Knowing how to make good decisions that support you is vital to living a fulfilling and self-directed life. It’s how you reach, and then exceed your potential. So if you’re constantly being pushed around by fear-based, anxiety driven thinking, it’s time to stop listening to your Lizard fear-brain and start making decisions from a more empowered place.
Fear-based thinking seems to be on the rise. This makes sense given what’s going on around the world. We’re living in incredibly fast-changing and dynamic times. Change is something that your Lizard brain, the more primitive part of your brain that takes care of fight, flight or freeze responses, just doesn’t like. But when you’re letting this survival-driven part of your brain run the show and inform all of your important decisions, you’re dramatically limiting the scope of your choices in life. And when you constantly do this you end up stagnating. You feel even more frustrated, anxious and uncertain.
Knowing how to make good decisions in life that aren’t subconsciously driven by fear is the antidote to resisting change and getting stuck at your current level of success.
Flipping From Fear To Self Confidence: How To Make Good Decisions
#1 Centre And Ground
The first essential step to learning how to overcome fear is knowing how to centre and ground yourself. This instantly puts you into the present moment. And when you’re fully in the moment, you’re not ruminating on the past or constantly fast forwarding into the future. You’re then able to self-reflect.
Here are some effective ways to do this:
Breathing techniques, moving meditations like yoga, drawing, painting, gardening, swimming, body work – any activity that gets your attention fully immersed and engaged in the now and that grounds your energy is always the first step in disengaging from your Lizard brain’s fear-based, worst case scenario thinking. It’s getting out of your head and into your body and the Now.
#2 Trust Your Intuition and Gut Feel
When you know how to stop getting caught up in negative thinking and self-defeating scripts you’re able to screen out all the noise and tune into your intuition and gut feel on what’s best for you. Often you already know what’s going to bring you the most joy, fulfilment and opportunity. But when you’re constantly letting your Lizard brain butt in and tell you why it’s not such a good idea, you end up doubting yourself, and can’t see the woods for the trees.
That little voice deep down inside of you is there for a reason.
The more you listen to it and take what it’s trying to tell you seriously, the stronger and more valuable it becomes. Intuition is a valuable source of data. An energetic, non-verbal read on what’s going on within and around you. Most successful people totally get the value of it. But it often gets dismissed as ‘woo woo women’s fluff’ in the West because it’s not logical or considered to be evidence-based. Yet the more you ignore your intuition, the more frustrated and unfulfilled you end up in the long run. So stop listening to the limbic-brain, fear-based people around you, and start paying attention to what your intuition is trying to tell you. It will change the quality of your present and future life.
#3 Surround Yourself With Positive Self-Confident People
To maintain a positive mindset so that you’re able to make good decisions, you need to have self-confidence and self-belief. If you’re struggling to take control of your Lizard brain and learn how to make good decisions in life that support and nourish your body, mind, and spirit – then you need to seek out positive can-do types who already know how to do this.
This is the fastest way to learn any new skill. Subconsciously you’ll start to absorb and model aspects of their behaviours, mindset, attitudes, and beliefs. That’s also why you need to be discerning around who you choose to spend the most time with. Because you’re impacted the most by the 3 to 5 people around you each day. So make sure they are people who are positive self-actualizers.
Don’t waste years buying into a part of your brain that’s just not designed to encourage you to seek out new opportunities and growth. Irrational fears, inner-resistance, and anxiety-driven faulty beliefs are the biggest success killers around. They create all kinds of maladaptive, negative thinking habits and behaviours that can be tricky to dismantle and replace with more realistic and supportive ones if you’ve been holding onto them for years. Save yourself time and sort it out now so that 10 years later you’re not in the same spot, feeling frustrated and exhausted.
One of the trickiest things in life can be finding ways to stay motivated when you haven’t been investing in your wellbeing. Focusing on your wellbeing is a mindset and lifestyle choice. Looking after yourself in a conscious and mindful way.
Choosing to invest in your mindset and wellbeing is probably one of the most empowering and potent decisions you’ll ever make. Because staying positive and on track has a ripple effect. How much you focus on and invest in your mindset and wellbeing not only impacts the quality of your present, it powerfully impacts your entire future life.
It’s when you don’t commit to regularly investing in yourself and your wellbeing that it can be hard to stay motivated. It’s easier to lose your mojo and optimism. Negatively impacting your business, your results, your career, your relationships and your ability to handle the ups and downs of life. Particularly when things don’t go your way and it can seem like an impossible task to feel positive and optimistic about yourself and your future. And when you continuously neglect your wellbeing, you get disconnected from your true self, your body and your feelings – and what they are trying to tell you. Negative moods just seem to spring out of nowhere. You’re more easily discouraged and pushed around by your emotions and other people’s negative vibes.
Taking your mindset and wellbeing seriously changes your life in positive and powerful ways. It makes you mentally and physically stronger and naturally more optimistic. You stay motivated. You’re more resourceful and tenacious. Things that used to make you feel frustrated and powerless just don’t have the same impact. Sure, you still feel life’s challenges and setbacks, but when you’ve invested in yourself, your mindset and your wellbeing, you have far more self-confidence and inner reserves to deal with whatever life throws your way.
If you’ve been neglecting your wellbeing and stuck in a bit of a funk, here’s how you can set yourself up for better health, mental resilience and success in the areas of life that matter the most to you:
5 Ways To Stay Motivated And Invest In Your Wellbeing
1# Think outside the status quo of your subconscious mind
One of the quickest ways to get out of your own way and get re-inspired is to connect with positive people who get you and support you. You know, the types of people who are able to snap you out of any ‘glass-half-empty’ style thinking and offer helpful solutions and ideas around whatever it is that you’re dealing with. You walk away from these types of conversations energized, with fresh perspectives, feeling more positive about what’s possible. When you invest in good quality relationships it’s a sure-fire way to not get seduced into thinking you can sort things out on your own. Only to find months, sometimes years down the track, nothing has really changed and that you’re still stuck in the same old patterns. Our minds are very convincing. We can talk ourselves into ridiculously negative and self-defeating things, because of faulty subconscious beliefs that we’ve absorbed from other people growing up.
Powerful conversations have been shown to be instrumental in rewiring your brain and thinking. They literally build in new neural pathways. So be selective with who you interact with.
#2 Get Fit And Grounded
It’s well researched that physical fitness and wellbeing have a direct impact on the strength and flexibility of your mind. Exercise gets those valuable endorphins kicking in, lifting your mood and in turn making you feel more positive and self-confident. Things like going to the gym, exercising outside in nature, swimming, yoga, tai chi are all great ways to get you out of over-thinking and analysis paralysis. They ground your energy and stop you from getting stuck in your head. Find something you genuinely enjoy and do it regularly. It’s important that you find a style that works for you so that you stick with it. Rhythms are good for your brain. They also make you feel grounded and secure on a deep level. Committing to regular fitness and spiritual practices changes your life in amazing ways. Particularly if you’re feeling anxious, depressed or insecure. They are game-changers. Clear thinking and optimism become your new norm when you’re active and fit.
#3 Listen To Your Intuition
How many times have you found that the little voice deep inside of you that said “No”, but you went ahead and did it anyway, was RIGHT? Just about everyone can relate to this. It’s time to view your intuition as a valuable data source that you need to stop and listen to. When you’re grounded and feeling strongly connected with your centre, your intuition or gut feel on things becomes much clearer. And when you learn how to respond to what it is telling you, your inner certainty around decision making and life increases.
#4 Take Responsibility For Charting Your Own Course In Life
When you take full ownership for your life and the choices you’ve made to date it’s one of the most empowering and freeing things you’ll ever do. It promotes high-end self acceptance. And it’s from this stance that you can re-ignite your self-confidence and self-belief. It’s about accepting that you’re not perfect, and nor is anyone else. Committing to learning from failures and setbacks and doing things differently next time. When you’re not constantly judging and criticising yourself, beating yourself up on the inside, your wellbeing thrives. You’re more relaxed and open to try new things. And that’s when life opens up new possibilities that you couldn’t have even imaged when you were stuck in negative thinking loops. You also start to have more fun.
#5 Know Your Big Why
This is one of the most effective techniques for being able to do sustainable endurance. Which is what in reality is required for going for something that really matters to you. Being really clear on WHY you’re doing something is what keeps you motivated and optimistic, even when just about everything seems to be going wrong, or just not happening when you want it to. Nature has seasons and cycles and we’re part of the same ecological system. It’s learning to recognize where you’re at in these different cycles. Sometimes you’re required to just focus on preparing the soil, doing the necessary ground work. Not always exciting, right. Then when the soil is rich and full of nutrients, putting in the seeds. Then you have to wait. There’s a PAUSE. It’s the incubation phase where it looks like absolutely nothing is happening, but that’s not the case at all. And sometimes the crop fails so you learn from this and do things differently next time. That’s just life. But when you know your big why, you just keep going, fine-tuning and course correcting where necessary.
People with the most resilience and mental agility are the ones that get the best outcomes and results, again and again. Particularly when it comes to leadership and business. Some people view this as “luck”. It’s not as simple or random as that. It’s about consistently committing to up-levelling your thoughts and your daily self care. Being aware of what choices you’re making every single day. When you become more mindful of what you think and how you do life, you start to enjoy optimum levels of thinking, mental health and wellbeing. Qualities that are becoming increasingly essential for thriving and succeeding in a world of over-stimulation, uncertainty and where more and more people are feeling less-than and insecure.
The key to surviving the times of our lives is being able to learn from life’s valuable lessons. Whether it’s having to deal with life-changing events, being plunged into a dark night of the soul, or riding through those stages in life where everyone else seems to have it all together and you’re left wondering why you feel like you’ve hit an invisible brick wall. Your sense of purpose, direction and exuberance for life missing, nowhere to be seen.
These times can be painful and confusing if you don’t know how to move through them with self-awareness.
How Amber Found A New Lease On Life By Looking Inward, Not Outward
[A Case Study]
Amber* (not her real name) had a great job and was married with one child. On the outside everything looked good. She had ticked off just about every goal she’d set for herself. In her 20s she travelled the world and in her 30s met her husband and focused on building an impressive career. Amber loved being a Mum. Yet as she started to approach her late 40s, she started to feel empty inside and lonely in her marriage. Having achieved most of the things she had wanted in life, she couldn’t work out why she felt so flat. Things that used to excite and inspire her had lost their appeal. She felt directionless and nothing ever seemed to be enough.
Amber had become so fused with her negative, lacklustre feelings she couldn’t see a way forward. It felt like these feelings would last for her entire life. When you’re feeling flat, anxious or depressed your brain starts to normalise things after a while. It becomes your reality. You get stuck in a closed thinking loop.
You can’t solve a problem from your current level of awareness. You need to get fresh insights and guidance.
The Turning Point
What brought things to a head for Amber was the big gap left in her social life when some of her closest friends moved overseas. Making her more aware of how down and empty she felt. Things started to change when Amber realised she couldn’t sort this out on her own and came to see me to get some insights into what was going on and some practical strategies to fix it.
It was time for Amber to develop a more intimate relationship with herself rather than relying on excitement and other people in order to experience vitality and aliveness. Being constantly busy turned out to be a subconscious strategy for not having to deal with painful issues from her past. Always having friends around had helped fill an inner void.
When it comes to our personal growth, at certain times in our lives we get presented with opportunities to become more self-aware. Amber chose to learn from her pain rather than have to deal with these issues further down the track. She finally understood what was making her feel unhappy and unfulfilled regardless of what she did or achieved. It was about learning to become more comfortable and relaxed inside herself by focusing inward instead of always looking outward. This included committing to self-nurturing routines. Prioritising emotional nourishment rather than constantly looking for external stimulation and distractions.
If you’ve hit a crisis point or don’t know why you’re feeling empty, hopeless or powerless inside, it’s actually an important turning point if you decide to learn from it. But when you don’t, the lessons and patterns keep turning up until you do. You’ll just keep repeating the same old patterns that everyone else can see, except you.
5 Steps To Surviving The Painful Times Of Our Lives
- Acknowledge you need help and support. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness. Don’t isolate yourself.
- Talk to someone to get new insights into what you’re going through and practical steps to deal with it.
- Accept the choices you’ve made to date. Owning your choices will re-empower you.
- Learn how to connect with your centre and be able to just sit with yourself and where you’re at in non-judgement and self-empathy.
- Establish regular daily and weekly routines that nourish and support you physically, emotionally and spiritually.
We all have to deal with different stages in life. For some, the best time in life is in high school. For late bloomers, it’s breaking out of high school, academia, and stereotypes we are supposed to live up to that life really begins. Life is a series of cycles that sometimes involve unexpected twists and turns. No one escapes this. It’s part of being human. It’s about staying focused on the unique journey that you’re on and choosing to learn from life’s valuable lessons along the way. That’s what makes you stronger, wiser and more enriched inside.
* All identifying features have been removed from this case study.
Let’s face it, inner conflict is exhausting. It’s a total mojo and creativity killer. It stops you from being in the present. You can’t draw on all of you and your inner resources. Because you’re so busy having an internal tug of war. See-sawing between longings, dreams and desires and the parts of you that are heavily invested in remaining skeptical, stubborn and fixed on how things should be. Aka your inner killjoy.
Inner conflict most often boils down to a classic battle between your heart and mind.
Getting stuck in inner conflict is like driving a car with 3 flat tyres. It slows you down and everything takes more effort and energy. It impacts just about every area of your life. And the longer you stay stuck in this zone, the more it starts to drive you crazy.
When you’ve got two or more very distinct warring factions inside, you need to pull out some clever, creative moves to break the impasse. Otherwise it can just go on and on, wasting you precious time and energy, eroding your sanity! Some people literally waste years at a time paralyzed and stuck in inner conflict. If you can relate, then you know how awful and upsetting this can be. You know you’re stuck, but you just can’t see the way out and forward.
Often inner conflict comes from subconsciously, or consciously, buying into someone else’s dreams, judgments or value system. Usually parents or someone else from your tribe. Sometimes it’s peers or the people you’re spending the most time with.
This gets played out in a whole range of different areas in life. One of the most common is in career choice. So many times I’ve seen people who are miserable deep down inside because they’ve dutifully taken on degrees, jobs and career paths to ultimately gain approval and recognition from the outside. Eventually these decisions come back to bite. They eventually start to wonder why they’re not happy or personally fulfilled. It’s as if they’ve been living someone else’s life and dreams. False. Self. Syndrome.
The false self never brings lasting fulfilment. It leaves you feeling uncertain, empty and flimsy inside.
So what’s the antidote to inner conflict?
Image Art Journals
C G Jung believed that the Self has an innate drive to evolve and self-actualize. As a psychotherapist and coach, I’ve found this to be absolutely true. Your authentic, innate self wins out in the end when it comes to loosening the grip of inner conflict so you don’t become permanently stuck and pot-bound. The constant pressure and dissatisfaction you’re feeling inside eventually builds up to a point where it finally becomes unbearable. You just can’t stand the status quo stalemate anymore. You know you have to break free and take a risk and follow your passions and dreams. But not after having gone through a lot of inner conflict and emotional pain. Often your body will push things to a head. You start to have physical symptoms or an accident occurs out of the blue where you’re forced to slow down, take time out, nourish and intimately tune into your true self. Finally the noise and distractions have been turned down and you start to listen to and act on what your real self has been trying to tell you.
The best way forward is first going inwards, doing the inner journey, in order to find pathways and activities that enliven you. Creating the space to do this. Then committing to follow through. To follow your bliss.
So often the pathway or decision that’s ultimately the right one for you is NOT the one that’s coming from your rational mind. It’s tuning into what your intuition and heart have been trying to tell you.
It’s also about accessing and owning your own power. Not projecting it onto someone else, inadvertently opting for powerlessness and passive victim roles. To access your own power and the amazing resources inside of you, it’s vital that you accept your vulnerabilities. This ironically makes you stronger inside. To do this often requires visiting the underworld to find out out what fears and unmet needs are driving your choices, and which parts of you are overly attached to these.
Doing the inner journey makes you more self-aware.
But it’s more than just doing the inner journey.
What you ultimately need to do is have a round table discussion with the different selves inside of you whenever you’re feeling pulled by inner conflict. You need to develop the capacity to observe who in you wants what and why.
Then it’s about taking action because it’s only through doing and trying out different things that you get to really find out what’s going to bring you the most satisfaction and joy. It’s rarely a smooth linear process. It can be confusing and convoluted. But it’s always worth it. Being proactive and taking risks is the antidote to living a life full of regrets over what you never dared to pursue.
If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living, is the one you’re living. And when you can see it, you begin to deal with people who are in the field of your bliss. And they open doors to you. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.
Janelle Legge is a Psychotherapist, Leadership, Mindfulness and Wellbeing Consultant and Coach who specialises in Relationships, Career Success, Life-Work Integration and Wellbeing. Janelle sees clients in person in Sydney and works with clients around the world via Skype. To book a skype session with Janelle click here.