23 Jun Change Is Scary, Deal With It.
I’ve always been fascinated with the human mind. I love to sit back and observe what people do and try to figure out why they did it. It’s really amazing the things people will put themselves through, simply because they don’t understand how the human mind works. One of the biggest observations I see is people will learn how to function in dysfunction or misery rather than do what’s necessary to change out of fear of the unknown. This issue is universal across all aspects of life. You’ll see it with people and their jobs, unhealthy relationships, unhealthy habits, you name it and you’ll see people acting in this manner. Have you ever wondered why this is? Is it because people are crazy? Stupid? I mean, common sense says if we dislike something or if something isn’t benefitting us just change it. While logically it’s a simple solution, in actuality it’s much easier said than done. In this article I’m going to explain some things about the mind and once you understand how it works it will help you make the necessary decisions that will better your life.
1) Our Minds Are Wired To Think Negative – Have you ever noticed that’s it’s much easier think negative thoughts than positive ones? Also, have you noticed that negative events get the most attention and biggest reactions from people (if not, just look at your social media newsfeed)? This is because our minds have not evolved from our early hunter and gatherer days. Back in those days, the human mind was always on alert for wild animals and very tough living conditions. It was about survival, not happiness or positivity. The mind’s main function was to keep you alive. Well, needless to say, our mind has not evolved with the times and it has similar responses to anything we perceive as dangerous. Unfortunately, in modern times, things we perceive as dangerous aren’t that bad at all, we just have a hormonal response as if they are. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily, if you understand how to deal with it.
A simple solution is to accept the fact that negative thoughts are going to happen. Rather than try and suppress them, or run from them, you need to accept that they are there and learn to take a step back and see the situation for what it really is (non-life threatening). If we can learn to see the situation for what it is, it gives us more clarity on how to handle ourselves making it easier to take action.
2) The Mind Wants To Avoid Pain More Than It Wants To Gain Pleasure – Here’s a scenario. I approach a person who is barely making ends meet at a job they hate. Long hours with little pay and not much to show for it. I approach this person with a business opportunity with $100.00 cost to get started (yes, in today’s world with the internet and network marketing, you can own your own business for very cheap). I tell this person their best option is to quit their job and go all in on their business. With sustained effort, they can make way more money than their current job and do it on their time. Do you think this person will quit their job? Most likely they won’t. Obviously, there’s risk involved but the risk isn’t what’s keeping them there. What keeps them there is the negative thoughts. Rather focusing on how much they can improve their life by taking a chance and walking away, they will focus on things like “what if this doesn’t work”, “how will I pay my bills”, “what if nobody believes in me” just to name a few. With the uncertainty, the person can’t bring themselves to take the risk because they feel the pain of being wrong is worse than staying in their current situation. Remember the mind is wired to think negatively and people learn to operate in their dysfunction so for many it’s very hard to take risks and deal with uncertainty because of the slightest chance of the worst case scenario.
I see this all the time when it comes to people exercising and eating better. Many people suffer from severe health issues due to unhealthy daily habits. Many of these people have gotten used to living life overweight, on medication, with low energy and forgot what it’s like to feel good. Approach these people with a diet and exercise regimen that will make them look and feel better and many won’t do it. Why is that? The fear that giving up their old habits will cause pain and discomfort. The mind races “what if this doesn’t work”, “I don’t like being sore”, “I can’t live without chocolate” which results in a perception of pain. They feel by changing they will feel worse so they rather stay where they’re at. Know this when you’re about to make any change whether it’s diet or exercise, or a relationship change, your mind will perceive the uncertainty of the risk as potentially painful experiences rather than joyful ones, so you must accept that there are potential negative risks but also look at the positive side. Ask yourself what if this does work out for the better what my life will look like? Also, ask yourself, “what if I continue to stay the same, what will my life look like?” In most cases, this answer to the later question won’t be one that seems so comfortable.
3) Negative Thoughts and Fear Are Trumped By Action – Many people when faced with uncertainty and negative thoughts choose to do nothing. If they continue thinking about the situations the thoughts only get worse, increasing the odds of you not changing. One thing people don’t realize is that these thoughts and fears are like a bully, once you punch him in the mouth, he loses power. Just like a bully, the only way to deal with fear is to confront it. By taking action, you’re not going be dwelling in your negative thoughts. You may not completely conquer the fear right away but each time it gets better and better. That’s why you hear the phrase “all of your hopes and dreams are on the other side of your comfort zone”. Don’t get me wrong, nervousness, anxiousness, and other human emotions will still be there, but by confronting the issues you learn how to handle it much better. Just like most people learn to operate in their dysfunction, you can learn to thrive despite feelings of nervousness and anxiety. You have a choice, you can sit back and do nothing (which ultimately makes things worse) or you can take a chance and do the thing you’re afraid of. In both scenarios, you’ll be nervous just one will get you want you really desire.
Some of you reading may be asking, “Jimmy how does this apply to working out”? Like I stated earlier any change is hard, and when confronting change and uncertainty your mind is wired to think very negatively. Most people get stuck at this point and do nothing. When you understand that the mind is wired this way, you can begin to analyze your thoughts much better. Once you realize nobody is going to make fun of you at the gym, giving up chocolate temporarily won’t be the end of the world, that the soreness isn’t as bad as you think it is, you’re more likely to embrace the positive aspects of working out and eating right. Then as you punch fear in the face, you’re able to stay disciplined, even when the negative thoughts begin to creep back in. Always keep in mind, changes in your lifestyle will be scary at first but it’s most likely your mind playing a trick on you.
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