07 May If you’re not doing as much of what you want to do you might need to overcome these 3 mental blocks
via TED Ideas by Daniella Balarezo
The bad news: We all face powerful mental blocks that stop us when we’re trying to achieve our goals. The good news: We can outwit them. Here’s how, according to cognitive psychologist Amanda Crowell.
This post is part of TED’s “How to Be a Better Human” series, each of which contains a piece of helpful advice from someone in the TED community; browse through all the posts here.
Think about the last time you said you wanted to do something. Maybe you wanted to eat healthier, write every day in a journal, or declutter your home. But despite your sincere desire to achieve the goal, you’ve gotten no further than a few steps along the path. Why not?
While you might be tempted to say it’s because of laziness or a lack of willpower, New York City cognitive psychologist and coach Amanda Crowell has another name for this phenomenon: defensive failure.
Crowell offers an example from her own life to illustrate. Growing up, she loathed exercising; she was fond of saying “I will run when a bear is chasing me and never before then.” This aversion “went on for another 34 years,” she says in a TEDxHarrisburg talk, “until I woke up one day with an infant … and a back that hurt all the time.” If she wanted to be the kind of mom she aspired to be — “a mother who can chase around her kids at the park or pick her kids up and swing them around,” as she put it — she needed to get in shape.
One Sunday, she told her husband that starting that week, she’d go to the gym regularly. Monday came and went without her making it there. Then days, weeks and months flew by and Crowell hadn’t set foot inside the building. She says, “I meant to go to the gym, I intended to go to the gym, so why am I not going to the gym!?”
To answer the question, Crowell did three years of research. “Defensive failure” is the term she came up with to encapsulate what occurs when we want to achieve something and we think about it constantly but we don’t do it. She says, “I found that there are three powerful mindset blocks that are keeping you locked in a cycle of defensive failure.” Below, she explains what they are and how to beat them.
Block #1: “I just don’t think I can do this.”
After her need-to-exercise epiphany, Crowell decided to take up running. One day, she put on her running shoes and went for a jog. However, she did so while wearing baggy yoga pants that had no place to put her phone — which she needed, for the 5K app she was using. She was “a mess,” she recalls. “I’m running holding up my pants with one hand and my phone is in the other.”
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