Why do I start things and don’t finish them?
Do you ever wonder why you have to try and try again? Why you start things and don’t finish, or they don’t seem to work?
The most important thing to know is that we are all on our personal life journey. It is beautiful and complex and also messy and sometimes frustrating, but always unique. In that uniqueness though, we all have something in common and that is we run into problems. While some problems are smaller or bigger than others we also have this in common too – our problems are similar. Problems with being a teenager, problems with raising a teenager, problems with our health, diet issues, health issues, marriage issues… you understand.
So we often find ourselves, on our personal life journey and when we do encounter a problem, we need to seek a solution. In todays world we have several solutions that are offered us as our remedy. Sometimes, too many.
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You have a problem that needs a solution.
There are a multitude of self-help book we can read, tons of feel good, catchy inspirational quotes and lots of paths to take with promises of results. So many in fact, it’s hard to know how to choose or know which one will work?
A very common example of this is home organization. There are so many plans and methods and bins and baskets that all trigger the very core needs we are experiencing. The marketing touches our very real emotional pain and discomfort, self-criticism that we want to overcome. We become so triggered that we are wiling to accept a quick low risk remedy to get rid of that pain – a solution to our problem. It is an immediate appeal to feel better.
Sometimes they do work, at least temporarily. But why?
It’s because it only addressed the surface of the problem.
Start with identifying the ROOT of the problem.
The way to approach problem solving, or problem identification, is by getting to the root.
When I was young and had to go outside with my mom and weed the garden beds, my objective was to make it look good. I would get it looking fresh in no time, raked up and weeds gone. My mom couldn’t believe I could get it done so quickly. Until very soon after the weeds reappeared. She told me that I had to go do it again. Ugh. I just did it. But the problem was I didn’t get the root out. Or more accurately I didn’t get it all, and it came right back.
Does this sound familiar? How about the organizing example. Maybe you’ve tried organizing your closet or the kids playroom. Only to find ourselves looking at beautiful baskets that never got used or finding ourselves having to reorganize them over and over?
Or look at dieting. So many of us have tried and failed with their diet programs that they actually have a name for it; yo-yo dieting. While we try and fail we ask ourselves questions as if we are trying to solve some mystery…
Why is it that this system worked for them and not for me? Do they have the lucky combination or some stroke of genius that I’m lacking? How do I find my winning combination? Should I just keep trying a little of this and a little of that until something sticks?
NO. You have to get to the root of the problem.
To find the root, I think we have to talk about the elephant in the room…
You need to identify the source of the root – your deeper struggle.
The elephant in the room.
A common expression you have probably heard is, “can we please talk about the elephant in the room,” or “is anybody going to address the elephant in the room,” which is a reference to the idea that there is something bigger going on here that we can’t just ignore.
To get to the root of why we accept solutions that end up not working, we need to talk about the elephant in the room and take a quick lesson in our biology and our psychology.
As it turns out the elephant in the room isn’t an elephant at all – it’s really a lizard!
But the lizard is a reference to our reptile brain, also referred to as our lizard brain. We all have this little bit of brain called an amygdala. It is responsible for our primitive needs for survival, safety and security. It is important for sure, but as we have evolved in society the threats to our survival have greatly diminished as compared to primitive days.
What is the lizard brain and what does it do?
The amygdala is responsible for our fight or flight response. This section of brain primitively craves safety, and survival. It is the hypervigilant subconscious that tells you not to take that risk, perceiving threats and craving emotional safety. Like a lizard, it is sensitive to its environment and reacts to perceived threat (fear) or reward. To use another animal as an analogy, before I knew about the lizard, I called referred to this as a “scared rabbit.”
You can identify your lizard manifesting itself in several ways: procrastination, criticism (often self), anxiety, obsessive behaviors or busy-ness, and myriad excuses. You will also notice self-sabotage and negative thinking.
The lizard also responds to emotional rewards. It wants, something to make us feel good in the moment, the shortcut, or quick fix, also feel-good impulses like shopping, eating, drinking or even sex.
It’s the lizard that kills the diet plan.
When it comes to running your home, to using my weeding analogy, we can find ourselves in the garden cleaning it up and finding we are having to go right back out and do it again. It might be quick and fast and provide relatively instant gratification, but that shortcut has great cost in the long run.
As always, THE KEY is to do it right once. But now the question is how?
How do you beat the lizard?
Now before we completely give it a bad rap, let’s just say it is a necessary part of our anatomy for sure!
The problem ends up being that it fights with our higher areas of reasoning and we find ourselves in a cycle of starting things we don’t finish, eating things we said we wouldn’t eat, doing things we said we wouldn’t or ending up with projects we have always wanted to get to but never started. Then comes the cycle of self-shaming, and guilt. Happens every day, all the time, to all of us to varying degrees.
It counteracts our other centers in our brain used in higher processing.
Back to biology. Thankfully, we also have two other sections of the brain called the limbic and the neocortex. Without getting too deep, the limbic involves relationships and feelings and memory recall. It is involved with habits, emotions and attachments. The neocortex is responsible for logic and reasoning, thoughts and processing data, imagination, the big picture and creativity as well as language. Along with the reptilian (lizard), these three sections or, layers of the brain are collectively referred to as the triune brain and they are all interconnected.
You have to engage all three areas of the brain to gain control of the lizard that is hijacking you from living your best life.
Seth Gogin calls this process quieting the lizard brain. I like his use of the word quieting. There is a time for the lizard to speak, like in a threatening or traumatic experience, but often your lizard just needs to shut up a bit! Steven Pressfield calls it overcoming resistance.
Did you hear that my friends? You can get the lizard quiet so you can overcome!
How to eliminate the problem.
Step 1. Identify your negative self-talk and limiting or destructive behaviors.
What you really want to do is consciously activate the other layers of your brain and start with the awareness that the lizard exists followed by the awareness and observations of your behaviors and what I regularly call negative self-talk. Capture your instinct to self sabotage, or self criticize. Identify when you are feeling guilty, avoiding or craving something. Write them down.
Step 2. Apply your logic.
Apply the value of your self-correct with reasoning and logic using your higher levels of thinking. You also must apply the vision of your success! As Seth Godin refers to it as thrashing. It’s a process of wrestling with and taming or quieting or beating that lizard in the beginning.
Applying your logic will combat the negative self talk. This isn’t hard, unless you have allowed your reptile to really grow strong. Then you must realize this fact – he will shrink with every self-correcting validation and piece of logic.
The more you master this process of quieting your lizard, the easier the solutions are going to work for your problems.
The last question you really must ask yourself is…
How can this help my with getting my home under control?
While it can take a little time, when you apply this process to your home management systems, they last. This is our mission. To help you create simple home management systems with lasting results. The first step is not letting the bad habits and negative self talk hold you back. When you start here, the remaining steps in our guided approach make your home management system become the standard not the quick fix. You will live the lifestyle that you designed!
This is the secret to making huge strides in ALL your endeavors! It is why we stop and reflect and plan and visualize before we implement our systems. It’s why they work!
Don’t let that lizard hold you back. You can make this happen!
Here’s to a new day ?