I sipped on my coffee while mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and I find myself silently laughing over a post that my friend put up.
“What are your pet peeves?” She asked
Of course, people love to have a chance to vent, so there was a wide range of responses, but one stopped my laughter as snapped me instantly back in time.
“I hate it when people are late; it says they do not respect me enough to be on time.”
10 years ago, I would have been commenting about how much I hate that too and likely would have added in something about people being lacking willpower to get their butt in gear to show up on time.
However, I had something happen that shifted my whole paradigm of why people are late.
I had a client, we will call her Sally, come to me 10 years ago. Sally was chronically late, no matter what she did, no matter how good her intentions where she was always 10-15 min late for everything.
She is a brilliant woman who gets more done by noon than most do in a whole day, so it did not make any sense why she could not get anywhere on time. It did not matter if it was work, doctor appointments, graduation ceremonies, she was late for everything.
This would piss off her bosses, co-workers and clients. Friends and family who loved her would tease her about it. She hated being late, it stressed her out yet she could not get herself to make it on time. When it came to important events, the best she managed was only to be a few minutes late.
Now, Sally had been working with me for other things, so this was also an issue for me as well. I suggested we explore what was underneath this behaviour and see what might be going on at a deeper level for her that was creating this lateness.
Turns out, there was an incident in her early teen years. She had always been the kid that was teased and picked on by the others in her class, but one day the “cool” girls invited her to join them for some games. They were to all meet at the school just outside the gym. She waited and waited, but no one showed up. Eventually, she gave up and walked home, rejected once again.
The next day, she overheard the girls laughing in the hall at her and how stupid she looked just standing there waiting.
Sally was so hurt, doing her best to pretend that she did not hear them, she walked away from them and snuck into the bathroom to let the tears flow out while vowing never to let anyone do that to her again. She swore she would make sure that she would never arrive before everyone else so that she could not be hurt like this again.
Thus began the pattern of being late, always making sure that the “others” were there first so that she was not stood up and humiliated again.
Of course, she had mostly forgotten about this memory, and by the time she was out of high school it was a well-formed habit to be late, yet she did not connect it to the fact that she was protecting herself.
On the outside, it looked like a very damaging behaviour, yet she was diligently working to keep herself from deep pain as only school children are capable of inflicting.
Our brains are incredible creatures, yet in areas of deep emotion and the need to stay safe, we become slaves to what is often called our reptilian brain. The part of our brain that does not have cognitive reasoning or even language, it reacts purely on instinct, and its primary function is to keep us safe.
So when we feel threatened or imprint something as threatening, our reptilian brain will take over every time, willpower and reason will lose out. We are powerless to override our reptilian brain and force ourselves into action.
Instead, we need to change the programming of our reptilian brains, to disconnect the mechanisms that are firing that we are not safe.
For Sally, once we were able to connect with that incident, change the energetic patterning that the reptilian brain had attached to it, she was free of the need to be late. From that day onwards, she was easily able to be early or right on time. She was rarely late, and if she was it was because of something unexpected and out of her control like a freak accident on the highway, but day to day she had zero resistance to being on time.
It is so easy to think that people are lazy or lack the willpower to show up on time or to do something for you that they said they would, but my experience with Sally showed me that there are times when that perception is totally wrong. To see that people are often the victims of their reptilian brains and are simply lacking the tools to create the change.
Using willpower and force to get ourselves to change when our reptilian brains are seeing the danger is as effective as trying to put two south poles of magnets together. You can push really hard and get really close, but you will never succeed.
Willpower is no match for subconscious programming. So, if there is something that you have been fighting to change and no matter how hard you try it won’t budge I just want to let you know that it is not that you are broken, stupid, or not strong enough.
What if it is just that you have not had the right tools to change things?
Critical tools for shifting the patter of the stress reaction
- Breathing – the simple act of taking a deep breath triggers the body to release the chemicals that produce relaxation in your body. The more stressed you feel, the more you want to focus on slowing down and taking a deeper breath.
- Clearing out the reactions to non-logical stressors – Take some time outside of when you are feeling triggered or stressed to change the responses your brain is creating.
One simple and easy way to do this is to say out loud what you are reacting to, and then use the deep breathing with the intention to release the stress to move it out.
For example, let’s say you are stressed about calling to follow up on a lead you have in your business. You are looking at the card, and you can feel your heart rate elevate before you even pick up the phone to dial. This is your reptilian brain telling you there is a danger hidden in there about calling this person or maybe calling any lead.
Now that we have identified the triggering event – thinking about calling that lead. You can say, out loud is more effective, “I am safe to make calls to leads.” Now breathe, and let that release. Repeat this process until it feels smooth and natural to say it. Now check and see if it feels more comfortable to make that call. If not, see what other aspects are popping up, maybe a different variation, different reason to be afraid or reacting. Use the same format and keep removing the connections to fear with the action you need to take – in this example it is calling those leads.
You will find that by doing this, digging in and getting all the variations of interesting fear reactions out of your system, you will naturally move into action. No willpower will be required.
Ready to take all that talent and abilities you have and get them working for you instead of against you? No willpower required, as we clear out the resistance you naturally and effortless less move into action.