Your Brain Loves You Just The Way You Are
Your brain likes you just the way you are. In fact, it doesn’t want you to change a thing. As Mark Darcy once stated to a flustered Bridget Jones:
“I like you very much. Just as you are.”
That’s how our brains feel about us. It’s quite touching really.
But you, on the other hand — because your brain is a completely different entity with its own laws and agendas — have a slew of things you’d like to see change but you can’t figure out how to best navigate around the minefield of limiting beliefs your brain has placed all around you.
You can’t stop eating sugar, you’re too emotionally intertwined with what it represents, which is an escape from reality — BOOM
Look at you; you can’t even run a mile — go back to the couch where you belong — BOOM
You’ve tried a million times to “eat right” and workout, and you have yet to be successful. Stop the nonsense; you’re going to be overweight forever, accept it already — BOOM
And my favorite: You’re not ________ enough! (Fill in with anything; smart, pretty, young, wealthy, talented— BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM
So you’ve piled up your big, fat, scary goals into some remote corner, uncertain if you should toss them into the trash bin once and for all or invest the time and energy — again — into bringing them to life.
These discarded goals are the victims of your brain's inability to maintain ambition and motivation. When the going gets tough, your brain pushes back, convincing you that it’s too hard, too messy, and too uncomfortable to put forth the effort, so you cave.
Your poor discarded goals, sitting there, looking so sad and pathetic. If only there were a way to bypass the fear and override your archaic caveman brain so your goals could have a fighting chance.
If only you could risk running over a limiting belief or two… oh, the things you could accomplish.
If only you could…
Get crystal clear
Achieving a certain goal requires a change in procedure. And an effective change requires clarity. Before doing anything, you need to get crystal clear on what you want.
From there, you must decide which areas of your life need the most focus. Are you unhappy with your body? Are you tired of working for a boss you can’t stand? Do you struggle to find a fitness routine that you can stick with for more than a month? Do you have a hobby you’d love to turn into a business?
Grab a notebook and begin writing down everything you’re struggling with. Dump it all out on paper and see, truly see, what you’re dealing with. Where are you now?
Once you’ve got that in check, the next step is to write out what you want your life to look like. What is happening 6 months from now? Or a year from now? In what area of your life have you made improvements in and what do they look like?
This is where you use your creativity and drive your stake in the ground. What sort of awesomeness do you want to see happen in your life?
Ignore that little, yet powerful voice that's echoing in your head “… but you can’t do that.. or that… or even that!” Write this out in spite of that self-limiting voice, no matter how loud it gets. (It’s just scared.)
Connecting the dots
Once you can clearly see where you are, and you have a clear vision of where you want to be, it’s a matter of hacking through the weeds to create your own path — because where you’re going, you haven’t been before.
This is unchartered territory. It’s not a wide-open, breezy pathway you're on; it’s an abandoned, over-grown trail and every step you take that lands on solid-footing will boost your confidence and drive you forward.
This is the most challenging part; creating your path. A realistic approach is to take on as little as possible in the beginning.
Yes, be slow to change. Very slow. But not so slow that you completely forget what it is you’re trying to achieve.
A good starting point is to pay attention to the things that bring you the most discomfort, and put forth effort there. The more uncomfortable you’re willing to get, the more progress you’ll make — nobody wants to hear that, but it’s true!
For example, if you want to change your body, begin pushing yourself harder during your workouts, getting a little sweatier, or lifting heavier weights. If you struggle with controlling yourself around food, start by giving up your nightly treat or after-dinner snack. If you lack the time to meditate but you really want to get into the habit, begin going to bed 20 minutes later or getting up 20 minutes earlier to make time for it.
If you want something you never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.
When embarking on creating change, it must be continually reinforced. That means you need to show up every single day and get ‘er done. And — this is extremely important — you must let go of your excuses. You know the ones:
I have no time. (Due to current quarantined conditions this one is uttered a little less often — but just wait, it will find it’s way back into our daily round-up if we’re not careful!)
I’m am super stressed out, this cookie is going to make me feel better.
It’s been a long day, I just want to plop on the sofa with my wine.
This is too hard!!!
I have so many other things I need to get done today, I’ll put time into “it” tomorrow.
Not one of these excuses shall escape from your lips ever again. They’re not real. They’re fabrications that keep you exactly where you are — far off your weed-ridden path to success! Taking action every day begins to clear away the weeds to reveal your next step.
It’s the little things you do every day that will make all the difference.
This could even be a simple review of how things have been going. Tracking your progress is motivational fuel. When I do monthly challenges, I create a spreadsheet for the sole purpose of checking off a box every day. It’s so simple and so satisfying, and you know what? It keeps me and a majority of the people in my challenges showing up every day.
Also, plan ahead for setbacks. Even a few days into trying something new and your brain will get pissed off. Mark my words! You may want to give up and you may even have what you think is a good reason to, but I challenge you to stick it out… because not many do.
Pick that one weed every day and keep hacking away at your path.
Ask big questions and give yourself time
We tend to let ourselves off the hook way too easily. When the struggle bus comes to town, we hop aboard and start singing our sad song… all over town.
Listen, there is no way to achieve results without going head to head with adversity. It’s never going to be easy but that’s ok, we’re not here to climb the mountain in a day.
When we get stuck, in a rut, or feel like life is out of control and there is no hope, that’s the best time to stop and ask questions. Take an hour if that’s what's needed to reassess, reevaluate, and plot a new course of action. It’s time well spent.
I can’t stress that enough. It’s time well spent.
Don’t be afraid to ask yourself hard questions, ones that challenge you and require thoughtful responses.
A few good ones that dig a little deeper:
What is better for me in the long run? Doing this one little thing today, or avoiding it because it’s hard?
Am I capable of more? What does “more” look like? Plot it out.
Am I a professional or an amateur? (In the words of Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, “The amateur tweets, the pro works.”)
And my favorite: Who do I have to become in order to make my goals a reality?
Answer these questions with as much honesty as you can. Sometimes the answers are so close to us but we don’t see them without a magnifying glass.
Asking better questions is how you grow, learn, and create new opportunities for yourself, ones that you may have not considered before. If you keep actively trying to achieve your goals, life will unfold before you and present newfound opportunities you never thought possible.
- Get crystal clear about where you are and where you want to be. From there, begin hacking away, as uncomfortable and difficult as it may be, and forge ahead on your new path.
- Constantly fuel your motivation by checking-in every single day to make sure you’re on track and moving forward. Taking a look back at your newly paved path can be inspiring! The power of progress is fuel.
- When you get stumped or frustrated, don’t give in. Ask new questions and take the time to answer them.
Your brain loves you just the way you are, and it will fight tooth and nail to keep you safe. Understand that, and forge ahead anyway.
AM Costanzo is a wellness coach and motivational junkie, loves a-ha moments, and works hard to help others feel strong, powerful, and downright fabulous in body and mind!