Making New Year’s Resolutions; Don’t Let Your Brain Fool You.

It is that time of year again that we make New Year’s Resolutions, or at least consider making them.

Good for you if you have found an area in your life where you can make an improvement and are at the point to actually take action.

But be careful; don’t let yourself be fooled by your own brain.

It is what happens to most people. They begin with the best intentions and believe that willpower will do the rest.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way, proven by the fact that about 90% of the people throw the towel within a few weeks.

Understanding how things work in your brain can make everything much easier and increase the chances of success dramatically.

When it comes to making changes in our life we have to line up two areas in our brain.

The first area is our prefrontal cortex, indicated by the circle on the left picture. It is the area where we plan, reason, solve problems and make decisions. For this reason, it is called our rational or cool area of our brain.

The circle on the right picture indicates what it is often collectively called our inner or emotional brain, also known as the hot area of our brain.

The function of our rational brain is to learn something as quickly as possible and the function of our inner brain is to consolidate those learnings and convert them into automatic programs also known as habits.

Keep in mind that our inner brain is, in fact, nothing more than a big recording and data machine. It is, in fact, an impersonal, non-thinking, emotionally reacting piece of body tissue.

The point is, however, our inner brain dictates 95% of our daily behavior and we are only aware of 10 to 15% of that behavior; everything else is on auto-pilot.

When you decide with your rational brain, residing in your cortex, to do something different in the New Year, it means that you are, in the end, depending on your inner brain for that change to happen. This means that you have to make some changes in that area of your brain as well.

Thinking that your inner brain will immediately follow the decisions you make with your rational brain is the mistake most people make.

It can happen, but not immediately. It takes time to over-write existing brain patterns in your inner brain. It is where that expression comes from; “it takes about three weeks to install new habits”.

Could well be, but it depends on what you want to change and how you do it. If you do it wrong, it may take forever to install new habits. On the other hand, if you do it right, it could happen much faster.

Point is, when you don’t do it correctly, you’ll invariably activate the defence systems part of your inner brain which is programmed to consolidate, not to easily make changes.

Because it can’t think or reason, it doesn’t understand that the changes you want to make are actually good for you.  Good or bad, the nature of your situation or habit really doesn’t matter; what is familiar and known is safe and everything else means danger.

The funny thing is, the moment you make a decision to change something in your life for the better, you do that with your rational brain. Your inner brain says nothing, thinks nothing and does nothing.

Until it senses that something in our outside your body is different from what it used to be…

The instruments it automatically activates to bring you back to safety are the basic survival instincts feed, fight, flee and freeze.

These instincts translate in daily circumstances into behaviour such as (excessive) eating, aggression, giving up and procrastinating, to name just a few.

Because they are linked to survival, they are tremendously powerful. Trying to tame them with your willpower is playing a losing game and setting yourself up for failure.

Don’t think you can ever change habits by going that route; it is not going to happen.

Change is the outcome of a true learning process that avoids activating the body’s natural stress responses and takes one’s internal and external circumstances into account.

In my presentations, break-out sessions/workshops and coaching I take the time to dissect the previous sentence and give my audiences all the what’s, how’s, tips and tricks so that they finally can achieve their goals and get where they want to be.

Lots of aha-moments and “wish I had known this earlier” is what I often hear.

And that without having to read another 200 to 400 pages self-development book stuffed with exercises hardly anybody can bring up the patience for to do them.

In other words, ready to save time and find out how we can work together to create lasting results for yourself or the audience you represent?

If your answer is yes then follow this link to my website and fill out the form to send me a message to get the ball rolling and make 2018 a year of consistently moving forward.

Have a great new start of the year and I look forward to your message and talking to you soon.

Patrick Streppel.

 

 

Change is inevitable, growth is optional…

These wise words come from Bob Proctor, one of the greatest speakers in the world. His words make total sense when you realize that we are living and therefore ever-changing organisms in an ever-changing environment.

In other words, change is never the question; it is everywhere and happening all the time.

The real question is: are we willing to grow to be able to keep up with the changes that occur inside and outside of us?

That’s the option or choice we have and often the source of a lot of discomforts because it is human nature to stay with what is familiar, known and therefore safe.

Referring to my last week’s blog; it is a strategy that worked perfectly for our far ancestors who lived in a harsh and simple environment and died around the age of forty.

Mother Nature dictated life’s cycle those days; people grew up, got strong, passed on their DNA, raised their off-spring and then…die;  time to say goodbye.

From Mother Nature’s perspective, things haven’t changed much since then. The moment we have fulfilled our biological role, she loses her interest in us.

And frankly, seeing how fast our bodies begin to decay, it even looks that she has begun working against us.

Thank you so much.

Luckily, because we have been able to build upon the knowledge from previous generations, we now have to ability to live into our eighties, nineties and beyond.

But as if it were a trick from the Gods, this privilege comes at a price.

What this means is that to live happily after the years after forty, we have to take over the steering wheel from Mother Nature to keep our body and mind in good condition.

In other words, we have to take care of our fundamentals; effective exercising, healthy nutrition and sufficient rest and sleep.

If we do, we can give direction and structure to our lives and enjoy a rewarding and fulfilling second phase of life for ourselves and our loved ones.

If we don’t, we give away our power and have to accept life the way it rolls out to us with all ensuing consequences that begin with a quickly deteriorating health.

Think of this; according to a report in Archives of Internal Medicine, four healthy lifestyle factors — never smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and following a healthy diet — together appear to be associated with as much as an 80 percent reduction in the risk of developing the most common and deadly chronic diseases.

Considering the consequences for ourselves and our loved ones, do we actually have the option to learn about the changes like, for instance, those that occur in our body, and to grow, meaning develop new personal skills to accommodate those changes?

“No, but how do you do that when you already have to work so hard to handle all the daily obligations and responsibilities?”

I hear you, and that is where I would like to help.

After having to go through a lot of changes and challenges in my personal and professional life, it is my mission to share my knowledge and experience with everybody who is ready and open to change, with the aim to make their life easier.

This goes further than physical health because even though this is an important aspect of our overall health, other aspects play a role too. Think of mental and emotional health, professional health and social health.

Everything is connected, and when one underperforms, the others will also suffer.

My presentations and workshops are built around giving people all the information they need to get on track toward a healthier and more creative and productive lifestyle.

Straightforward tools and techniques they can apply immediately and that cover what to do and how to do it, including how to overcome roadblocks that will certainly appear on the way toward achieving goals.

Let’s connect today and begin a conversation how I can add value to your life and the lives of the people you represent.

Just follow this link to send me a message, and I’ll contact you at a day and time that suits you best.

Talk to you soon.

Patrick Streppel.

The Power of Relaxation and Simplicity

Bringing and keeping your body and mind in a relaxed state throughout the day is by far the best thing you can do preserve your physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Perhaps the best way to realize the benefits of relaxation is to look at what happens to us when we are in a stressed state.

The first thing to realize is that living in stress means living in survival. People often find this difficult to understand; “what do you mean survival? I don’t see myself in a situation that I could die from whatever threat. I may be busy, and things may be a bit hectic, but that’s okay, things will settle soon.”

That may be true, but the point is that your body and mind have a different view on that. Even though we live in a modern world, our brains haven’t changed more than ten percent over the past fifty thousand years, and our DNA hasn’t changed at all over the past two hundred thousand years. In other words, whether we like it or not, our bodies and minds still behave like they did thousands of years ago when confronted with a threat.

We still react in the same way…

In those days, threats and danger came from enemies, predators, famine and similar very basic survival situations. Because we haven’t changed much since those days, our brains nowadays still perceive threats in the same manner, and it really doesn’t matter that in today’s society those threats have transformed into problems related to work, relationships, money, family, health, sexuality or purpose in life.

The funny thing is also that it doesn’t make a difference whether the threat is real or imagined. Simply close your eyes, think of a scary event and feel the terror creep upon you.

The direct effect of stress on body and mind is that blood is shunted away from the gut section to arms and legs for running or fighting and to the brain for fast thinking. All other body functions that don’t play a crucial role in dealing with the threat are temporarily put on hold. Think of processes such as digestion, assimilation, healing, and recovery.

Forget about clear and rational thinking too. Stress creates tunnel vision. We don’t oversee all our options but tend to choose from a limited number of options that in most cases are not the smartest.

Think of this; we worry about our health, relationships, career, finances or the meaning of life and the tools we get from our brains to work with these conditions are the survival tools feeding, fighting, fleeing or freezing.

Sounds like someone handing you a hammer when you need an electric screwdriver.

Clearly, the survival tools we still use to deal with today’s challenges are hopelessly outdated.

The really worrisome thing is that our brain forces us to use those tools whenever we feel stress come up.

It happens all the time, and we can see it everywhere; many people who feel challenged react with excessive eating, aggression, avoiding difficult situations or simply feel helpless and don’t know what to do.

Not really helpful and effective tools in our complex modern-day society.

What to to do?

How then to avoid becoming the victim of our own survival tools that tend to turn our lives into a mess?

The short answer is: by bringing and keeping yourself in a state of relaxation throughout the day.

When you are in a relaxed state, stress can’t exist, and you automatically avoid the outdated survival actions feeding, fighting, fleeing and freezing from getting in your way.

More goodness; all your body systems will run smoothly, and you will be able to think clearly and make the wise decisions that will help you to create the life you want to live.

There are many ways to reduce or eliminate stress.

Simplicity is the key-word.

Among the many things you can do, here are two very effective actions you can take that will create enormous clarity in your life and will cost you nothing.

First, take a look at your agenda and see what you can reorganize, combine, delegate or stop doing. Decide what the “big rocks” are in your life, give them a place in your agenda and work around those rocks with smaller items.

Be sure that there is harmony between your interests and the interests of others. Realize that if you don’t take care of yourself, stress will be just around the corner with all ensuing consequences, one of which is that you can’t be of much help to others. Know that your happiness is their happiness.

Next, clean up your environment and then get rid of things you don’t use. Focus on one room in your house at the time and check for items you don’t use or wear anymore and probably never will. Realize that all the things you have, in some way take up space in your house and your mind and complicate your life.  Sell, give or throw away what you don’t need and keep what really matters.

These actions may sound simple, but don’t underestimate the positive effects on your physical, emotional and mental well-being.

Things get even better when you notice that the clarity and relaxation you’ll see emerge in your life as result of these simple actions form a wonderful foundation for new possibilities and experiences.

In my talks and conversations, I share insights, tools, and techniques that help people to get in the best possible situation to create the life they want. If you want to explore how you and the audience you represent can benefit from what I offer, just leave your message on this page, and we take it from there.

Talk to you soon.

Patrick.