Everyday my mind is on a quest. A quest to find a reasonable excuse for me to not do anything. Everybody needs a reason to do something and a reason not to do something.
Most people listen to the voice inside their head telling them what to do and like them, I also have one in my head. I call him Greg (egregious). ‘Greg the worrier‘ has prevented me from doing many things I wanted to do. He’s very good at convincing me. All I have to do is listen to him, and the more I listen to him, the more sense he makes.
Greg has excellent memory — even better than me — he can remember all my past failure in an instant. And he’s very good at organizing my failures and presenting them to me. Greg is my best friend sometimes, we often talk about all the good things that happened in the past and what the future is going to be. But Greg has a problem. He’s a chronic worrier. I know he’s only looking out for me, but most times, it gets in the way. He’s very cautious and does not like to take risks.
Here’s how a usual conversation takes place between me and Greg.
[Walking outside and seeing a girl I know]
Me- I think she’s alone, I should go talk her.
Greg- Na, she is obviously busy with something.
Me- She’s looking this way should I make eye contact?
Greg- What if she talks to you? What are you going to say?
Me- Too late she saw me.
*walks up to girl*
Me- “Hi there!”
Me- “How are you today?”
Her- “Fine, you?”
Me- “I’m good, you?”
Me- Greg, I need your help. Greg?….Greg?
Greg-*wispers* I’m sorry.
(It’s like God is challenging me to get girls on Legendary Mode.)
The Omnipresent Greg.
I know I’m not alone, many people have their own versions of Greg controlling their actions. Greg is powerful and very convincing once you listen to him. But sometimes Greg is wrong. Almost 90% of the things he makes me worry about, never happen. Greg does so because he is programmed to respond to my strongest emotion. Fear. Our Ancestors feared the dark and all that lay hidden in it. Lions and Leopards are no longer part of our Concrete jungle but we fear something of equal magnitude, social embarrassment.
Greg works with our past, and if you’re like me and did not have pleasant memories in high school , there’s a lot more things Greg can make you worry about. Sometimes it becomes a challenge to do simple tasks — like talking to a small group of people — when your own mind is conspiring against you.
How to keep Greg Grounded.
I need to convince Greg that there are no more lions in the dark and that nobody from the audience is going to strangle me. I don’t have complete control over my mind, if I let him, he will squeeze into every corner of thought I have.
“To stop Greg all you have to do is prove him wrong.
Do that enough times and he will shut up.”
Greg only has so much power as you let him. One of the best ways I found to deal with him is, to not listen to him. It’s very hard, especially when doing something you’re afraid of. If it helps, know that everybody out there has something they fear, even the brave ones. The extroverts are right, sometimes it better not to think. I know the first time I went to talk to my high school crush, I was standing there thinking what I was going to say, then my friend pushed me in front of her — I would not have gone otherwise — and I just said what came to my mind and it went okay.(better than I imagined)
Greg is only as good as the information he has to work with, you can update what he runs on by learning new things, reading books, mastering a new language or an instrument. The best thing about this is that once you start proving Greg wrong, he tends to quiet down. The more you expand your comfort zone the better you become.
Just be sure not to get stuck at the acquiring information stage (Analysis Paralysis). Cover the basics, get on your feet and do it, fill in the information gaps as you go.
We all have a voice inside our head guiding us throughout our life. It makes sense to listen to your gut, but know when to stop. Our minds are programmed to fear what we don’t know. The infinite possible scenarios our mind cooks up never happens. Ignorance is indeed bliss, sometimes.
Next time fear takes a grip, know where it comes from, poor Greg must be scared. Don’t listen to him, just do it.
Stop thinking and prove Greg wrong.