To anyone watching, I would have looked like a lunatic, dancing in my kitchen, yelling “A WEBINAR IS NOT A SABRE TOOTH TIGER!” over and over again. What they wouldn’t know is that what I was doing was completely backed by neuroscience.
See, I was about go online and do a live webinar and I was sh*tting myself. Which is not ideal, when you’re meant to look calm, confident and like the expert you’ve said you are.
Luckily, I’m a Clinical Psychologist and know exactly what I need to do in those moments, so that I can deliver the goods without having a nervous breakdown.
See, what Psychologists know that no one seems to be talking about, is that busting through limiting beliefs & committing to outcomes isn’t enough for a growth mindset. Nor is seeing the opportunities in challenges or acting before you’re ready. That stuff is great, but it isn’t enough to have sustainable success in your business or career.
What you actually want to do, if you want a growth mindset, is regulate your nervous system.
And just hold on, ba ba ba! Don’t freak out if you think that sounds too scientific or complicated – it’s not at all. Let me tell you what I mean (look out for the Beyonce metaphor).
Your autonomic nervous system literally has one job: to make sure you’re safe. When it thinks you’re safe, you’ll chill out and be able to access what I call your Unicorn Brain.
That’s the part of your brain that’s responsible for all your excellent creative ideas, emotional intelligence, problem-solving, communication (the good kind, not the screaming or shutting down kind). It’s where your genius zone lives.
You need your Unicorn Brain to run and grow your business in a way that maximises your profit and keeps you calm and confident.
But here’s the thing. If your nervous system doesn’t think you’re safe, it will drop you out of your Unicorn Brain and into fight, flight or freeze mode. In this way, it’s like Beyonce’s bodyguard – always on the lookout for danger and ready to act at the slightest sign of it. #protectbey
Fight mode might look like screaming at your laptop, before slamming it shut. Flight mode could be jumping from one task to another, frazzled and overwhelmed. And freeze mode might look like lying in bed at 3am, staring at the ceiling and worrying about how you’re going to solve the challenges your business is facing.
In other words, you don’t want to hang out in fight, flight or freeze for too long.
Not only because you’re not able to think, create, connect and solve problems to the best of your ability. But because doing so, can make you anxious, stressed, snappy, irritable, exhausted, hopeless, frightened of growing your business…the list goes on.
Functioning in fight, flight and freeze mode for too long, isn’t pretty. I’d say it’s at least partly responsible for why so many business owners quit too soon or struggle with high-functioning anxiety whilst grinding to grow their business.
So the next question is of course: what can you do to get out of fight, flight and freeze mode and back into your Unicorn Brain?
Here are 3 tips:
1. Take note of what your Unicorn Brain feels like for you
For me, it feels like sharp thinking, solutions that don’t take long to find, crazy excited energy when I’m doing work I love and a sureness that I’ve got this. Like totally got this.
2. Figure out what your fight, flight and freeze modes feel like
For entrepreneurs, I notice that fight mode is usually characterised by rigidity, uncontained anger, control and snappiness (no judgment – remember this is just your nervous system trying to keep you safe).
Flight mode can feel like a zippiness, flusteredness, jumping from one thing to another, jittery.
Freeze mode can feel either like Eeyore from Winnie-the-Pooh (“I don’t know why I bothered with those facebook ads, they aren’t working anyway, I should just give up now….hmmmfff”) or like a deer in the headlights – panicked and unable to think clearly (think about the last time you had to state your salary expectations in a job interview – you might have gone into freeze then).
3. Catch yourself when you drop out of your Unicorn Brain
Once you’re able to differentiate between your Unicorn, fight, flight and freeze modes, we want you to start trying to catch yourself when you begin to drop out of your Unicorn Brain.
Just notice that’s it happening, put your hand on your chest and say “thank you nervous system, I know you’re just trying to keep me safe. But truly, this is just a presentation at work. Not a sabre tooth tiger.” And then slowly open your eyes, calmly smile at your colleagues who might be slightly alarmed by you looking like a lunatic, and start your presentation.
If anyone gives you flack about it in the tea room, tell them it’s science.
Talya Rabinovitz is a Clinical Psychologist, Mindset & Executive Coach, who helps driven women remove the psychological blocks that stop them from having more confidence, calm & income in their business or career. Sign up for her latest live free training “3 Big Success Blockers Feeding Your Anxiety & Keeping You From The Results You Deserve & How To Overcome Them” here.