Our brains have evolved to keep us safe from external danger. That ancestor of yours who heard a twig snap in the tall grass behind her and optimistically thought, “It's probably just a little klipspringer and not a ferocious and stealthy leopard” — likely never existed.
Because even if she had been right 99 times out of a 100, that one moment of overconfidence would have done her in.
And we carry these brains around with us today, even though for most of us most of the time, the dangers we face are those conjured by our thoughts and feelings rather than objective threats to life and limb.
Which is all to say that, according to my guest Dr Ellen Reed, we default to “problem-centric thinking,” or PCT, which sounds like a groovy ingredient found in a particularly strong strain of weed, but isn't.
And the problem with PCT is, well, multiple problems.
For one thing, our overactive minds drag our poor bodies along with them, forcing us to pump out toxic levels of cortisol trying to keep the fight or flight machine running at all times.
For another thing, cortisol and assorted neurotransmitters shunt blood away from the parts of our brain that are actually good at solving problems more complicated than “run away from that leopard,” making us less creative and less capable.
And for a third thing, PCT leads to avoidant behaviors, since fight or flight is really, preferentially speaking, flight (and fight only as a last resort if flight is prevented — again, that gene of your ancestor who turned to face the leopard instead of heading for the hills is pretty much a statistical impossibility), and avoiding our own thoughts and feelings leads to a stymied and constricted life.
And a pretty miserable one at that.
To solve the problem, Dr Reed and her business partner Dr Jason Selk have come up with a straightforward process that they call Relentless Solution Focus, which is the name of their book of that name, which is a pretty fun phrase to write even if all my English teachers ever are turning in their graves, except for the ones who are still alive, who are regretting not criticizing my run-on sentences vociferously enough.
And if anyone needed proof that my brain is not to be trusted in stress situations, may I point out that it was my brain that just wrote that last paragraph-long sentence.
Anyway, enjoy this conversation. I hope you find Relentless Solution Focus useful in your life.
Relentless Solution Focus on Amazon
You CAN Change Other People!
Well, that's what Peter Bregman and I claim in our provocative book of that title.
What we really mean is, you can help the people around you make behavioral changes in their own best interests. If you think you're powerless to help people change, it's because you've been going about it the wrong way.
Discover our straightforward, replicable process here: You Can Change Other People.
Audiobook: Use the Weight to Lose the Weight
Listen to Josh LaJaunie and me narrate our latest audiobook, about how to start moving when you're obese.
It's $10, and Josh and I split it evenly 🙂
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The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.
It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.
You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.
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