by Certified Coach Alissa Gauger, MBA
Have you had a painful experience in running your practice that changed you? If you are like most Financial Representatives, there was a period when you stopped dialing. Stopped prospecting. You may have felt anxious and fearful. What happened and how can you prevent this? It is probably not what you think.
Instead of dwelling on the problem, try focusing on the opposite. Neuropsychologist and author Rick Hanson writes about our ability to overwrite our own wiring in his new book called “Hardwiring Hapiness - The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence.” You can, "let it be, let it go or let in,” according to Hanson. Deliberately letting in positive experiences can have a powerful, long-term effect on all aspects of our lives.
The challenge is that this does not come naturally to us. “The brain is good at learning from bad experiences, but bad at learning from good ones,” writes Hanson in describing the human negativity bias. It was a far better survival mistake for our ancestors to treat a stick laying in their path as if it were a snake, Hanson explains. The stick mistake might cause unnecessary anxiety, whereas not reacting to the snake could be fatal.
Now, imagine yourself in your office with your primitive brain activated. There are many, many “sticks” in your life every day! Dialing feels “dangerous.” You might get called a name and lose your good reputation. Prospecting is a threat. Your client could get offended and cost you business. Painful experiences can become hardwired in our brains to “protect” us. If someone was harsh with you on the phone or refused to give you prospects, you’ll likely focus on the bad memories and forget the many positive ones that occurred on the very same day.
Your mind formed a neural trace of the bad experience that can sideline your practice. Here’s what you can do about it:
1) Choose to change the default settings of your primitive brain. Without your active involvement, your brain will continue to overreact to threats and not see opportunities.
2) Continuously soak up positive experiences. For example, if you slow down in a given moment you might hear laughter around you that you wouldn’t normally notice. Take it in and let it lift your spirits.
3) Guide your mind to recall positive experiences and “rest” there as often and and long as you can (try for at least 10 seconds).
4) Seek out happy moments on purpose.
5) If something upsetting happens, let yourself feel the anxiety and fear for only about 10 seconds. Then, deliberately overwrite the feelings with at least 15 seconds of the sensation of being cared for by someone who loves you.
Each of us is grappling with the same challenge of using our primitive mind in a modern world. It is natural to get knocked off the rails by bad experiences, but scientists are learning that our minds can change if we are willing to work with them. Think about changing your mind as if you are training a new puppy. Be kind and persistent. Not only will you be able to comfortably dial and prospect again, but that same newly-wired mind will help you truly savor your life and your practice.