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3 Traps to Watch Out For and 5 Ways to Get Over Them

Not enough time? Feeling low-energy and hung over? Are your dreams being stepped on? Get over the traps by tapping into these 5 brain-hacking tools:

  • Acceptance
  • Movement
  • Mindfulness
  • Inspiration
  • Compassion

Starting off a new year has its challenges including 3 distinct traps, especially in North America when the grey cold skies make everything more energy demanding. When I get hit by any of these traps, and I just did actually, it is important to have effective tools nearby. Tools that will help you get over them productively, professionally and with personal growth in mind. Here are 3 traps to watch out for and 5 ways you can jump over them.

Trap 1: Too many goals, not enough time

Woohooo! It’s the new year! I’m gonna do ____ and ____. Oh, and I also want ____ for sure. Plus ____ has to get done. Look and sound familiar? After the ball drops and the fireworks fade away the reality of having to deliver what we want for the new year comes into play. Unfortunately, play doesn’t have much to do with it for most. Achieving goals in this age of distraction is extremely challenging and requires high levels of focus. Since our focus is constantly being eaten up and no one is creating an APP that magically achieves our goals for us, we have to make time. But how? The most common opening statement amongst my clients and colleagues, hell even amongst my friends is that, I don’t have enough time. I have wrestled with this dark beast often so I understand the heaviness that comes with believing you are time poor. But this is a trap. IF you believe you have no time THEN you will worry and worry exponentially. We call it rumination and when your ruminating thoughts go on a downward spiral, rest assured, they will take you down with them.

Trap 2: The Happy Neurochemical Hangover

Starting from early December right through till early January the people who celebrate the holidays will enjoy the festive decorations, the parties and the slower paced work schedules. All of this so that we are able to enjoy what is truly important in our lives, positive relationships. Spending extra time with family and loved ones, hanging out and having fun with coworkers, even catching up with old friends that you haven’t been able to see in a while. Not to mention the eat, drink and be merry mentality that leaves some of us with a few extra pounds 😉 We can feel so good from all the holiday bliss that it is as if we are on a total high. In reality, we are. All of this pleasure seeking and community behavior has a very positive neural-biological effect on our brains. Those fortunate enough to be closely surrounded by people in a spirit of togetherness will enjoy increases of serotonin. Those who enjoy a wee too much fun, spirits and mom’s baked desserts will enjoy increases of dopamine. Both serotonin and dopamine are happy neurochemicals released in our brain that are awesome, when in balance. With any high, there is bound to be a low. Whilst character strengths like, modesty, prudence or self-regulation would help us avoid falling into a neurochemical trap, these strengths are not our societies’ strong suit. In fact, research shows that self-regulation comes up as one of the lowest character strengths across north America. That means we can be dealing with serious cognitive lows at the same time that our exposure to sunlight is low and we’re braving our low outdoor temperatures (welcome to -15c in Montreal😉). Even though, you may think you have yourself together, other’s may not and that point, my friends, is often in our blind spot. IF we don’t recognize this trap for ourselves and others THEN we may be having to deal with other people’s neurochemical hangover while we’re hungover ourselves.

Trap 3: The Vision Wreckers

I recently had a beautiful vision that I was working towards the last 5 months. 95% of the co-workers around, leaders included, we’re contributing to make the vision a success. They too shared the understanding of how rewarding the vision would be for the organization once realized. For me, it was like observing the budding of a seed, planted and nurtured by an entire community. But, just before the first bit of stem was about to emerge, a Vision Wrecker, as I like to call them, came by and publicly stomped on the fledgling bud. Stomped and smiled to be precise. Why? They didn’t think it was what they wanted to see. Events such as the one casually described above occur more often then we would like to believe. The Vision Wrecker’s reaction can be seen as a remnant of a decaying culture that still holds tightly to judgment, control and fear. Instead of joining the community in what the majority believed to be an exciting co-creation this individual exercised their control to serve themselves and not the community. They pre-judged a situation through a lens of fixed ignorance instead of curious growth. Finally they acted out of fear for what they didn’t want rather than what they did want. An important takeaway lesson here is that our reactions to such a trap is not caused by the Vision Wrecker. Our reaction can only be stimulated by forces outside of us. Sure, the Vision Wrecker was a massive catalyst but we all own our reactions and IF we fall victim to the actions of others THEN we fall into the trap and relinquish our power to them.

Now for the really important message, the tools to use to get over these traps.

Tool No.1: Acceptance

  • Accept that u need to focus and support yourself by disabling distractions that eat up your time.
  • Accept that you work towards progress, not perfection.
  • Accept that it is more effective to stay mentally positive & resilient than to catastrophize or give up.
  • Accept that roadblocks are challenging obstacles but not show-stoppers.
  • Accept that you are doing your best and focus on personal growth, not personal judgement.

Tool No.2: Movement

  • Move your body by walking or fitness to promote healthy oxygen and blood to the brain.
  • Move your body through exercise to promote healthy dopamine release in the brain.
  • Move your body by taking stretching breaks every hour to reduce tension & stress.
  • Move your negative unproductive thoughts to a holding area like a journal so you can focus on the task at hand. Set aside a short, acceptable amount of time to revisit your concerns if need be.
  • Move your focus and attitude from what is going unwell to what is going well for you.

Tool No.3: Mindfulness

  • Be mindful & calm your mind down so that you can access your brain’s full potential.
  • Be mindful by savoring past, present or future experiences that make you feel good.
  • Be mindful to not always react but to pause and observe what’s going on within you & around you, without judgement.
  • Be mindful of how much you think negative thoughts & challenge yourself to think more positive one.
  • Be mindful by just relaxing yourself wherever you are for a few minutes & focusing as much as you can on just breathing in & out calmly.

Tool No.4: Inspiration

  • Inspire yourself by following the goals you truly love, not the ones you made out of fear.
  • Inspire yourself to use your strengths to accomplish rather than forcing with your weaknesses.
  • Inspire yourself to model your behaviours upon those you admire and make it in your own way.
  • Inspire yourself to trust in yourself and in other people despite the few that may not trust you back.
  • Inspire yourself to live authentically by making genuine decisions that will serve you best to be happy and successful, even when some people may disagree.

Tool No.5: Compassion

  • Practice compassion to build up your empathy towards yourself and others.
  • Practice compassion to lower your levels of anger, bitterness or resentment.
  • Practice compassion with yourself when you make mistakes so that you develop more resilience.
  • Practice compassion to foster positive relationships which can lead to more cooperation.
  • Practice compassion by believing that those who you feel are wronging you are “doing the best they can”.

Enough about me. What do you think of me and my perspectives? Lol.😉Please, let me know your feedback or questions by using the comments on our social media channel of your choice. 

Much love, light and self regulation.

Jason

Always be Self Regulating

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