We put a lot of stock in our brains. It’s held up as THE mastermind of our entire being. It’s the smart organ, the place where all our facts, learning, and knowledge are stored.
But there are some MAJOR gaps in our brain – particularly related to fear.
Take my experience of becoming an entrepreneur….
There were times when I was thinking about quitting my job to launch a business that I felt like the air was being sucked out of me. Like someone had tied a corset around my lungs and pulled the strings tight. My heart would beat fast, I’d get a pit in my stomach, and sometimes I’d even get nauseous.
My brain screamed, “STOP! I don’t know anything about this entrepreneurship thing. Don’t even think about going there!”
My brain interpreted this new venture as a threat. Like the possibility of running my own business was trying to kill me.
BUT NOTHING WAS ACTUALLY WRONG. I was completely safe.
And this is why our brains are dumb.
Our brains are designed to have a reaction to anything new and different. Because, in our brain wiring, the unknown isn’t safe. It’s uncharted territory that could kill us (literally).
This worked great when we were living outside being chased by animals. And it still works great when our actual, physical safety is at risk.
But most of the time our brain’s reaction to fear only serves to keep us small. To keep us safely planted in the circle of everything that is familiar and comfortable.
The problem is there’s a long list of amazing experiences that only exist outside the circle of familiarity. Starting a business. Going to a different country for the first time. Saying I love you. Sharing your writing. Singing in public. Doing anything on a stage. Getting a new job.
Pretty much anything that involves growing, learning, risk, and following our dreams is outside of the circle that our brains fervently try to keep us locked inside.
The good news is that once we do the scary thing our brains start to realize that we DIDN’T DIE – and maybe it would be okay to do it again. So our fight or flight reaction cools down a bit the next time around. It gets a little easier to take action.
One thing that has helped me overcome my brain is to simply ask myself,”Am I safe right now?”
99% of the time the answer is yes. Sure, I might be afraid of making a mistake or embarrassing myself, but that’s not going to kill me. So my brain can just back off.
Try it the next time your heart beats faster and your palms start to sweat. Stop, take a breath, and ask yourself, “Am I safe right now?” If the answer is yes, choose to override your brain, take another deep breath, and start moving forward.
Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with women to master doubt and imposter syndrome and own their brilliance. Learn more about her coaching services here.