Most people make New Year’s resolutions with their primitive Caveman Brains. Our Caveman Brains works in simple black-and-white terms, so when January 1st hits and we put stress on ourselves to make these huge changes. It’s all or nothing — success or failure.
Personal growth doesn’t involve the Caveman Brain. We grow by using the power centers in our Advanced Brain: perception, will, intellect, imagination, creativity and personality. But that doesn’t mean that we can ignore our Caveman Brains. That part of our brain needs to be calmed and soothed, so that we can ultimately have success in our goals and resolutions.
As we move into 2012, make the effort to put the fears of your Caveman brain to rest. Take some time with your resolution and journal, or talk to a friend or just talk it through out loud to yourself when your driving. It’s important, though, to put it into words, not just keep it as thoughts in your head. Your Caveman Brain needs to know that it’s been heard.
Here’s the Caveman Brain work that can help you go into the new year with bang:
- List all the worries you have about your resolution. (For example, worries around a healthy eating resolution might be: I’m worried healthy food will taste yucky. I’m worried I won’t have time to cook meals. I’m scared I’m going to get diabetes. I’m worried I’ll miss my ice cream snacks. I’m worried I’ll fail. I’m scared of success.) Keep going for as long as you can to get everything out
- List all the assumptions you’re making. Include everything you just “know” will happen; this helps us see the black-and-white Caveman Brain thinking. (Example around a financial resolution: I know I can’t make enough money to get us out of debt. I know making more money is the thing that will make me happy. I know that things will never be any different for me. I know I can’t get my spouse to stop spending so much money.)
- List all the rules and expectations you’ve set up for yourself around your resolution. This is all the perfectionism and “shoulds.” (Example around organizing: I should be able to keep my calendar perfectly organized. I should be able to clean my house top-to-bottom every Saturday. I should be able to stay on top of my laundry.)
Your Caveman Brain is going to tell you that you’re wasting time on all this stuff, because you’re not actually putting forth any action toward your resolution. But stick with it. It’s really important to acknowledge what’s going on in your Caveman Brain before shifting to the Advanced Brain. And keep in mind that you have the whole year to work on a New Year’s resolution. It’s not just about what you accomplish in January. Putting in a little extra time now can mean you’ll have more success 2-3 or even 6 months from now.
To learn more about your Caveman Brain, Advanced Brain and Power Centers, check out my Live Life Easy Stress Solution DVD.