a manufactured emotion that your mind uses to keep you ‘safe’. Safety doesn’t equate to success and it sure doesn’t equate to growth. It equates to the status quo; your mind tries to keep you safe because it knows that what you’ve already experienced is not a risk.
Stop Running From Your Pain
The simpliest way to get off the fear treadmill is to stop running. Just stop. When you feel that dread in your belly, recognize that your mind is the culprit. You’re in the midst of a thought that doesn’t feel good and is scaring the tar out of you. Look your fear dead in the face and don’t back down. Yes, it’s frightening. But your mind is trying to control you in that moment. Show it who’s boss – you.
Confront The Real Issues
Once you start noticing when you feel fear, you have to ask yourself specifically what triggers that feeling. Is it thoughts of doing something new – something you’ve been dreaming about? Is it remembering a mistake you’ve made in the past? Or is it admitting how much you don’t know about something?
Whatever the trigger, once you’ve identified it, next you have to dismantle it. The basic reason we feel fear is that, deep down, we don’t feel we can handle the situation we’re thinking about. So figure out why you’re telling yourself you can’t handle it before you’ve even tried. And if you’ve been unsuccessful in the past, ask yourself why you can’t handle this new attempt to conquor your goal.
Take Baby Steps
Begin to dismantle your fear by slowing proving to yourself that you can handle what you’re facing. Prepare as much as you can for what’s coming your way. Reflect on what you’ve done before and recognize the lessons that your past experiences hold for the goal in front of you. Your fear didn’t appear over night, so you can’t conquer it over night either.
Start From Where You Are, Right Now
You need to act today because you’ve already been held back by fear. Why continue to delay your dreams, when you have a plan to follow to start making progress? Besides, tomorrow is not promised. If you’ve been praying and hoping for a change, but you won’t move your feet, I guarantee that you’re missing out on the opportunities you’ve been asking for.
I promise you that your fear is worse than the actual thing that you fear. I admit that doing new things is uncomfortable but there is no growth in comfort. You must stretch yourself to reach the new place you need to go, in order to be the person you’re destined to be. Only you can delay that destiny by letting your fear rule you. Your life doesn’t have to be that way.
What fears have been holding you back from your next level of success? How can you start from where you are to dismantle these fears?
You know what terrifies me? The thought of getting to the end of my life and not accomplishing the major goals I set out to accomplish. Does that thought scare you too?
Ironically we’re all guilty of procrastinating and putting off starting our goals. If we’re scared not to accomplish them, why do we delay in starting? Why do we talk ourselves out of what we really want?
There are several reasons for this, but I believe the biggest two are fear and not being serious.
Time To Get SeriousI like to write about fear because it’s so debilitating. The feeling is real even though the reason we feel fear of success or failure is not. It’s simply the mind’s attempt to keep you safe, but at the same time it holds you back. Your mind isn’t structured to help you excel or thrive, it’s wired to help you survive. So anything above survival will be uncomfortable to do because it’s outside of your mind’s purpose.
You just have to talk yourself through your fears. Your goals won’t accomplish themselves, and saying “one day I’ll do it” won’t get it done either. Everyone feels fear, whether they make it look easy or not. And the famous people we look up to like Oprah, Bill Gates or Michelle and Barak Obama feel a stronger level of fear because they take bigger steps than the average person. They’ve just figured out how to feel their fear and do it anyway.
So if you have goals you wanted to accomplish in 2011 but didn’t, it’s time to get serious. Create a plan of how you’ll reach those goals in 2012, and think about the ways in which your mind convinces you to delay action. Come up with ways to get around this and take action TODAY.
We can keep dreaming about our dreams or we can finally move forward with what we want. Which choice will you make today? What accomplishments have you chosen for 2012, and how will you get started right now?