Everyone is stopped by fear
Fear can and will stop you from even starting on the path to achieving your goals. So what can you do about it? Do you ever feel like you are in two minds about something? There is a reason for that. You literally are. Here’s where a little bit of an insight into how your brain works can help a lot.
You have two competing departments one is run by the left prefrontal cortex the other is run by the right prefrontal cortex and they have opposing functions. When you decide you want to achieve something this generates positive thoughts of the anticipation and expectation in the left prefrontal cortex of your brain. The pleasure and reward centers of our brain are activated amplifying the urge.
In simple terms if the left prefrontal cortex is switched on then the right prefrontal cortex (which is the worry and concern centre) is switched off. It also means the amygdala which is the primitive part of the brain that activates the flight, fright or freeze response is not triggered.
Why is this important? It operates a bit like a light switch. If you are activating the part of your brain that generates positive feelings of anticipation of your achieving your goal then that part of your brain is what is running the show. Making it easy to focus on moving towards your desired outcome. This is how you focus on how you can achieve your goal. The formula is:
Positive Anticipation + Action = Motivation
That motivation then creates more motivation. In the words of Peter Bregman
“You get the energy to do the thing from doing the thing”.
Now focus on a long term goal and determine three actions you can take towards achieving that goal and then take at least one of those actions today!
Anticipation arising out of the emotion plus the behaviour of taking action is what strengthens your mental muscles and propels you towards what you want. In this way momentum to achieve your goal becomes hard to resist and the side of you that focuses on all of the reasons why you cannot achieve what you want is turned off.
Momentum works just as effectively in the other direction. When the switch is in the other position and the right side of the prefrontal cortex is activated instead; your brain is concerned and fearful “thinking” of all of the reasons why you cannot achieve what you want.
We have two types of attention: Deliberate and Automatic. Due to our biology and evolution we have a built in bias to run on Automatic. Here’s the problem the Automatic default is to the right prefrontal cortex which runs on fear and concern so the brain is biased towards recognising FEAR and has plenty of back up in the form of the amygdala.
Unless you take proactive control of your focus, switching on the left prefrontal cortex that runs on positive anticipation you will tend to run by Fear rather than Positive Motivation.
Take proactive control! Use your positive emotion to anticipate the achievement of your goals and switch off your concerns and fears. Strengthen this mental muscle by taking at least one action in the direction of your goal each and every day. Then reward yourself for having done that.
Tanja & John
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