The purpose of the organ called the brain is to keep the organism, and the species, alive. Therefore, the brain, whether you are asleep or awake, is always on the lookout for harm.
The Result: We make more decisions based on avoiding harm than we make to create joy. Every year, we experience the pain of humiliation, lost love, embarrassment, disappointments, betrayal and sadness. Therefore, the brain is on the lookout for possible attacks on the ego such as acts of disrespect, loss of credibility, and not being liked.
The Outcome: We take fewer risks, delay making vital changes, avoid intimacy at all levels (including connecting with new people as well as those we love), resist suggestions, rationalize the status quo, numb our brains so we feel less (suppress one emotion, you suppress them all…ever wonder where the passion has gone?), and decrease the capacity to see new opportunities and fresh ideas.
BRAIN TIP: SEEK TO CREATE NOT AVOID
Whenever you make an important decision, whether it is about a project at work or a personal relationship, ask yourself:
- What criteria am I using to make this decision?
- Is the criteria list heavily based on avoiding mistakes and pain?
- What feelings are truly driving this decision? Fear, guilt, embarrassment or anger?
- What am I afraid of losing, really? Being right, feeling significant, being liked? Or
- What do I think has been taken from me? Respect, love, attention, dignity?
Can you instead focus your criteria on joy? What decision would you make if you had nothing personally to worry about? What decision would you make that would make you feel positively challenged? What decision would you make that would make you feel good, where good is defined by your highest needs i.e. adventure, accomplishment, loved, admired?
Self-awareness is the first step to outsmarting your brain. Know what your brain is doing. Then choose to act in your highest good.