Human brains are extremely good at remembering the tiniest of criticisms, including messages that aren’t actually criticisms at all.
When in doubt, they’ll err on the side of caution and tell you ‘oh no, you’re in trouble again’.
Like the time someone at work frowns because they have a headache, and you think they’re mad at you; or the time family forgets to send you an invitation to something and you decide they all HATE you.
You know the kind of thing.
Your brain’s job is to keep you safe – and part of that means NOT letting you get kicked out of the tribe. So your brain constantly checks to see whether you’re still fitting in okay, and it will correct your behaviour if it thinks you’re not.
That was really useful for our cave ancestors, because fitting in to the tribe was essential to life and exclusion meant certain death.
But that’s not the case in 2020. And we don’t have to let brain run the show!
Human brains are also pretty useless at remembering the positive impact we have on the world, and the ways we make a difference in people’s lives.
Our brains notice a compliment. And depending on how we’ve been raised, our brain dismisses it (‘aw shuck, this old thing?’) or it says ‘thank you very much’ … and then forgets we did something well. Either way, our brains don’t naturally remember what we got right.
Here’s a powerful tool you can use to change that so you can embrace a bigger, brighter YOU in 2020.
Every time someone sends you positive feedback in an email or a note on FB, or praises your work in any way, or says you helped their day, or gives you a compliment, or says thank you because you did a kind thing – collect those and add them to your Dossier of Awesome.
That’s the first step.
It does exactly diddly, without the second step!
You have to review the Dossier, at least once a day. Reading it once is like eating one lettuce leaf and thinking your metabolism will change. No. You have to use repetition.
Imagine you’re preparing to go undercover.
You’d want to know everything about the character you’re creating for this undercover role – every single detail of their childhood, their dietary preferences, their work life, the kind of Scotch they drink.
You wouldn’t just read their dossier just once, because your life depends on knowing those details intimately and reliably and instantly.
You’d study that thing, you’d commit it to memory, recite it while you’re cleaning your teeth or driving down the road or in the shower.
This is like that.
Study your Dossier of Awesome, at least once a day for five to ten minutes. It’s not hard. Just browse through the contents randomly, spending time simply basking in the positive feedback you’ve received. Do more if you have time. But do at least once a day, preferably as early in the day as possible. Over breakfast is good. Sitting in bed before your feet hit the floor is better.
Doing it daily is better than not doing it because you can’t find the one perfect time.
Your brain will begin to remember the good stuff more easily. And it will NOTICE the good stuff more readily, too.
And as it does, it will turn down the volume on the hesitations and self-doubt and imposter syndrome and all the rest.
I use Evernote for my Dossier of Awesome because I like the ease of clipping, and the fact I can whip out my phone and study my Dossier while waiting for coffee or picking hubby up from work, for extra brain juice.
You could print things up and paste them into a scrapbook like an old news clippings collection, which is fun if you want to add stickers and colour in the pages. This approach also involves your body doing actions, and that can be a super effective way to help rewire your brain.
Make a start on your Dossier today.
Take ten minutes to find one bit of positive feedback via email or on social media, or even write down something nice that someone said about you once. MAKE your brain find or remember something.
Brains LERVE being given questions to answer.
Be smart about the wording of the question.
Something like “what’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me?”. If brain says ‘nobody ever did’ – you know it’s lying and you’ll have to push it beyond that. It could be the way someone thanked you for reaching something down for them at the grocery store. You brain might try and tell you that doesn’t count. It’s your job to say ‘shut up brain, this TOTALLY counts!’ **
Keep collecting and building the Dossier.
If you’ve already made your version of the Dossier of Awesome, but you’re not regularly reviewing it – time to start!
Schedule at least one time each day for reviewing it.
You don’t need long.
Just five or ten minutes of browsing through and reading random entries is plenty. Set it up in your calendar for a couple of weeks at least (though I recommend this as an ongoing life habit, for best results).
I’d love to hear how you use YOUR Dossier.
Dossier of Awesome, ENGAGE!
** note – sometimes brains resist anything that will make you happier, because they are SCARED of change. Don’t let brain do that. You’re the boss here. Start with one small thing – find three things for your D of A. Bask in them. Notice how they have the potential to make you feel good. Add another thing. Bask again. Rinse and repeat.
If brain is being a complete arsehole and you need some help with the retraining, I can help with that.