Light bulb!! It just became extremely clear to me why I’ve been procrastinating lately…
I’ve been avoiding speaking to one of my brains!
What?! Three brains?
Yes, well, three parts of your one big brain may be more accurate. But they are actually referred to as your three brains.
Basically I’ve been really good at speaking to my mouse and my dolphin…but I’ve been neglecting my Crocodile!
And what’s the result? Procrastination, staying up late, and more pain than I need to be experiencing in getting what I want done.
Let me explain…
It’s been strange to me because I really LOVE creating and writing new trainings…so why the procrastination?
I thought…”well, it’s just my nature to always gravitate toward new, fun ideas.” Last week that meant putting together the new ‘Make Today Amazing’ product site I’m developing for you…just as one example.
I tend to crave creating, new stuff, and variety…
So doing the ‘harder work’ of creating the monthly trainings already planned & lined out tends to get procrastinated…even though when I do it I really love it.
How about you are you procrastinating lately?
Stick with me for a few minutes here because I think this is really going to help…I’ll show you how to win and stop procrastinating.
What are your three brains?
Willie reminded me that I haven’t been speaking to my reptilian brain.
Here’s how it works:
There are 3 main sections of your brain and each one of them responds to different motivations.
So if you’re not speaking to that brain with the messages it is wired to respond to, good luck! You’re not going to get it’s attention.
That’s exactly what has been happening for me and why I’ve been procrastinating.
See…here’s the difference between what each part of our brain needs to hear…and it helps to think of these three parts as a different animal because we relate to them better that way.
We’ve each got a Crocodile brain (reptilian), a mouse brain (paleomammalin), and a dolphin brain (neomammalian).
We need to speak a different language to each, because they are each driven by EXTREMELY different motivations.
Like…polar opposite different.
So what do your 3 brains NEED to hear?
So now you know you’ve got a crocodile, a mouse, and a dolphin all vying for attention up in your head all the time! Well…
What does your pre-frontal cortex ‘dolphin’ brain want?
It wants to know “how will this make a difference?”
It wants love, affection, family, contribution, positive feelings, happiness and achievement!
This is what we tend to focus on with affirmations…so we get really good at speaking to our dolphin brain…which is great!! We need to do that! We need to keep speaking that language and hold our vision of happiness high in our mind.
This gets the conscious creative part of the brain firing on all cylinders and excitedly pulling hard toward our goals, instead of down in the dumps discouraged.
Positive affirmations are extremely valuable and important if we are to ever create any meaningful beauty in the world.
But we’ve got that right?
This has been a huge focus for me, and it’s the obvious answer…we all know positive affirmations are important.
But alone, they are not enough!
OK, how about the mouse brain, what does it want?
The mouse wants the cheese!!
The mouse is motivated by immediate reward. And to the mouse, immediate gratification is the main message it hears…it blows right past all ‘fear of death’ messages!
(I’ll let you conjure up your own picture of the mouse in a trap after he gets his reward)
This part of our brain acts on auto-pilot and will sabotage our dolphin brain’s efforts if it smells some cheese that is not in line with the dolphin’s goals.
Our mouse brain craves rewards to chase after!
So to keep it on track, we cannot let it smell any cheese we don’t want it going after. And we need to strategically place some cheese for our mouse brain in the places we want it to go.
The mouse will run the maze, if it smells the cheese. So get yourself smelling the cheese of your chosen reward and you’ll help yourself toward your goal.
This is where vigilance is required to SHUT DOWN distractions.
In my case, I have to completely remove Facebook, email, phone and every other shiny object distraction temporarily because they become VERY hard to avoid.
If my mouse smells email or Facebook, it will just be eating and eating away as the trap snaps shut and I find that I wasted hours of the day and sabotaged my own goal, and neglected to serve people in a big way.
So to control our mouse, we must shut down all potential distractions at certain times…because we will have the dickens of a time overriding our mouse brain once it smells that cheese.
Only feed your mouse brain immediate gratification that lines up with your goals…then it will drive hard to pull you there and you’ll feel like it’s effortless.
I have fallen victim to the trap of giving my mouse the wrong cheese a lot!
But usually that happens when my crocodile starts a tug-of-war and enlists the mouse in it’s cause…
So What does the Croc brain respond to?
Fear and survival!
If a crocodile doesn’t watch it’s back it’s going to get killed by a leopard.
(crazy that someone caught that on video)
What motivates the Croc to action? Fear of pain & death. The instinctual drive to survive.
If you try to paint a dreamy picture for your croc brain of a loving relationship, making a difference in the world, and fulfilling all its wildest dreams, he’s not going hear a word of it!
All he can think about is watching his back for the impending leopard pounce or finding his next meal so he doesn’t starve.
He’s ONLY focused on staying alive and avoiding pain.
I got trounced by the leopard of lackadaisicalness last week because I failed to feed my croc brain the proper diet of information it could actually hear…
…I didn’t clearly articulate the negative consequences of it’s ‘avoid the pain of work’ behavior.
The only message my croc was hearing was the pain signal of “It’s going to be hard to do that work you want me to do”.
And so ensued the tug-of-war…the croc pulling against doing the work, the dolphin pulling for it.
This is where positive affirmations fail
The area of giving proper info to my croc brain is where I have been neglecting myself recently. And this is what trips up many of us ‘positive thinking optimists’ it turns out.
We get so focused on ‘being positive’, that we completely overlook speaking to our croc brain in the way it needs to be spoken to, which is this:
“Here’s the specific pain that you will experience if you do or DO NOT do that thing!”
In my case, since the ‘pain’ of doing the work of creating new training was the strongest pain my croc brain was hearing…it avoided that pain with all its might!
And guess what?? The crocodile is ALWAYS going to win in a head to head battle with a mouse and a dolphin of course!!
We can’t change the fact that we’ve got three constant forces pulling us to action or inaction in our heads. The key is to get them all pulling the same direction. What happens when we are procrastinating is this:
There’s a tug of war going on!
The dolphin is pulling one way toward the pleasure we seek…the crocodile is pulling the other way avoiding pain.
And the mouse? He’s often pulling with the Croc because the mouse is going to find gratification wherever it can…it sniffs out its cheese amazingly and gets it. (this shows up as emotional eating, emotional face booking, or any other emotional ‘distractioning’ whenever we are avoiding doing what our dolphin brain wants)
Bottom line? In a tug-of-war, the crocodile is going to win every time!
Pain is always a more powerful motivator than pleasure.
The only way we finally get our goal is that the croc brain finally wakes up to the MUCH greater pain we had been avoiding feeding it.
The key to ending procrastination then is this: Coax the crocodile by feeding it the proper diet of fear and pain, so that what it’s pushing away from is in the same direction as what mouse and dolphin are pulling toward.
So in my case…the croc brain was avoiding the pain of doing hard work. Even though my dolphin loves writing the training…the pain of making the effort was stronger than the pleasure of the writing reward.
So instead, I need to remind the croc of the greater pain, by helping it visualize the pain of NOT doing the work.
(Lack of sleep, dropping the ball, letting people down, eventually if I continue to procrastinate what will happen? The training will fail, it won’t get done, nobody will be helped)
Eventually that pain becomes a harsh enough reality at the 11th hour to the croc, and it relents and the job gets done.
So the trick is to make the croc brain aware of that pain early on and consistently. Then you’ll get the croc brain pulling in the same direction as the dolphin from the beginning.
Do this by reminding your croc brain of the painful consequences of NOT doing the thing you want.
Yes, you could say this is negative affirmations. Motivating through pain and fear.
Well guess what?
Pain and fear are stronger motivators than pleasure and love.
And your croc brain is only ever motivated by pain and fear, that’s how it’s wired…so it’s going to find some kind of pain to avoid whether you want it to or not.
Here are your options:
1 – You can allow your croc brain to dictate what pain it’s going to avoid (and keep suffering the internal tug-of-war)…OR…
2- You can SET YOUR OWN RULES By showing the croc which the greater pain early, which makes it pull in the direction you want.
The choice is yours and mine! We get to decide!
I teach often about positive affirmations…and I’ll continue because that’s 80% of the game…
…but what you’ll hear more from me on now is when exactly to get clear on the negative side of things and why it’s so important to face up to the reality of negative consequences before they happen.
How to set goals to get all 3 of your brains on board
So here’s what I will do from NOW ON whenever I set a goal:
- Coax the Croc: Write in clear detail what PAIN I will experience if I procrastinate doing it. I will send the messages loud and clear to my croc brain and repeat those daily with visualization…just long enough to make sure it gets the message.
- Manage the Mouse: Write what immediate gratification reward I will get by working on the goal, and which immediate gratifiers I will block out of my life temporarily so I keep my mouse pulling toward my goal.
- Direct the Dolphin: Write what difference this goal will make, who it will impact, how it will impact them for good, so I can visualize and feel the pleasure of achieving the goal.
Here’s my personal example for this current week so you can see this in action:
Goal: Finalize two weeks of 5 Minute Mental Mastery ‘Think’ Training.
1. Coax the Croc:
- If you procrastinate it will stress you out.
- You will lose sleep which is bad for your health, and it’s painful to be tired.
- If you keep doing that you could get sick, or at least you’ll lack energy, and you can’t help anyone if you’re sick and tired.
- You’ll miss the fun on the weekend if you don’t get your job done during the week.
- If you don’t get this training done during the day you’re going to miss out on precious evening time with your beautiful bride!
- You’re also going to miss cherished moments in your kids lives. And once those moments are gone they are gone forever…you can’t get them back.
- How are you going to be able to look yourself in the eye later on when you realize that you failed to be present for your kids and your wife because you chose to procrastinate? The clock is ticking!
2. Manage the Mouse:
- I will shut down all email, Facebook, phone and every other distraction before noon each day
- I will enjoy the immediate reward of progress as I complete each day of training.
- I will enjoy the new fresh insights I get as I write and craft each training.
3. Direct the Dolphin:
- Completing this goal will positively impact me, my family, and the TAL Family, and people in the future for a long time.
- I will feel positive about the accomplishment, I will have a clear head and free time to spend with my family each day
- Everyone who gets the training will have an the opportunity for significant transformation in their lives.
- It will feel so good to be ahead of the game and I’ll be able to create even more impactful training because my head will be more clear.
- I will feel accomplished and know that I have done my best.
Now that I’ve written that out all clearly, all I need to do is print that out, post it in the front of my journal, and review it every single day with visualization and feeling.
Man…when I read that ‘croc’ section I get a bit choked up…that is good! We need painful emotion to get the croc in motion.
This will get all three brains pulling the same direction!
(I did the above process this entire week by the way…the result was fantastically different than last week!)
So what about you? How does this help?
What goal have you been feeling resistance on?
Will you go through the 3 brain process above and test out how it works?
I’d love to hear how that goes for you. I believe you will be able to move beyond resistance and procrastination of that thing.
To re-cap and wrap up:
If we only focus on the pleasure of what we want, we neglect the crocodile which is stronger, and that is where a BUNCH of the resistance to our goals comes from in our lives.
I know this sounds counter-intuitive to motivate ourselves by pain and fear. And I’m not suggesting we dwell on that all day throughout the day!
But I’ve re-realized how important it is to speak directly & matter-of-factly to the croc brain, letting it know in no uncertain terms the CONSEQUENCES it is going to experience for certain behavior.
And all it takes is a quick reminder in the morning as I outlined above, or during the day if you feel yourself getting off track.
When the croc brain sees pain, it runs from it. So make sure the croc brain sees more pain for NOT doing what you want done, than the pain of actually doing it….that’s really all you need to do!
This is applicable to every goal in your life by the way
Eating, exercise, work…EVERYTHING! We are all motivated by only 2 factors…it really is super simple:
Pain and Pleasure
And pain is always a stronger motivator. So don’t neglect speaking to your Pain Brain! Give it the proper attention and give it the information that serves you.
Don’t dwell upon the pain and fear,
But DO make sure it’s crystal clear,
Then dwell on the positive and you’ll draw near
your pleasure and reward my dear!
(Gotta let my inner poet out to play every now and again 😉
That’s how we can end the tug-of-war and get all three of our brains moving in the same direction.
Make Today Amazing!
P.S. – Did this croc brain discussion help you? Share below in the comments. How will this shift your results in life knowing how to speak the language of your 3 different brains?
P.P.S – Remember…you’ve got to ‘coax the croc’! 😉