Do you own a rotary telephone? How about a horse and buggy? Do you connect to the internet via dial up? Rent your DVD’s from the local Blockbuster store? Type your emails on a typewriter?
Of course you don’t. These things are obsolete.
Society has improved and there are more efficient ways of doing things. As Kanye West says…harder, better, faster, stronger. All of these mechanisms have evolved.
You know what hasn’t evolved. Our brains. Most of us are still moving through life accessing the same part of our brain that our predacessors used during caveman days. Hundreds of years ago our brains existed to make sure we had food, shelter and sex. Those were the only things that mattered. Hunt and gather so we wouldn’t starve, find a good cave to hide in so we wouldn’t get eaten by a lion and find a partner so we could have babies. That’s it. Those functions existed because of our amygdala.
The amygdala are two little almond shaped areas of the brain that assist with basic survival. When you’re about to get up in front of that audience of people and your heart starts racing…that’s your amygdala working. When you sense that someone is watching you from afar and you turn to scan the room and see that pretty girl or guy checking you out…that’s your amygdala working. If you are an alcoholic or a drug addict and you have to have just one more drink or hit…that’s your amygdala working. Have a phobia…amygdala. Anxiety…amygdala.
The world has evolved, but our brains haven’t. We no longer have to hunt and gather to get food. We can drive our car up to McDonald’s and “Go Large”. We don’t have to scout for a safe place to sleep at night, we just go home to our nice temperature controlled houses. And we don’t have to be on the lookout every second waiting for that lion to jump up behind us and pounce. Our basic needs are taken care of thanks to things like industry and technology. These hacks have made life a hell of a lot easier. And yet our brains still function the same way they did hundreds of years ago.
Your prehistoric amygdala is the thing that keeps you from quitting that job to pursue work you find meaningful. It stops you from making that phone call to ask that girl out on a date. It abhores risk. It’s totally averse to it. It goes against everything it deems foreign…that’s what it was designed to do. Which is why you have to make a conscious effort to ignore it. You have to hack your obsolete brain. You’re the only one who can.
Most people go through life letting their prehistoric brains dictate their future. The amygdala is powerful. It makes you think you can’t do things that you know you can. It’s a genius at aiding you in making up excuses. “My website will never be as remarkable as that guys.” “I have a family to support.” “I’m not as good looking as she is.” “He has more experience than I do” “Our situations are completely different.” “My ideas are no good.” etc. etc. This is what Steven Pressfield calls resistance. The good ideas come first, and then the resistance comes immediately after. Big dream? Big resistance. No dream? No resistance.
Steve Jobs reinvented the cell phone and the rest was history. What if he had given in to the resistance? J.K.Rowling gave us the wizarding world of Harry Potter. What if she had given in to the resistance? Walter Elias Disney dreamt of a place where families could be entertained together. What if he had given in to the resistance?
Are you one of the people who are stuck in their day to day? Maybe there’s a better way of thinking about where you are right now in your life? The alarm system is faulty. It needs to be rewired. Stop playing defense so much and practice your offense. There are safety measures in play. Police officers, doctors and bankruptcy attorneys are all there to assist you if you fall. Take a leap even if it’s just a small one. It’s going to feel weird. You’re building up a mental muscle to fight your resistance. Then take a bigger leap. Keep taking leaps until you aren’t afraid. Until you realize the chasm isn’t as wide as you thought is was. All your successes are right over there on the other side.