Your brain. It is a gift to you from God. With it, you can create the life you want. With it, you can learn anything. With it, you can solve seemingly impossible problems. But it doesn’t just happen.
Your unsupervised brain will tend to go into one of two modes:
Caveman mode: avoiding pain, seeking pleasure, and using as little energy as possible.
Toddler mode: choosing what it wants NOW at the cost of what it really wants long-term.
While we no longer live in caves, the modern equivalent would look like anything that is already comfortable, easy, and feels safe. Examples of modern “caves” include your home, couch, screens/devices, bedroom, but also your habits, attitudes, skills, friend groups, etc.
Why would you ever want to leave your cave? Because you are a child of God. You are made of the stuff of Eternity. And, within you is infinite potential which cannot be satisfied by sitting on the couch binge-watching Netflix.
To leave, or even expand, your cave, you will need to set and pursue goals using your pre-frontal cortex. This is the part of your brain that is responsible and is committed to your long-term good.
Any goal worth your time, effort and energy is going to require you to stretch and grow. Remember our Caveman? He wants to avoid pain and danger, seek pleasure, and use as little energy as possible. Stretching and growing usually involve discomfort in the form of doubt, fear, embarrassment, loneliness, failure, etc. Your brain interprets this discomfort as pain and DANGER!! It LITERALLY thinks you might DIE! It also knows that learning new things requires more energy than sticking with what is familiar. Because of this, your brain is going to RESIST goal setting, and goal pursuit.
It’s ok. Your brain thinks it’s protecting you.
But, doubt, fear, embarrassment, loneliness, failure, etc. are simply emotions. They are harmless. Think of how the strings on a guitar vibrate to create distinct sounds. Similarly, our thoughts create emotions that vibrate, distinctly, through our bodies. Each emotion is like an individual musical chord, vibrating in our bodies. This earthly experience is supposed to include ALL emotions, positive and negative!
So, when your brain screams at you to run back to the cave where it is safe and familiar, let your pre-frontal cortex take charge. Simply assure your primitive brain that feeling embarrassment, loneliness, failure, etc. IS NOT LIFE-THREATENING. It’s just a vibration. It’s harmless. Tell your primitive brain that you are choosing to exert more energy on purpose, in order to pursue something worthwhile.
Too often we interpret the discomfort of growth, and the additional energy exerted as evidence that we have made a mistake, and that we should stop pursuing our goal. The truth is that it is actually evidence that we are on the right track, and doing what is necessary to reach our goals. So, embrace that discomfort of growth! It is the price of your dreams.
Imagine your life if you were willing to feel ANY emotion! What dream would you be willing to pursue? What difficult thing would you be willing to learn?