Are you trapped in a tangle of your own words and thoughts, unable to move forward? You know what you want to achieve, but you’re stuck. Perhaps you’re anxious, even afraid? Worse still, you know you’re stopping yourself, but can’t help it. There is always a way forward.
First, congratulate yourself. The crisis is a sign of your own intelligence. You think deeply and powerfully, otherwise you wouldn’t be stuck in the first place. Now, harness your very capable brain to work with you rather than against you.
In many ways you’re following nature’s design. Deep within your brain are centers that protect you from harm. We call this your primitive brain. It is designed to keep you safe, by driving questions like “what if I fail?” and “what if I get hurt?” It has a loud voice and plays a valuable role in your life, but you simply can’t allow it to be the dominant voice in your head.
You have two other important parts to your brain. If you allow them to, both your cognitive and emotional brains can become enslaved by the cautionary voice of your primitive brain. This is a dangerous situation. “What if I fail?” “How will that feel?” “How will I face my family and friends?” Negative cognitive responses like this can trigger a prolonged downward spiral. We call this “brooding”. When your thoughts dwell on potential negative consequences, you reinforce doubt. Then your emotional brain joins the gloomy chorus, paralyzing you with fear.
The good news is that your cognitive brain is under your voluntary control. More than this, it has the capacity to over-ride both your emotional and primitive brains. You have it within you to redirect the your cognitive brain towards positive thoughts. These then become the dominant voice in your head, and you’re able to overcome fear and move forward towards your dreams again. Simple, but not necessarily easy.
If you find yourself stuck in a web of doubt and fear, start by asking questions that challenge your primitive brain. Instead of “what happens if I fail?”, ask “what happens if I succeed?” “How will this feel?” “How will I spend the million dollars?” Then move towards increasingly positive statements. “There are many good alternatives to failure”. Later, “I have what it takes to succeed”. Finally, “I will succeed”. With more positive statements echoing in the corridors of your mind than negative ones, victory is within your grasp.