Does it ever feel like your mind hates you?
It’s weird. Your mind is technically yours but it doesn’t feel that way, does it?
It feels like some sort of entity outside of you. It talks to you — often in a, shall we say, not so nice manner.
The mind is like a roller coaster that never stops. You go up and down and up and down countless times per day. We spend our entire lives riding this roller coaster.
Sometimes it’s too much to deal with.
I bet you’ve heard about the importance of “mindset” before.
“Put your mind to it!”
“If you believe, you can achieve!”
Positive statements like these are inherently flawed because our minds aren’t our friends. We have to work against the way our minds are constructed to do anything worthwhile in life.
Let me explain…
Your Brain (Literally) Doesn’t Want You to Succeed
Your brain wants to keep you alive and procreate — it has no other real concerns.
Sure, you’re no longer living in a hunter-gatherer tribe. Your prefrontal cortex is fully developed. You have the ability to reason, solve complex problems, invent, take naked photos on Snapchat, and do a host of things our ancestors couldn’t.
But your old brain — also known as the lizard brain — runs the show.
You experience flight or flight responses when you do something physically safe like speaking in front of a crowd because your brain interprets the situation as real danger. Not too long ago, social rejection was truly dangerous. If the tribe didn’t like you…they left you to fend for yourself.
You second guess yourself at times and find yourself looking at the negatives or downsides of what you’re trying to achieve. Why? Because you’re wired to be negative. Better to assume the rustle in the bushes is a lion than to chance it.
Your “lizard” brain is constantly undermining anything related to delayed gratification — the hard work you have to do to succeed — because it comes from a time when the present was the only concern.
So while I do believe trying to have a positive mindset is helpful, I think most people find success in spite of their minds.
How to Fight Your Evil Brain
I wake up every morning convinced my writing is worthless. The minute I wake up I think “here we go again.”
Sometimes my writing sessions go well and I do feel great about the work I produced, but nine times out of ten I feel like I’m running a race with a finish line that moves further away with each step I take.
Some days I’m up and some days I’m down, but I’ve always found a way to keep working.
Why? Because I know doing is the only real cure for constant negative thinking.
As much as my self-doubt feels real and has a real effect on me, I remember it’s just a product of my asshole of a brain.
I don’t know if I’m truly a good writer, but I know I’m going to write for the rest of my life because it’s the only thing I do where I don’t feel like I should be doing something else.
My mind tries to convince me to quit, but I take action over and over again until it becomes a habit.
When it becomes a habit I don’t get weighed down with “thinking.” I just do.
And the more I do, the less I feel like I’m a hack writer who doesn’t deserve success.
Less, mind you, because the negativity will never go away fully.
The Truth About Self-Doubt
If you have self-doubt about yourself or something you’re trying to accomplish, it won’t go away. Most people’s dreams and creations die with them because of that fear.
People who don’t pursue their dreams are waiting for the fear to go away before they take action because they believe the successful people they look up to weren’t or aren’t afraid.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. The journey to anything worthwhile goes directly through fear no matter how confident you are.
When people get to the top, they have the tendency to make the path look easier than it was. They polish away the little blemishes. They tell you they always knew they were going to make it.
They’re lying. They don’t know they’re lying. Their memory of the past gets skewed by their success.
In your case remember success — by any definition — is a fight against your comfort-loving, rejection fearing, instant-gratification wanting brain.
Don’t jump into the journey thinking it’s on your side. People wonder why they succumb to fear when they’re logical, rational, and decisive people.
Once you realize you’re actually none of those things…you can begin.
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Originally published at medium.com