Yesterday I did a presentation that I wanted to share with you. My presentation was about “Time Management and the importance of commitment”.
Most of us already know that “we only have 24 hours a day”. We also realize that if there’s a goal we want to achieve, that we need to plan for it and schedule it in our calendars. We may also realize that we need to prioritize the goal. Unfortunately, most don’t commit to achieving the goal and honoring their word. Like the old adage states, it’s easier said than done!
How many times have you said to yourself that you are going to do something, write it down, plan it, schedule it, genuinely believe you are committed, and then not follow through?
Today, I want to show you an incredibly unique and different strategy to approaching this dilemma, and I want you to start practicing it today!
When people hear the “voice in their head” they believe that the speaker is “them”. The realization is that the “thought” or “voice” is not entirely you, but only a part of you. It is the verbal expression of your primitive brain.
Our brain has evolved during millions of years, adding more complex layers on top of the more basic layers, which we call the “primitive brain”. This is the part of your brain that manages a lot of the “automatic” functions in your body. Things like breathing, your heartbeat, looking out for danger, conserving energy, etc.
Then we have the more complex layers that have evolved and are unique to humans. Specifically, I am talking about our prefrontal cortex (animals have a very small prefrontal cortex). This part of the brain is the one that can plan, organize, empathize, and learn from mistakes.
So, who is your true self? Your true self or conscious self is the complex brain that can realize how the primitive brain’s “voice” in your mind doesn’t think, plan, organize, it just reacts, runs around scared and behaves like a little winey child. The one that creates mental obstacles that can either keep you legitimately safe, or create unreal obstacles that keep us from reaching our goals.
For example, when you are trying to lose weight, have a plan, and suddenly you have a thought or urge that says, “I want a cookie”, “just one…” “nothing will happen if I have it”… this is your primitive mind speaking. The one that says, “I’m going to stick to the plan because I want to be healthy and look great” that is your complex brain speaking, your “true self”. The important thing to realize is that our primitive brain has so much power over us and we don’t even realize it, most of the time.
Understanding that there are two voices in our heads gives us the power to be self-aware. When you have a goal and your primitive mind tries to sabotage you, remember, that it does not do it on purpose, it is only working to try and keep you warm, safe, fed, conserving energy, seeking pleasures, etc. without any thought or consciousness. It is reactive like a deer popping it’s head up in the grasslands when it hears a sound.
The realization and my recommendation is to give your primitive brain a name. Have fun with it. I am going to call mine “Nelly”.
The next time your primitive brain speaks out and comes up with unreasonable excuses, judges others, wants something that will jeopardize your plans, you can talk back to it and say “NO”.
Imagine you see a person without a mask entering a supermarket (in many places they are now mandatory due to Covid-19) and your automatic thought is “This person just doesn’t get it”, “he/she shouldn’t be doing this”, “he/she puts us all in risk”, etc., etc. This is your primitive brain trying to keep you safe, trying to protect you. You can then speak back to your primitive brain and have a healthy dialog that goes something like this:
True Self to Nelly: “Nelly, why do you think this person shouldn’t be doing this?”.
Nelly responds: “Because it is putting us all in risk of getting infected”.
True Self to Nelly: “It’s OK Nelly, we are not going to walk close to this person, why do we need to get upset about it when we can’t control him/her?”
Nelly responds: “But it’s wrong...!”
True Self to Nelly: “He/she is an adult and it’s his/her choice, can you control what she/he does?”
Nelly responds: “NO” …
True Self to Nelly: “Ok, so just let it go”.
Work to calm your primitive brain down.
Notice that if you do not speak to your primitive brain, it can keep you upset for the rest of the afternoon. You will even talk about it with your family because the thought will STILL be present in your mind. However, if you speak back to “Nelly”, she is going to calm down and let things go.
Now, on the opposite side, your primitive brain can also bring a lot of good things to you, like intuition. The point is, listen to and rationalize between your primitive and complex brain, become self-aware.
Have you ever noticed how much time and energy we waste on things we can’t change? Can you image how much more productive you can be if you used all that time and energy for something better, like committing to your goals?
Working with a Life Coach is a great way to start to understand why we do what we do. If you are interested in understanding yourself and to grow as a person, feel free contact me for a 30 minutes complimentary session.