I should’ve started when I was younger. There’s too many other people already doing it. I don’t know if I have enough experience to even do what I want to do. Maybe I should wait? I probably need a specific degree. I’ll probably suck at it. Maybe I should read another book first or (insert a million other excuses here). Sound familiar? This is the incessant chatter that happens daily in my anxiety-ridden mind when I so much as think of starting something new. Chances are you can likely relate. That’s because our brain loves to fill us with millions of reasons why we shouldn’t or can’t achieve something, instead of filling us with reasons we should and actually can. It’s not our brain’s fault though. We’ve been programmed this way since before we were born. It’s our factory setting courtesy of our ancestors running from bears and living in the wild. Our primal brain is wired to give us tons of possible scenarios as to what might happen if we try something new. It does this in an effort to keep us “safe.” Our primal brain especially loves to focus on the potentially scary or negative outcomes, because those are the thoughts that warn us of potential threats and keep us from harm’s way. Our brain is just trying to protest us. That’s all good and fine when you’re living in the Paleolithic era or are in actual danger. However, in day-to-day life in 2022, when one of the scariest things to people is not getting enough likes on a photo, this factory brain-setting seems to be more of a malfunction than anything. No offense, Cavemen ancestors. This programming is keeping us from reaching our dreams. It’s time we reprogram ourselves to quiet this part of the brain more often, since we truly don’t need it as often as our ancestors did.
Dreams and new adventures aren’t going to feel safe and that’s okay. Likewise, we are no longer living in caves, but we can’t expect the primal part of our brain to just know that and to stop sending constant alerts. Our primal brain still freaks out every time it hears a twig snap. It’s our job to override the system and shut down the fearful thoughts coming from that part of the brain when they aren’t beneficial to the present moment.
When my anxiety starts up regarding something new I want to try and my primal brain begins with its usual doomsday scenarios, I literally say to myself, “Thank you, but I don’t need survival tools right now.” Your brain gives you suggestions. You don’t have to take them. Try it right now. Think of all the reasons you aren’t pursuing something you want to in life. Allow the brain to start rolling out the reasons for a few moments and then stop it right in its tracks. Say, “Thank you, but I don’t need survival tools right now.” Pause right now and try it. Continue to do this every time made-up fearful scenarios emerge. Focus on the truth. You can do whatever it is and someone, if not hundreds or thousands of someones, have already proven that.
While we all may appear extremely different from one another, our primal brain has been programmed the same via those same ancestors and their experiences living in the wild. This means that anyone who has become successful in life (whatever that means to you) has had to override their primal brain. They had to ignore all the scary scenarios the brain gave them and persist beyond the brain’s fears. They had to throw caution to the wind. You’ve already done this numerous times in your life without realizing it. If you’ve ever taken a risk; took a job you weren’t totally sure you were ready for, began a relationship after the last one didn’t go so well, tried a new hobby, moved to a new place…each of those times you had to quiet your primal brain and continue to push forward. You pushed past the fear-based thinking. Let that be the proof you need. Proof that you already know how to override this part of your brain. Writing that book, creating that YouTube channel, getting that real-estate license, starting that blog, going back to school, quitting your job or whatever your dream may be; it won’t kill you! Your brain just has you feeling like it might.
Since your brain isn’t filling itself with reasons you’ll succeed, you’ll have to do this for it. On top of saying, “Thank you, but I don’t need survival tools right now,” you can also write, say and read daily affirmations. This is a way of reprogramming your brain. Affirm the seemingly impossible is actually possible and pretty soon your thoughts and actions will begin to reflect that and guess what? Your brain will even jump on the bandwagon and start believing it! Just think of something you’ve already achieved. It probably was scary at first, but now you don’t have any fears about it. Buying your first house? Trying a new workout? Well, well, well, look at you reprogramming your brain. You’re a badass.
Daily affirmation examples:
-I’m a _____. I love my job and it makes more than enough money for me to provide for myself and my family. I even have extra income to donate to ______.
-I’m working as a _____ and can afford everything I’ve ever dreamed of.
-I’m living my dream life. I get to ______ every day and I feel financially secure.
Make your affirmations as specific as possible. Fill your dream in the blanks and don’t be scared to get even more detailed i.e. I can bring my dog with me, I have a corner office, I live 5 minutes away, I’m the CEO, I have x-amount of employees, etc. Tailer the affirmations to whatever it is you want to reprogram your brain to believe is safe and possible. If you can imagine it, it’s possible.
There is a whole other life waiting for you on the other side of your primal fears. Don’t let your brain’s age-old protective mechanisms keep you from living it.