constant brain trickery
As humans, we have evolved through millions of years of evolutionary programming. Most of that time we have spent hunting and gathering, being part of the tribe. That millions of years of programming have created neurological wiring that helped you back then to guarantee you two most important things for the human gene to last: survive and reproduce. In my older post, I call this programming a prehistoricOS or Kernel. Something that drives you in every decision you make. We constantly seek comfort and the path of least resistance. We seek pleasure and connection. The more we are tapped into the “old programming” the more reactive we are and it is easy than ever to be controlled by simple manipulation techniques that do not even have an intention to harm us but just do what is “best” for our old programming. These techniques can be both external (your circle of friends, your search engine, your youtube channel, your Instagram account) and internal (your fears, your self-talk, your belief system, your identification with all of that). I will leave the external for another post and focus on the internal now.
Every time you are facing a decision, your brain will always seek pleasure, comfort, and the path of least resistance. Most importantly you know what is right and wrong for you from the long term (your intuition, your heart knows very clearly), but the long term is usually too far away, and the joy can happen right now. You can have that one more chocolate piece, or one more TV series episode, that one more rest day and without you even knowing it, whole chocolate has been fully eaten, you have binged the full TV series and have not gone for a run for more than a month. It is the immediate brain trickery that will force you consistently to seek pleasure and avoid pain. That is why “life” with all its abundance can be so hard for many people. Because we are not programmed to have all of this. To have so many distractions, pleasure, comfort, and security. We have been given an old software into a new age. Age of comfort, 24/7. So what can one do about it? There are many ways how to improve your response to old programming and one might sound stupidly simple, but it is called silence. Whenever this “seek pleasure, avoid pain” mode hits you, next time you will be deciding to have that one more bite, one more TV series, just pause. Stop doing whatever you are doing and just stay still in silence. That pausing is the hardest part. It feels wrong. It feels you need to do the exact opposite of what your brain is trying to convince you. If you can, sit/stand in silence for the first 1 minute and just observe the internal dialogue, you can spot a very interesting conversation that goes like this
Coooome ooon, you can have this! It is just a tiny bit. It cant do any harm.
But I know it is probably not the right thing to do. What about my goals?
F*ck goals, this is now, this is fun. This is pleasurable. Just a tiny bit and you can go to do your goals.
But I don’t want that, I feel bad after and have regrets that I could not resist again.
Well, from tomorrow you can stick to your goal but for now, you can just have it. It is just right there. It can’t do any harm.
F*ck it, I am having it.
I am sure most of you have ever encountered this dialogue in your head at least once :). Now you might be asking how silence has any impact on your decision making? How you can avoid the trickery of your brain with silence? Well, silence is profound in a way, that you start listening, but not immediately reacting. That immediate reaction is your hardcore programming not giving you a chance to build that distance. You are just sitting and observing. By just observing that dialogue in silence, you will slowly find how absurd the dialogue is. Almost like sitting on a train over-hearing the conversation between the spoilt child and its mother trying to explain to the child that he can’t have a third can of Coca-Cola. If you sit there as a silent observer, sooner or later you gonna become annoyed by the conversation. Now back to your sitting in silence, you are actually that spoilt child and that mother in one person. If you realize how ridiculous this is, that you can only feel compassion for the child and you can start squeezing something that I call “the pump mantra”. You can imagine that mantra in a scene of the movie 300, when Leonidas I. (Gerard Butler) screams “This is Sparta” but rather than screaming “This is Sparta” scream “DO THE OPPOSITE”. And that’s it. Now you have an instruction on how to do it. Starting is not easy, but the more you practice, the easier it becomes. Is it ever gonna go away? No! The programming of millions of years won’t go away, but your response to it can become easier and easier. It is like with cold-showers. The first second will probably be always little be annoying, but the reward for taking that cold shower, the way you feel after, is worth the price of that first second. And this is true for any other “seek pleasure, avoid pain” scenario. Next time you faced with a similar situation, wait in silence, observe the dialogue, see the ridiculousness of that dialogue, become compassionate, and then DO THE OPPOSITE! It is worth trying at least once to see what happens, no?