The Brain Game: Arrest & Redirect

Do you encounter those times when you know you should do something, but something inside keeps you from moving forward? Do we make excuses on why we can’t act upon the desire? The reason is, we think too much! When a thought enters our brain, we either think about it, or we act upon it. Contrary to public belief, it is that thinking about it that makes us the victim of our circumstance. When a thought enters our mind, the first place it hits is our emotional center. It is there that our amygdala kicks in to tell us all the reasons why we shouldn’t act upon anything new or risky.  

 The amygdala, we’ll call her Amy, creates fear, causes our palms to sweat and our heart rate to rise. She is a constant naysayer. In fairness, Amy is responsible for our fight or flight and is actually trying to protect us. She is trying to help you survive, but it is really holding you back. Luckily for us, we have a way to override this reaction. We can re-wire the pathways in the brain so that when we are faced with something new or different, Amy won’t react in the negative, but in the way, we have trained her. 

  1.  Interrupt the Thought 

When your amygdala (Amy) tells you No, you have to interrupt the thought immediately. It goes something like this “no Amy, not today.” This is called pattern interruption. Think about it like re-booting your iPhone when it gets stuck. You have to break the constant flow of how things happen, and force it to get into “what now?” mode. It’s at the time of the pattern interrupt that you can insert changes into the unconscious programming. When the unconscious is saying to you “OK, what do you want me to do now?”, this the point where there is space for you to insert new instructions.

2. Take an Action 

Once you have interrupted the thought, you must make a physical movement with your body. If you are trying to decide to go talk with someone you need to meet for the first time, begin taking steps towards that person immediately after saying “No Amy, not today.” 

 3. Assign an Emotion

This is critical! Emotions send action signals to the muscles and organs of the body to prepare us to do something. Each emotion carries general motivation for behavior. The positive feelings of something feel more emotionally enjoyable than the downside feels negative. So tell yourself what you will feel when you have taken action. 

 Our brains never stop growing, and we can create new habits by doing something over and over again creating lasting change. How many of you have made a move to a new home after living somewhere for a few years? The first few weeks you had to be very conscious about the route you traveled home after work or your unconscious would take you to your old residence. However, after many days and weeks of going to your new house, it became an old habit. The same is true here. We must interrupt Amy over and over again before new pathways are created, but they will be, and soon your new action will become natural. You will even look forward toward it because there is a new emotion assigned to it and that is an emotion of excitement and anticipation of what is on the other side.