Your brain is protecting you…and blocking your progress

Our brains are wired to keep us alive. From the many years of neurological research we are now lucky to have available, we know the amygdala’s key role is to protect and prepare us for emergency events. Unfortunately for us, it hasn’t evolved from the paleolithic times and cannot decipher between a sabre tooth tiger attacking us and the project deadline for next week. So, we get it – it’s constantly looking for the risks which are traditionally seen as negatives. And negatives generally stop us from doing things out of our comfort zone.

Over the years, we train our brains to see certain scenarios and situations as negative – riding a bike without a helmet, eating “bad” food, verbalising what you really think etc. And this isn’t always a bad thing. We need these guidelines to help us navigate safely through life (and stop us from making fools of ourselves sometimes!). However, where does our brain stop seeing things as a threat and start seeing them as opportunities?

What’s happening in your brain when you feel threatened?

I met a new contact at a function recently who, after asking him what he does he immediately delved into the things he does differently to his industry peers by way of explaining his perceived negatives and all the things he is probably doing wrong. I didn’t know this guy prior, hadn’t met him prior, didn’t know what he did. And that’s how he sold himself to me?

Whenever we have things like change, whenever we’re feeling a little unsettled, our brain starts to feel unsafe, and that’s when we can start to pull back from our performance. In this particular circumstance, this person, for one reason or another, felt unsafe and his protection mechanism was to focus on all the things he probably does wrong. That way, if I was to uncover said perceived wrong-doings, it wouldn’t be an issue because he warned me already and set himself up for a comfortable fall. In his mind, the brain was softening the blow when he failed.

Now imagine this same example from a different perspective. I ask him what he does, and he challenges himself to focus on the positives of his business and his abilities. The difference he can bring to his service delivery. He focuses on changing his language, “he is good at this because…” and looks for the evidence which proves him correct. Not only is he making a much better impression, but he is training his brain to overcome the perceived negatives and challenges that the years of “practice” have taught him.

Only 10% of people see obstacles as opportunities

Over the years, the learned behaviours and beliefs you’ve created have established your world today. If those behaviours and beliefs are limiting in some way, they are also limiting you from further progress. If you continue to tell yourself you can’t do it, you’re not good at it, you always fail, guess what…you’ll be correct! Your brain wants you to be comfortable, so it will do anything to sabotage your progress.

The good news is we know we are able to retrain our brain, it’s just like a muscle and needs gym sessions too! If we can use these brain hacks to overcome situations like the above, and really work through a situation, you can really take things to the next level. And the good news is that any obstacle that appears in your way you can certainty start to see as an opportunity.

If you would like to know more about retraining your brain for performance, get in touch today.


If you’d like to find out more, join the conversation in our next open workshop.