I’m learning about the brain. I’m studying neuroscience as part of my NLP practitioner training and one of the most reassuring and exciting things that I have learnt is that we humans are designed for novelty. We are designed to seek out new experiences so that our brain ‘keeps going’, and in turn it keeps us motivated and in a positive state of mind. If we are not feeding our brain new experiences, then it has already begun to decline.
So, does this mean you need to plan your first bungee jump or set a date for your first free climb just to stay alive? Nope, not at all.
The problem with ‘new experiences’ is that they can often be associated with an element of risk. As much as our brain seeks out new experiences, it also wants to protect us; my recent first-hand experience of this is when we went climbing as a family just a few weekends ago. Off I shot up a technicoloured climbing wall, only to realise that I couldn’t get down. I froze, sweaty palmed, without a clue on how to get down. Fear overtook my whole body and with the eyes of my husband and my 4-year-old staring up at me, it took me about 20 minutes to carefully peel myself down the technicolour…but I did it. I’m not sure I overcame the fear that kicked in but I paused, and coached myself into managing the fear. (my enthusiasm for novelty waned for a moment!)
Over the years, there have been many experiences I have wanted to pursue but have felt fear the about, I’m sure you can relate to some;
· You want a promotion but feel too fearful to apply for the next step
· You want to start a family but feel too fearful about what will happen to your career
· You have an idea for a business but you're fearful you will fail
· You feel ready to return to work but fearful that makes you less of a good mum
· You're underpaid but too fearful to ask for a promotion
Each of the above happened to me, so how did I move through these fears?
I focused on the novelty of them, focused on the ‘new’ aspect, focused on the experience, focused on the success that was waiting for me if I was prepared to push my boundaries:
· I got the promotion
· I had a family
· I built a successful business
· I’m a great mum
· I got the pay rise
You might not want to hang out with me at the top of a climbing wall but tell me what your fears and ask yourself how will confronting them result in a happy, experience-filled life (and brain)
Love and paws,