Why do I make make bad decisions?
Do you know anyone who will choose the cake over the carrots? Or the couch vs the treadmill? Or that glass of wine over the glass of water?
Yeah, me too, and it pisses me off because it's me!
Why is it so hard sometimes to do the thing that is good for us? Why at 8pm would I rather eat cookies and watch Billions than go for a walk? I can literally hear the little voice whispering in my ear:
“Why are you bothering, you’re tired, just take it easy on yourself, you’ve had a long day, you deserve this”
I don’t even hear the other voice. I feel it however, first in my stomach, then in my neck and finally in my head. And the other voice reminds me that this isn’t what I want but I end up with a compromise.
“I’ll just start again tomorrow”
Let me know if that sounds familiar?
Do you know why we have these two little voices in our heads? It's not that you are crazy, it's evolution. With regards to making decisions, the brain can be broken up into 3 parts, they are known as the amygdala (Primitive Brain), the limbic system and the neocortex (Evolved Brain).
All animals have an amygdala, its what keeps us safe, drives our base desires to eat, sleep, and have sex. It controls fight & flight, it is primal and taps into our instant responses.
And our primitive brain is programmed to do the following 3 things:
This is known as the motivational triad, and it shows up everywhere and in anything we do.
Every thought or plan we have will get processed through the motivational triad. Don’t believe me, try it.
Thought: “I should go for a run”
MT: “Why? Isn’t it easier to just watch tv?”
MT: “It's kind of hot/cold outside, its perfect temperature at home”
MT: “If you go for a run, you’ll need to take a shower after, and change clothes, why bother?”
I bet you think that you’re screwed, I can’t fight biology, right? Wrong.
That is why we have the neocortex, which is our evolved brain and separates us from all other creatures. This massive part of our brain is responsible for choice, reasoning, decision making, cause and effect.
In order to change or grow, we need to use our neocortex and use it often. Making decisions intentionally daily and frequently is the only way we can strengthen this part of our brain. Our evolved brain needs to be stronger than our primitive brain in order to overcome adversity, learn something new, and for positive change in our lives.
So as a simple exercise to start strengthening that neocortex of yours, I challenge everyone to pick one small thing that you can control and intentionally do every day for 30 days. Mine is to wake up with my alarm the first time, no snoozing, no exceptions. I’m curious to know what yours is.