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Posts tagged ‘brain’

Running Your Life on Emotion Alone is a Slippery Slope

Sliding Down the Slippery Slope

We’re all guilty, at one time or another of allowing ourselves to make an important decision or choice emotionally, without engaging the logical part of our being. Often, we live to regret decisions made from our gut without at least a modicum of input from our brain. Marketers know this and play to our illogical, feeling side all the time as does anyone else who want to control the choices we make.

They encourage us to disengage our brains by setting off emotional land mines between our feelings and the logical, rational part of ourselves which would ask difficult questions if allowed to intervene. What frightens me is not only are we being encouraged to feel instead of think, but the message is being pumped into us from every direction in a constant bombardment of—let me call it what it is—propaganda.

Infomercials Thrive on Emotional Decisions

How many infomercials use tactics which hit us below the surface of our logic? Take the ones for a well-known pillow manufacturer. The guy wears his shirt buttoned to his chin, the cross necklace conspicuous in the seemingly haphazard way it sticks out above the top button instead of hanging loosely over the collar, or as would be more likely, underneath. The commercials are studded with American flags and a not-so-subtle message to “make America great again” by buying things that are made “right here in the United States”. Boo-rah!

Every one of these visual and auditory components is an emotional trigger encouraging people to pick up their phone or log onto the website and buy the darn things right now. There’s even a code which most people don’t realize is used to track which of the company’s many advertising media sucked the customer in.

Out of curiosity, I logged into the site (without the code) one night just to see what the hype (and expensive TV spots) was all about. At the time, their “buy one, get one free” offer (yet another emotional trigger) was over 80 dollars. It’s now “only” $79.98. Even so, how many of us spend $40 apiece on pillows? I don’t even want to know what they charge for the rest of the product line that’s evolved from the first spate of infomercials that invaded my television time.

Triggering Our Emotions for Profit

My point is, enough people are getting sucked in by these tactics to keep the guy showing up on TV not only in between shows we choose to watch, but on 30-minute, stand-alone infomercials as well. Clearly, playing on people’s emotions to generate sales is a lucrative proposition, especially in today’s environment. I suspect companies like this are counting on people being on a constant emotional high to sell them crap they don’t need now, and would have never considered buying had the thinking part of their brain been engaged.

As for me, I sleep perfectly well on my $5 Big One pillows I got at Kohl’s during one of their “biggest sales of the season”. Were they made in America? Probably not. But when so many people can’t even afford to rent an apartment or keep healthy food on the table, I, for one make no apologies. There are enough monkey wrenches being thrown into trading freely between countries these days as it is.

Step Back, Take a Breath, Engage Your Brain

However, I didn’t intend this post to turn into a rant, but merely a cautionary tale about preventing our  emotions from getting us into hot water. I take advice I was given long ago very seriously with regard to flaming emails from bosses and co-workers. Do not respond right away. Take the time to step back, cool off, and address the matter from a rational place. The decisions and choices we make are no different.

Would you buy a car without taking the time to research your options, check pricing at different dealers, and maybe even see what the average purchase price has been using Edmund’s or KBB? Would you buy a house without looking at comps and assessing your options? Other choices might not have the same impact on you financially, but they deserve equal consideration.

A Time to Think Clearly and a Time to Go With Your Gut

Don’t get me wrong. There are certainly times when trusting your gut is appropriate. If we spent the same amount of time deciding on dinner as we do buying a car, we’d starve. There’s certainly a place for gut decisions. Just understand if you make some of the biggies from the gut instead of the brain, there may be a lot of backpedaling, adjusting, and perhaps even damage control to manage after the decision has been made and the wheels put in motion.

Such was the case with my decision to quit my day job to do a complete career change without adequate things in place to maintain my lifestyle and solvency while I put the new path in place. I’ve taken more steps back than forward in some areas, and taken a beating for leaping without looking first.

Still and all, I wouldn’t go back and change the fact I made the choice when I did. I might have gotten my act together a little sooner. Then again, perhaps the lessons I’ve learned in continuing to follow a dream that isn’t as easy to reach as I’d hoped are worth the struggle, the worry, and the people who’ve come into my life as a result.

Diving in Before We Have All the Answers

The biggest and best of those lessons is accepting I don’t have all the answers, nor do I have the resources or the time to get the answers I need if I isolate myself. Life is a series of hills and valleys, give and take. What I’ve learned by connecting with people who struggle with some of the same things I do, or who’ve overcome some of those things would never have happened if I’d jumped easily from one career to the other.

I’ve also learned working from home, despite the scarce times, is far better for me. Too often, I was manipulated by people who saw someone who was, in many ways naive to the ways of the world when it came to climbing the corporate ladder. I was often someone else’s stepping stone, offering too much because I expected them to be as open and honest as me.

I wouldn’t change that either. I simply learned I’m a sitting duck in the corporate cesspool, and needed to learn to be successful as an entrepreneur. My emotions are too easily engaged, causing me to make a lot of poor choices, or put up with things I shouldn’t have to. Sometimes, the key to making decisions with the right part of our anatomy is knowing when and how we function best.

These days, I have the luxury of time when it comes to making decisions. That isn’t to say I haven’t tripped up a few times anyway. It means I trip up less spectacularly, and spend less time doing damage control. I have certainly given up a lot of things I had when there was a steady paycheck, but I’ve given up the stress, misery, and abuse that went with it. I’d make the same choice again in a heartbeat.

Grateful for Every Minute, Every Breath

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the time and wherewithal to make conscious choices.
  2. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned since I left the corporate rat race.
  3. I am grateful for learning to live more minimally.
  4. I am grateful for the little things, like cooler weather and lower power bills.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, epiphanies, inspiration, motivation, butt kicks, helping hands, opportunities to help others, comedy instead of drama, prolific writing, productive days, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward.

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When Your Subconscious Speaks, Listen!

What’s Changed?

How often have you noticed the impact a seemingly small change makes in your life? It could be something you changed consciously, unconsciously, or by random happenstance. Yet the results are the same. Once the change occurs, things are never quite the same.

Recently, I began experiencing something I never had before, and even now, would be happier to have never gone through it. I started having panic attacks over things I’d been doing for years without incident. The first time I really noticed it was when I was washing my hair and got suds in my ear. My reaction to the impact of a temporary hearing impairment was so distorted and out of character, it only served to make me panic even more. Ultimately, with the soap cleared from my ear and my eyes open, I began to calm down. Yet why was I suddenly experiencing this heretofore unknown feeling? What had changed?

I looked at my world and tried to locate the inciting moment. Yes, there had been a lot of turmoil in recent weeks between plumbing issues, visits with my kids, concerns over getting my business running at the level I wanted and, let’s face it, needed. But nothing new seemed to have arisen.

The Crutches We Adopt

Suddenly, I glanced at my right wrist which had been empty for a week or so. Could it be? Was it something so simple?

Several months ago, my daughter and I had bought negative ion bracelets at a fair. I’d been wearing mine non-stop until just recently when I burned my wrist and the bracelet was rubbing against the burn. I removed it to allow the burn to heal.

When I’d purchased the bracelet, the draw was an improvement in my balance, and it seemed like it was working until I removed it and saw no difference. So I hadn’t been in any hurry to put it back on.

But there’s more than one kind of balance in our lives. Apparently, in me, the bracelet had more impact on my internal balance than I’d realized. Without it, my anxiety levels rose at the subconscious level so they went unnoticed for a while. But the incident in the shower made me take notice and start looking more closely at how I was handling those minor setbacks and concerns since removing the bracelet, and I didn’t like what I saw.

Needless to say, the bracelet went back on my wrist right away. Thankfully, the burn had healed by then with a little help from some aloe vera gel and neosporin.

Some might see this as a crutch, and it certainly is to some degree. Yet the need for it wasn’t planted in my brain. Instead, it appeared all by itself.

Navigating the Environmental Minefield

We are all impacted by our environment in one way or another, and we all develop ways to cope with those influences. Whether you’re impacted by the phases of the moon, the electronics in your home and office, the moods and emotions of the people around you, or something else entirely, you’ve found ways to manage them whether you realize it or not. We all have times when even our copying mechanisms fail us. We overreact to things that wouldn’t normally phase us. We avoid a situation entirely because it is suddenly physically, emotionally, or mentally painful. In extreme situations, we shut down and barricade ourselves behind our walls.

However we manifest those failures, and whatever sets us off, it’s part of what makes us human. We are diamonds-in-the-rough, learning as we go. We stumble and, hopefully, pick ourselves up and try again. Sometimes we even reinvent ourselves. In my case, I’ve spent nearly 4 years doing just that, and am still trying to find the right formula. But each wrong turn, each backtrack brings me closer to the person I want and need to be.

Using the Bumps in Our Road to Reassess

Some of those backtracks guide me in my search for a coach and mentor who will help me get past my own blocks and fears. In the process of searching, I’m learning to recognize what I’m doing that’s getting in my own way. I may not know how to fix it when I recognize it, but at least I can see it’s there.

When I started feeling annoyed instead of happy for people who were succeeding either as a writer or VA, I knew there was an underlying issue I needed to address. Part of it was envy, but the real issue was the underlying reason for that envy.

What came to me wasn’t very pretty, nor was it easy to admit. I felt like a failure. While others were finding success in both of my chosen fields, I was still floundering. So I started doing what I usually do when trying to sort out a problem. I made lists of why I was failing:

  • I wasn’t clear on what I wanted to be and do
  • I wasn’t putting in consistent effort to be whatever it was I wanted to be
  • I was letting myself be lazy
  • I was allowing myself to procrastinate
  • I wasn’t putting time into letting people get to know and trust me
  • I was hardly writing anything except my morning pages
  • I’d let my eating habits crash and burn
  • I wasn’t keeping up with my workout routine any more.
Making Sense of it All

When I put it all together, I realized I wasn’t feeling very good about myself, overall. No wonder something as simple as taking off a bracelet sent me into a downward spiral!

My point in sharing all this is two-fold. First, as has been the case for most of my life, writing something down helps me work through it and find the underlying problem. From there, I can begin to search for a solution. Second, I want to share how important it is to look at what’s showing on the surface and dig deeper to find the real symptoms and causes which brought things to the surface in the first place.

The human brain is both complex and amazing. If the popular myth is to be believed, we only use about 10% of our brain. However, neuroscientists disagree, as evidenced by an article published by Eric H. Chudler, PhD. on his website, Neuroscience for Kids. That isn’t to say all of the neurons in our brains are firing every minute of every day. But throughout our day-to-day life, every part of our brain is engaged at some point or another. Dr. Chudler isn’t alone in his viewpoint and cites several other articles which corroborate his belief. Frankly, it makes a lot more sense to me than the 10% theory.

Tapping into our subconscious is one of the ways we utilize the other 90%, and I’d imagine not everyone listens to theirs given the number of people who claim no memory of their dreams. (I can’t even imagine waking in the morning with no memory of my nocturnal travels!)

So my path is set and my journey continues. You may have noticed a sudden increase in the frequency of my posts of late. That, my friends, is the tip of my iceberg. Stay tuned for more.

Gratitude Makes My Day

I’ve found it’s hard to be completely down if I remember the blessings in my life. I remind myself when I go to sleep at night, whenever something happens to make life easier, and of course, right here. Do you have a daily gratitude practice?

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the gift of writing I was given. It has helped me in immeasurable ways even as it frustrates me.
  2. I am grateful that I can look at myself reasonably objectively and see where I still need work.
  3. I am grateful for dreams that tell me I’m heading in the right direction even if it doesn’t seem like it right now.
  4. I am grateful for the influence and example of friends and new acquaintances. There are some truly amazing people out there with traits I’d do well to emulate.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; opportunities, motivation, inspiration, gifts, love, friendship, joy, innovation, reinvention, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

The Facebook Live associated with this post can be found here.

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. She believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information.

Why We Fear Success

Our Hard-wired Brains

The mind is a very delicate piece of machinery. The slightest alteration in frequency can throw some of us into a tizzy of anxiety-related symptoms; quivery stomach, a tight band around our skull, the urge to run away and hide under our covers. Regardless of our personal reactions, the result, if we heed it, can be the same: permanent residence in the comfort zone.

For some people, that’s all well and fine, but staying in the comfort zone is staying in one place, never evolving, never learning, never becoming what we were meant to be. And all because our brains are resistant to change.

We Fear Success Specifically

Success can be an especially frightening challenge for our poor, change-resistant brains because achieving success, whether it’s by improving our health habits, advancing our career, or initiating world peace comes only by taking giant leaps out of our comfort zone. None of this dipping our toe in the water and leaping back if it’s even a degree too cold. To be successful, we must step out of our comfort zone not once, but over and over again. The closer we get to succeeding, the further we venture from our comfort zone. In fact, people who enjoy the most success in their lives have, at some point, left their comfort zone far behind. It only serves to put limits on what can be achieved.

Those initial steps outside the familiar, the safe are the scariest of all. Not only are we leaving behind what we know works for us, but in doing so, we’re creating whole new paths. Even more, we’re creating whole new techniques! In short, we’re leaving our minds nothing familiar to grab onto when the roller coaster ride begins. While our hearts are shouting Hooeee! What a ride! More! More! our minds our scrunching themselves into a tight ball of pure terror, shrieking Make it stop! Oh, please, make it stop!

But our minds are much stronger than they realize. Over time, they’ve adapted to all the changes inherent in simply growing from infancy to adulthood. They don’t always like where we take them, or even the road conditions, but eventually, they rise to the occasion and support our new endeavors.

Overcoming the Fear Mentality

There are many ways to overcome our innate fears. Some favor the “all in” approach which is much like taking a flying leap into a pool, determined to get used to the water or else. It’s fast and effective, though sometimes overly traumatic.

Others favor the toe-dipping approach you see people use when venturing into the ocean at the beginning of the summer. They take a step forward, ready to leap back if the water is too cold. If it’s cold but bearable, they may venture in up to the ankles, and so on until they’re fully immersed. This process can take forever, or not happen at all depending on how much discomfort the person and their brain can handle.

What I’ve found most effective (though Type A’s will surely disagree) is a combination of the two. First, I tell myself what I’m going to experience will be entertaining and perhaps educational. I tune out any arguments, making it clear I’m in charge. Then I take a step forward. I may take one more, but most important here is to change my set point.

Raising the Bar

Changing our set point, be it mentally, physically, or emotionally is essentially a re-set of our goals. We congratulate ourselves on the progress we’ve made, and set another challenging but achievable goal. Using weight loss as an example, our bodies become used to being at a certain weight, healthy or not. In order to make a permanent change, we have to see ourselves weighing less. Not all the way to our goal, especially those of us who have more than 5 or 10 pounds to lose! That’s a sure path to discouragement, not to mention gaining back what we’ve lost.

I set my own goals in 10 pound increments, but allow 5 pound mini goals too. A week or so ago, my scale showed a rather unlikely drop, but seemed to stay consistent no matter how many times I got on and off of it. Instead of being excited about getting closer to my goal, I panicked. In that panic, I ended up erasing the progress I’d made since I’d reached my latest 10 pound goal; not by much, but enough to make me see what had happened.

My brain had taken over. It whispered How are you going to handle being thinner? Won’t all the attention you’d get be scary? Instead of ignoring that fearful voice, I succumbed, eating badly and not moving enough for a few days. (I eventually discovered a small, star-shaped piece of wax had found its way beneath the scale, causing it to register incorrectly, but by then, the damage was done). I started turning things around a bit yesterday, and today, while writing my morning pages, I saw it for what it was. Fear. Plain and simple. My brain was reacting to the positive feedback I’d been receiving. It didn’t like the fact that I was putting on makeup and fixing my hair to do Facebook Lives. Too many things were changing and it was being forced to swim as the waters deepened.

Growing Stronger With Every Leap

Just as the body grows stronger when we push it to do more, the brain does too. When we refuse to succumb to the voice of fear, it becomes easier to do things we’d never done before. The idea of adventure far outweighs the fear of failure, or more importantly, success. I don’t think the brain really fears failure in the overall scheme of things anyway. Failure means it gets to maintain the status quo. Success is a much bigger threat, at least until we re-train our brains to see the wonder and beauty those successes bring into our lives.

I won’t say it’s something we ever get away from. There will always be times our brain wants to retreat. The key is recognizing when it’s happening and pushing forward anyway. Moving our set points further out. Challenging ourselves to fight for the dream, even when the one we’re fighting is ourselves.

Here’s to Your Continued Success

I hope if you’re struggling that you’ll seek out that frightened child within yourself. Take charge of your life instead of letting fear of change keep you from achieving your dreams. Overall, change is what makes life interesting. Whether we like it or not everything around us is changing all the time anyway. So why not become part of the changing landscape?

Gratitude: A Powerful Motivator

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the epiphanies which help me overcome roadblocks of self-doubt.
  2. I am grateful for the people who are constantly moving in and out of my life to teach me about myself and the world around me.
  3. I am grateful for endless possibilities.
  4. I am grateful four the strength and courage I’m developing as I overcome each new obstacle to my success.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: success, joy, love, friendship, adventure, possibilities, inspiration, motivation, creativity, courage, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

 

Photo courtesy of Affen Ajlfe

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