Is your brain acting as a handbrake?

If you’re struggling to see progress despite taking action maybe your brain is acting as the handbrake to your success…

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When I first decided to become an “online entrepreneur” in early 2015 I thought it’d be easy.

It’s supposed to go like this. You come up with a niche you want to serve. You speak to your target market to determine their pain points and come up with a valuable product to solve their problem. You then sell the product to them. You give them massive value, serve them proudly and et voila!

You have a following of committed and dedicated clients whose lives you’re changing for the better.

And then your life will be great.

In my mind, by the end of 2015, I’d be quitting my 9-5 job and running a successful nutrition and mindset coaching empire changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of women over the world.

I mean I’ve been successful in so many other areas of my life when I’ve put my mind to it including playing hockey for my country and my own weight loss journey.

Surely I’d see success in this area too?

I could not have been more wrong.

On the face of it, if you take action and you see success.

But what happens if you take action and don’t see success?

What if six months goes by and you’re in no better position than when you started? Or you’re worse off than when you started? Maybe you’ve dropped $10,000 on online courses or lost some weight only to rebound back and then some…

In my case, what made starting a business so much less successful than everything else I tried?

For three years I’ve pondered this question.

I’ve spent hours and hours deep in thought reflecting on who I am and what I’m capable of. I’ve read countless articles and tried more approaches than I care to admit.

I’ve worked with coaches, I spoken to other successful entrepreneurs, I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on this journey, taking action after action after action… because every time I did I was sure this time was going to be different.

But it never was.

Why was being successful in business the one thing I couldn’t crack?

As I sought to find to the answer I realised I’d never find it by looking outside. The reality was everything I was looking for was exactly where I was.

Everything I was looking for was in my head.

It was my mindset.

But more important than my daily thoughts or the positive self-talk I did every now and then like “Rachel, you got this”, it was taking a good long and hard look at the layers, under the layers, under the layers of my mindset.

Think about it as the difference between what you say out loud versus what you truly deeply believe.

The difference between what you want to believe you think versus what you actually really do think.

You see a lot of people take action on their dreams. They take the same actions other people take and yet they still never get anywhere.

So how does that work?

As I discovered to truly get below the surface… to the layers under the layers under the layers… you need to be ready, willing and able to take a long hard look at yourself on the inside.

The deep recesses of your brain is one place you should visit if you’re not getting where you want and you need to know why.

Because if you’re taking action and not seeing any success then chances are you’re driving along with your brain handbrake on.

And until you release it you’re not going to get anywhere.

Let me explain.

On my journey for enlightenment, I had joined yet another online course and found myself in a tight knit quasi-mastermind group with an Influencer I respected and admired.

For about eight months we’d meet and discuss strategies, tips and tricks. I was always taking action even if it wasn’t 100% successful.

One day I discovered everyone in the group, except me, appeared to have been offered the chance to work with another coach the Influencer respected.

Immediately I thought… why wasn’t I?

My inner dialogue soon revealed to me exactly why.

Clearly I hadn’t been given the opportunity because the Influencer thought I was useless. Obviously I wasn’t worth the time because I, and my business, was never going to amount to anything. I was a business “tyre kicker”. I was an embarrassment. So of course they wouldn’t give me opportunities because even if they did, I’d fail at using them.

I’d assumed that’s what they thought.

Now I have no idea why I didn’t get the opportunity and that doesn’t even matter.

What matters is my assumptions about what they had thought had absolutely nothing to do them but everything to do with how I truly thought about myself.

Outwardly I told myself I was okay, I was taking action and I could do this.

But deep down I didn’t believe that.

Without even realising it, I’d stumbled upon the inner workings of my brain and those inner workings were fighting against me at every opportunity.

It didn’t matter how much action I was taking because ultimately I was sabotaging my own success anyway.

My brain was the handbrake to my success.

So to see any progress, I had to change my mindset and not just on a surface level either. I had to dig under the layers to pull out what was really hiding there under the rocks.

But how do you get to the layers under the surface that seem to cause you the most trouble?

How do you take the handbrake off?

After much trial and error these are the steps I took to release my brain handbrake.

If you find yourself taking action but not seeing results then I’d encourage you to do the same. What you find may surprise you.

First things first recognise this is the start of a journey. And while it won’t happen overnight, it will eventually happen. You’re trying to change embedded thoughts which are deeply ingrained so do yourself a favour give it some time.

Then start by taking some time to appreciate that you’re 100% more complex than you realise.

The world is a big and complex place and you’re a small, yet significant, part of it.

I’m not getting all spiritual or “woo-woo” on you here. I’m just asking you to appreciate the universe in which we live because it gives you a perspective you otherwise might miss.

Then start to be more positive about yourself and show some self-compassion.

Showing self-compassion

Self-compassion is being kind to yourself, mindful of your thoughts, feelings, actions and experiences and recognising that you’re part of that something bigger.

But how do you actually do that?

The four steps I used to show self-compassion are below:

1 – Dial back on the negative self-talk

99% of the negative talk you hear is your own and comes from within your own head.

If you spoke to a friend the same way you speak to yourself… do you think you’d still be friends?

Or would you have stopped calling and hanging out with you when you realised you never had anything nice to say and were unduly critical about even the smallest things.

While it can be hard to temper the negativity in your head the best way I’ve found is to simply ask “Is that really true?” Then I listen really hard for the answer that comes back.

For example my negative self-talk was always “I’m not good enough to get this business off the ground”. But by asking myself “Is that really true” what I actually discovered was “I’m afraid my life is going to change and I’m not sure I can imagine what that might look like

Rather than constantly be negative about myself which put me in a negative frame of mind, I instead discovered what it was that was potentially holding me back. As a bonus, I could even be empathetic towards myself as I cut myself some slack and spent some time imagining what life could indeed look like if I had a successful business.

Which leads nicely into step two…

2 – Reframe the questions you ask yourself

Think about the questions you ask yourself.

Are they framed in a positive or negative way?

For example, do you ask yourself “Why can’t I do this?” rather than “Can I do this?”.

The way you frame the question affects how you interpret the response. Coming at it from a more positive perspective automatically means your response will be more positive as well.

And you won’t automatically be setting yourself up to claw your way back from a negative start point.

3 – Be mindful of your feelings

Did you know feelings are the outward displays of your underlying emotions?

Feelings are what appear to you when you’re experiencing something in the deep recesses of your brain.

Is you heart racing and you feel panicked? Then you’re probably scared or overwhelmed.

Do you feel a tightness in your chest or an immediate resistance to a new idea? Perhaps you’re scared or afraid of failing.

Or, in my case, afraid of being successful.

And why it may seem counter intuitive to focus on the negative feelings, or resistance, that show up what you find is by focusing on those feelings they actually go away.

The trouble comes when you do what I did and ignore how you feel.

When you tell yourself “I can do this” or “I believe I’ve got this” and you start to feel the opposite of that, it isn’t the time to push through and hope you’ll be successful.

That is the time to stop and reflect on why you feel that way.


4 – Be willing to change your context

The world you see is the world you interpret.

Ever wonder why or how two people can see the exact same event take place and walk away with completely different views on what happened? That’s because they saw the event through their context and their interpretation of the world.

It’s not that the event itself was different. It’s just that those two people had a different reality, a different perception of how they viewed the world.

This is such a powerful idea as it give you 100% control over your reality and your perception.

For example, was the three years I spent figuring all of this out a “waste of time” or a huge opportunity to better understand myself, what I was capable of and ultimately massive for growth?

If I chose to view it as the latter… an amazing opportunity to learn more about myself and to set myself up for future growth then the possibilities for what I can achieve now are endless.

But if I’d chosen to view it from the perspective in a context where it’s all “woe is me, the sky is falling” then I might have decided to pack it all in.

What would your world look like if you chose to view it from a different perspective?

By putting the above into practice I’ve seen a huge shift in my mindset and some real results from all the action I’ve been taking.

I’ve now got 1-1 coaching clients who are committed and engaged and importantly I believe my ability to serve them. My website is finally getting the refresh I’d been planning for over a year.

Plus, and my proudest achievement, my 12 month coaching programme Functional Physique is off the ground and giving women confidence so they never have to worry their weight, sports performance or health ever again.

I’ve released my handbrake and I’m really going places.

What next?

If you’re wondering why you haven’t lost weight, haven’t achieved your sports goals or are struggling with living “healthy”… even though you’ve been trying hard and taking action… maybe it’s time to take a different approach.

Instead of pushing through and thinking it’ll all work out in the end, take some time to deeply understand yourself. Look past the surface of your mindset, look past the obvious, go under the layers and ask yourself what’s really holding you back?

Show some self-compassion and dial down on the negative self-talk, reframe the questions you ask yourself, be mindful of how you feel and be willing to change your context.

Release the handbrake that’s been keeping you stuck with your eyes on the horizon.

You’ve been staring at it long enough… it’s time to see what’s on the other side.

Originally published at

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