The Key To Reaching Your Goals In 2020?


As I went back into the podcast archives, I was fascinated with an episode with Dr. Marc Schoen, the Assistant Clinical Professor at UCLA’s Geffen School of Medicine where he specializes in Boosting Performance and Decision Making Under Pressure.

I enjoyed re-listening to all the useful information that has helped transform my life….LISTEN TO THE FULL EPISODE HERE 

It was a great reminder about how to gain that extra edge and shift how we conceive what’s possible in whatever we do… especially in the new year.

Two parts of the conversation took center stage. 

1. Invest in yourself… start with your mind

We live in a world that has become so technologically advanced…which makes our lives theoretically a lot more comfortable. Because of that, we have become less tolerant of being uncomfortable.

We have become far more sensitive to this discomfort in our lives. Because we are more sensitive to discomfort, it is pushing this fear response or “survival instinct,” and leading us to essentially overreact with fear, stress, anxiety in situations that really don’t merit it, like a social situation or someone cutting us off on the freeway.

This was never what the survival instinct was designed for. It was designed those situations that demanded us to take action in genuine, physical stress or threat. So, what we need to do ultimately is retrain our ability to manage discomfort, to change it so that discomfort is much less of a threat.

2. Why Positive Thinking Alone Doesn’t Work

We have, essentially, two different parts of our brain. One is this very logical part of the brain – the cerebral cortex. It’s the part that allows us just to reason, abstract reasoning, be insightful and so on. Its goal is just to make sense of the world, to understand it.

We have another part of the brain that is the limbic system or the limbic brain. The limbic brain is where all our visceral motor responses and centers are from fear, anger, pleasure, sleep, and pain. The goal of this limbic brain is, to keep us out of danger. It is looking at any situation that it might perceive as one that is unsafe. It’s clearly a black and white distinction. We’re either safe or we’re not safe.

What happens is that when we get in situations like giving a public speech, we might be concerned about being judged harshly. Internally, this limbic brain experiences a certain level of discomfort. So, we have discomfort not just from a place of physical discomfort, we have an emotional discomfort as well.

As the level of discomfort rises within us, the higher it gets, it crosses a certain threshold and this limbic brain, then, says, “I am in danger.” Then, the logical brain – the cerebral cortex – says, ” I don’t want to feel this way.” So, we try to think positively, saying to ourselves “There’s no reason to overreact. Stay calm. Take a deep breath.” But it doesn’t work because this limbic brain has a direct connection to our fear reaction in the body, and the cerebral cortex doesn’t have that direct connection. It just can’t have the same power as this limbic brain. 

So, discomfort training goes at this limbic brain to train it so that when it starts feeling discomfort that it is not a threat. So, in discomfort training, we want to expose people to higher levels of physical and emotional discomfort and, then, train the brain to not feel that it is in danger.


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