A famous sporting goods company has a slogan on their bags that says: “Momentum can overcome anything.” Many believe the best way to overcome our own internal resistance, is to get into action. On Sunday at a race in Oakland, we saw marathoners who took a wrong turn and ran the wrong way for a half a mile. In a 26.2-mile race, conservation of energy is everything. Momentum for the sake of forward propulsion can wear you out and lead you down the wrong path. The best way to overcome our own internal resistance is to better understand the brain.
How does our brain work? There are two basic parts of the brain. The prefrontal cortex is the part that possesses insight, flashes of genius, and superb problem solving. The prefrontal cortex processes about 48 bits of information per second. The majority of your brain matter is called the hindbrain which governs everything else. This is the part of the brain where habits and life-sustaining functions are located. The hindbrain processes 40,000,000 bits per second. It excels at executing routines. The way our brains process makes change difficult.
Our ability to access the information from the prefrontal cortex is more difficult when we are overwhelmed. The Economist reported we are working 1,000 more hours a year than our parents. Our lives today are faster paced and more demanding with little down time. This is what stops us. We resist change–even when we want it–because our body says it is too much to try something new. We are worn out by the logistics of life. In this depleted state, even positive change, feels impossible.
The key to creating change isn’t moving forward, it’s slowing down. If we make downtime, we are able embrace the insights of the prefrontal cortex. When we have moments to think through what we want and how to proceed, the resistance subsides. If you are having trouble creating change, try doing nothing! You will be surprised how decision-making improves and how quickly things fall into place. When you give your mind the freedom of a break, you find the right path easily and your internal genius comes out.