You want to attain your goals, right? You need to override your amygdala because it is to blame for a lot of your failures. This small part of your brain makes you fearful of risks, and often holds you back from what goals you want to attain.
I was reminded of this today when I received Retirement Millionaire Daily, one of the great investment newsletters I get from Porter Stansberry. This issue focused on why people fear investing. Basically, it all comes down to our friend, the amygdala. According to the newsletter, nearly half of all Americans are ruining their financial future because a full 52% are not invested in stocks.
Not investing is one of the biggest mistakes you can make if you want a wealthy retirement.
Some of those folks probably have great excuses. Maybe they lost a job… Or they don’t trust Wall Street… Probably, money is tight. Or it’s just “too hard” to figure out the brokerage forms to get started. These excuses are all based on fear.
When it comes to investing, fear prevents most people from starting. Whether it’s fear of losing money or fear stemming from ignorance.
It’s common investor behavior to freeze in the face of fear. A tiny part of your brain called the amygdala kicks in whenever there’s a perceived threat.
The amygdala makes us want to avoid risk.
Attain Your Goals
This tiny almond-shaped mass was put in our brains to protect us from harm. It controls the fight or flight response when we are threatened. Essentially, the amygdala wants your life to always remain the same. When you begin making changes, even positive ones, it sends chemicals into your bloodstream that make you feel stressed and uncertain.
The good news is, according to an article in Heal Dove, that we can rewire it,
Your DNA also predisposes you to be on the alert and to constantly avoid danger – the need for survival. Your amygdala, or fear centre is wired to pick up danger signals, its releases certain chemicals that fills you with that spurt of courage to stand up and fight or take flight. This does not mean that your brain is hardwired and nothing can be done about it. You could learn to block these neural paths, obstruct the programmed behaviour and teach your brain to respond in ways that are different from its learned patterns of behaviour.
Let’s take a look at how we rewire the brain so that we are not as inclined to risk avoidance. One method is called the ABC approach. A = attention. B = Breathing. C = Count. This basically fools the brain into thinking everything is remaining as it was. Nothing to see here. Move along! Author Beth Turner learned this method – outlined below – when trying to overcome severe stress-related headaches,
Attention: This is hard to do but it is important to monitor your symptoms and catch the first inkling of a headache coming on. As soon as a whiff of pain catches your attention, you go into action with step two, and shift your attention to your breathing.
Breathing: In a split second, with your awareness of headache pain, ask yourself a question: “Am I breathing in, or am I breathing out?” This sounds like a silly question, but you’re doing this to catch the amygdala off guard. Your body automatically breathes without you thinking, but if you draw your attention to your breath and consciously have to make an assessment (am I currently breathing in or out) you can distract the amygdala with this focus on the present moment, and that gives you enough time to do step three, a counting breath.
Counting: This is one big breath, on a 4-8 count. Take one deep belly-breath with your mouth open, lasting for a count of four. You can do this starting in a bit of a slouching position, chin down, then breathe in, pushing your belly out, arching your back and rolling your head up while you breathe in to completely fill your lungs, almost like a gasp. Then, through slightly pursed lips, slowly relax your shoulders down and exhale for a count of 8.
You can improve upon this technique by adding in positive affirmations, according to Dr. David R. Hamilton,
You can even add a little visualization or an affirmation while you do the breath thing or the victory dance thing. For the visualization you might imagine the worry area of the brain shrinking down. For the affirmation you might say a positive statement that reflects how you intend to feel.
Dr. Bela Dhillon provides us with positive affirmations to use in a number of situations. Here are a few,
– I am not going to die.
– At this very moment, I am completely safe.
– Nobody is going to kill me right now.
– I am safe.
– I am calm.
– I am strong.
– I am confident.
– I am safe and supported during all hours of the day and night.
– My safety is always first.
– The universe always keeps me protected.
Positive affirmation is a powerful tool to trick the brain to our benefit. We’ll be examining this more closely in a future post.