We’ve all been there.
You are trying to convince yourself to do that dreaded thing you have been putting off for the last two days, or weeks, or the last several months.
Whatever the reason, you find yourself fighting your own brain. Most of us end up losing that battle and resort to distracting ourselves with activities that take our minds away from what we really should be focusing on.
The problem is not the task itself, but how you interpret the information that you associate with the task.
Your brain is a processor. It is always processing sensory information, ideas, and emotions. Your brain then provides you with recommendations about what to do with all that information.
We call these thoughts.
These thoughts can be helpful, but sometimes depending on the information they are based on and the beliefs which help structure them, they can prevent us from doing what we need to do.
Here are three great tips to help train your mind to help you do those hard things that you have been avoiding.
Tip #1: Realize that your thoughts do not dictate who you are. You are NOT your thoughts.
That’s right, you are in charge of your brain, not the other way around. Your thoughts are just suggestions from your mind to help push you in the right direction. If your thoughts are nudging you in a less helpful direction, then we need to learn how to change that.
Thank your brain for providing the suggestion to check your Facebook feed for the fifth time in the last hour.
I mean this literally. Tell your brain (not out loud if anyone else is in the room) that you are grateful for the suggestion but that you have this other task that needs to be done.
You are going to feel silly when you start doing this. But over time, repeating this exercise will help you and your brain to work more cooperatively with each other.
Tip #2: Change your beliefs surrounding the task.
The way we perceive the things around us is determined by our belief systems. When we are avoiding a task, we may believe that it will be unpleasant, and we perceive that unpleasantness as discomfort. The thing is, we can apply whatever meaning we want to the task. We just so happen to be more prone to providing a negative association.
Again, we must change how we allow this suggestion from our brain to influence our behavior and actions.
We can tell our brains that this feeling of discomfort is a sign that we’re right on target to do what we have to do. The accomplishment of finally completing our task will be far more pleasant than the dread of postponing it.
The more you practice this, the more likely your perception and behavior will change over time.
Tip #3: Expose Yourself to Uncomfortable Situations
Expanding slightly on what we just discussed, it is usually the fear of discomfort that keeps us from being as accomplished as we want to be. The best thing to do in this case is to train yourself to be a little more comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Exposure therapy will teach you that even though you are feeling discomfort, exposure to an uncomfortable situation is usually not going to harm you. Use good judgment and personal discretion towards that latter suggestion.
Pick ONE thing that makes you uncomfortable and spend a little time each day dealing with it. Small incremental exposure is the key here. Just like slowly lowering yourself into cold water, you will eventually acclimate to it and realize that it is not so bad after all.
Willpower is the ability to act despite what your mind is telling you, and to do things you don’t want to do.
You can choose to interpret and perceive discomfort in any way you choose. Push through the resistance a little bit at a time.
Keep at it and DO THE THING!
Inspired by an article originally published by Medium.com
Edblad, P. (2019, October 21). This is How to Do Things You Don’t Want to Do. Retrieved December 14, 2020, from https://medium.com/better-humans/this-is-how-to-do-things-you-dont-want-to-do-cf3fa94c302f
GoodTherapy Editor Team. “Exposure Therapy.” Good Therapy, 7 Mar. 2015, www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/exposure-therapy.
Psychology Today. “What Actually Is a Belief? And Why Is It So Hard to Change?” Psychologytoday.Com, 7 Oct. 2018, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/finding-purpose/201810/what-actually-is-belief-and-why-is-it-so-hard-change.