Why do we shut down and stop thinking and how to overcome it

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Why is that when we are faced with news that challenges us and our status quo(for good or bad) we tend to focus on the negative and catastrophise? Meaning we play out the worst case scenario/s over and over. Recently a client of mine, let’s call her Michaela, was presented with news by a client of hers which directly effected her immediate cash flow.

Being in start up mode she feels very vulnerable financially and it is of constant concern on how to make it all work. The news itself is not what is important but how she interpreted it. Initially she went into over drive thinking about how this news is bad for her and her business. She felt deflated, winded and incredibly down. She saw no way out. A few hours later after letting the situation calm down and she talked to someone about her situation. She found by talking to someone she was able to see the situation from another angle. Then she came up with a great solution that turned the tables completely in her favour.

After she recounted the story to me I reflected on what she had said. This situation has happened to me and I am sure that it has happened to you too. But why? Why do we shut down and stop thinking? It comes down the chemicals in our brain, the good old fight or flight response which is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to one’s survival. So how can we gain clarity to begin problem solving when there are chemicals rushing through our system that minimise our capabilities?

1. Perception. The key challenge is to change the way we see situations so when things happen we don’t perceive them as threats but as opportunities. This is not an easy task to do but it is achievable.

2. Get Physical. By doing something physical even as simple as taking a walk, helps dilute the amount of chemicals in our body by increasing the oxygen in our system. That’s the physiological aspect. However it helps you change your scenery and thus your perspective.

3. Talk About It. Sometimes we can’t see the wood for the trees…we can’t see the opportunity in front us, so by talking the situation or problem through with someone provides us with another perspective. We need to be open to different ideas and perspectives but it may be the solution we are looking for.

4. Drink Lots of Water. Once again, we are dealing with a physiological reaction even though it feels like more of a mental and emotional one. But to assist in diluting the chemicals causing the problem, we can assist by drinking water.

5. Time to Relax. How do you like to relax? Breathing, yoga, meditation or some quiet time – whatever you like to do, this is the time to do it to bring stillness from the chaos that is happening in our minds.

6. What Would You Differently? After going this experience it’s time to reflect on how you reacted. Ask yourself, what would you do differently next time? Take the time to reflect and be kind to yourself. This is not an opportunity to beat yourself up but to figure out new strategies that you can implement in your business and life.

How have you dealt with this type of situation?

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