Your brain is wired to be on alert to anything that threatens your survival. The amygdala is an almond shaped sliver in the temporal lobe of your brain that is responsible for your primal emotions like rage, hate and fear. It serves as your early warning system for danger.
Once stimulated, the amygdala becomes hyper vigilant. Your fight or flight response turns on. Your heart rates go up, nerves fire faster, eyes dilate, and your skin cools. Once your amygdala is stimulated, it hunts for similar situations that reinforce the current threat. Every time it finds evidence, the threat is reinforced and this keeps our fight of flight response in place.
The amygdala helped our ancestors survive in the jungle, where threats were ever present and often came by surprise. But now in the modern world it can drive you crazy! Your amygdala keeps you on high alert watching for anything that threatens your survival. Money threatens your survival. Without money, lots of bad things can happen, and it doesn’t take long to imagine them. Money is a perfect attention getter for the amygdala.
You are bombarded with information, millions of news outlets vying for your attention. Look at media content, online or traditional, and compare the negative to positive stories. Over 90% are pessimistic! Bad news keeps your amygdala in fight or flight response. Outlets need bad news to keep you watching and reading so they can sell more ads.
Good news doesn’t catch your attention. Once the amygdala finds bad news, it mostly ignores anything positive and attends over and over to the bad news. Remember, the amygdala doesn’t turn off until the danger is gone. UNTIL THE BAD NEWS IS GONE! When is the last time you looked at the financial news and discovered all the danger was gone? Have you ever had a day when there was no bad news?
This is a triple penalty
- It’s hard to be optimistic, because the brain is designed to attend to pessimism
- Good news gets drowned out, because it is in the media’s best interest to keep your attention, meaning more bad news
- With the primitive emotions of fear, worry and doubt in charge, it shuts down the prefrontal cortex, or the part of your brain that orchestrates thoughts and actions in accordance with our internal goals. You need your prefrontal cortex to align your intention and action.
The part of your brain that you most need, the prefrontal cortex, to set goals, to plan to take appropriate action that gets drowned out in our fear filled world.
It is Ok. It’s not your fault. It is just how you are wired.
But what do you do to thrive when your body is holding you in survival mode?
You try lots of things like:
- Being an ostrich. The fear feels terrible so you just put your head in the sand and pretend it’s not there. But then you are stuck in survival mode. You’re not moving toward your prosperity intention.
- You make rash and impulsive decisions. With the part of your system, the prefrontal cortex, which is designed for rational, logical thought turned off, things can get crazy. You buy financial products you don’t understand. You take risks in your business that are not supported by good data.
- You try Living Low! My favorite strategy! You pinch pennies, and hope there will be some left over and then maybe, just maybe, you can get your needs met. This is a path to survival, but not to thriving or prospering.
Being an ostrich, rash and impulsive decisions and Living Low, just doesn’t cut it. All those strategies keep your amygdala in gear. You need your prefrontal cortex engaged. You need a system that calms your fear and gives your prefrontal cortex the tools that it needs to orchestrate and align your intention, goals and actions.
Economies expand and contract. Markets go up and down. Interest rates rise and fall. These are not impossible events. These movements, which are referred to as uncertainty, because no one knows exactly when they will move and in what direction, are a given. You need a plan that acknowledges this truth. That builds in uncertainty and still helps you make decisions with confidence. Once you have this kind of plan you calm your amygdala and this allows you to use your prefrontal cortex. You move from surviving to thriving.
The one more piece of bad news is most financial planning today is delivered in a way that does not support your movement from survival to thriving. But there are planners out there using processes that do in fact help you thrive.
Here is the secret. When looking for a planner, there are five critical qualities (aside from professional competence) that you can screen for in a planner who will help you thrive.
- The system they use for planning builds financial models that help you see the future. Ask for a demonstration.
- The way the planner works is as a coach or advocate rather than a guru or sales person. Notice the way they conduct themselves in the first meeting. Does it seem supportive to you?
- There is no place in the process for shame and guilt. If in your first meeting, the planner tells you that you “should have” done this or that, you are in the wrong place. You are where you are now. There is no purpose other than shame and guilt for looking at the past.
- The financial plan – for your personal life or for your business — serves as your primary financial decision making tool. So planning never stops. It becomes an integral part of your life.
- Your feelings and intuition are honored as valid contributors to the planning process.
Now you have a simple set of criteria to help you find a planner who will help you thrive. No more hoping and guessing, just five simple, easy qualities to determine criteria.
I believe you deserve to thrive. I believe that prosperity is a possibility for everyone. But here is the catch. Thriving and prospering are a choice. Your choice. You have to choose to step out of the fear of the day, calm your amygdala and move your thinking into the prefrontal cortex. Most of us need help to make that step.
What is on the top of your to do list right now? Is it thriving and prospering? Should it be? Do you need help? What is stopping you?
At Mackey Advisors helping people and businesses prosper is our passion. If you need help, we’d be honored to talk with you.