Why Is It Hardest to Be Yourself When It Matters Most?

Ever notice that you’re more likely to react in a way you don’t want to when you care the most about what happens?

Seems unfair, doesn’t it?

Let’s say you’re single and you meet someone who might really be right for you, but you aren’t being yourself.

It’s a job interview for a position that fits you like a glove, but you freeze up.

You’re with your child and start becoming impatient.

You’re married and things are beginning to grind down.

Some would say that our reactions are our “true colors” showing in stress, that we aren’t ready to be successful at these situations.

If that were true, then we would never respond better than we are acting in the stressful situation, and we wouldn’t notice the disturbing difference.

It is something else entirely:  these are the effects of high stress.

Researchers can see it happening in the brain, and it’s not our fault.

In dangerous emergencies, our brains are wired to shift to rapid, automatic reactions for the advantage of speed.

Whether the stress is physical danger or emotional pressure, the same brain-switch happens.

This is why the mistakes we make in the social situations are so repetitive and frustrating.

It is also why we can learn to change.

The arithmetic of the brain is that we cannot subtract but we can add.

The same old responses are going to pop up every time – we can’t erase them.

But we can learn to add a new step to the dance.

Suppose you’re the single person and you want to show sincere interest in the attractive, new person rather than struggling to act interesting.

Similarly, you want to focus on what you have learned that impresses you about the new company where you are interviewing.

Imagine being with your child and reacting more the way you fantasized you would as a good parent.

What if you go home to your spouse and aim to make him or her feel loved tonight, rather than gauging how much you’re getting out of the evening?

You can if you take three steps toward stress-proof change.

First, rehearse the new way you want to act until you become familiar with it.

Once you’re good at it, recall past times that you could have used this and keep practicing moving to the better choice.

If you do this enough, you are neurologically attaching the new response onto the old reaction.

Finally, imagine a new event that hasn’t yet happened and rehearse the new steps.

Now, go give it a new try.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 at 7:00 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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