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OK, so what do you do when your Inner Reptile has a stranglehold on your brain and is pulling out all the stops to prevent you moving forward?

Let’s start with what you don’t do.

Do not, under any circumstances, try to fight him because you will never win. You cannot use the force of your will against the Inner Reptile, at least not for any useful length of time. The Inner Reptile controls your body, quite literally. The reptilian brain is your back brain and the start of your spine – he is the gatekeeper to your entire nervous system! And if he doesn’t want to do something, fighting him will just make him hang on tighter. He is trying to save your life, fighting him will just reinforce his belief that you are on a suicide mission and he will do whatever it takes to keep you where you are. Remember, the Inner Reptile only sees things in black and white – in his world you are either safe or dead. There’s no grey area!

Do not under any circumstances beat yourself up. You are not useless, a wimp, a failure, disorganised, pathetic or whatever else you like to call yourself when you’re not happy with your performance. Beating yourself up will only convince your Inner Reptile that you have lost all your marbles and are not safe to be let out with a human body!

Do not, under any circumstances give up. If you do that you convince him that he was right all along and next time he will take over much more quickly.

So what do you do?

Firstly, make a plan and write it down and then follow the plan to the letter. Do not be distracted by any of the tricks he’s going to throw at you. If its not in the plan its just a reptilian game! Write that at the top of your action plan for every day to remind yourself, because one of the Inner Reptile’s tricks is to wipe your memory clean!!

Secondly, keep a sense of humour! Your sense of humour is one of your most advanced human states and the ability to laugh at yourself is highest of the lot. Being able to step outside of a sticky situation and see the funny side is one of the quickest and most effective ways to get the Inner Reptile to let go. Remember, he’s sneaky and sly but he’s not very bright – if you’re laughing he’s going to think maybe this isn’t so scary after all! If you need to, watch some funny movies, the sillier the better. As long as you laugh lots and laugh long and loud. Yes, you will probably get some funny looks but that will just add to the humourous situation.

Thirdly, make sure that everything you put in your brain is positive. Read positive books like The Science Of Getting Rich, The Power of Positive Thinking or  The Secret or anything by Napoleon Hill. Don’t read the newspapers or listen to the news, the last thing you need is to hear about more things to be stressed about, especially things you can’t do anything about. Avoid negative people. They are toxic at the best of times but when the Inner Reptile is in charge they are doubly dangerous.

Fourthly, stretch lots and do as much exercise as possible. The Inner Reptile can’t keep control of a loose, flexible, stretched body so now is a good time to take up yoga! Run and walk lots too, get a dog or borrow a friend’s or volunteer at your local shelter. Throw some weights around, its a great way to get rid of all that excess tension. Take up a martial art and let the Inner Reptile do some fighting in a safe environment! Exercise increases the oxygen supply to your brain and your brain cells need all the help they can get right now.

And finally, don’t push too hard. Make room in your plan to humour the Inner Reptile occasionally – that way you keep him guessing and let him know that you appreciate all his hard work in trying to keep you alive!

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OK, I’m not going to write about time management again – I did that a couple of months ago and didn’t have time to blog for about 6 weeks after! Have I ever said “what you focus on is what grows”?

Oh yes, once or twice!

So priorities – they really can make the fundamental difference between success and failure. Sure, attitude is very important, having a good plan is up there too, a support network is vital. But if you can’t distinguish between what’s important and what is just noise then all the good intentions in the world will not get you anywhere.

We all have just 24 hours in the day and most of us need to average about 8 of them sleeping, so really we only have 16. But everyone has the same time, so the only thing that successful people have is a better idea of what’s really important.

But here’s the thing about what’s important – it can shift in a heartbeat! Sometimes you have to be able to drop everything to be with someone you love who needs you. Sometimes you have to be flexible enough to move things around when an unexpected opportunity comes up. Sometimes a nasty bug will floor you and you just have to surrender. Sometimes you think you know what’s important but when it comes to the crunch you realise you absolutely didn’t.

Its helpful to realise that the world will not end if you miss a deadline or change an appointment. For the most part the world will adjust itself and get on very nicely without you if you have to duck out for a time!

So perhaps flexibility is even more important than prioritising. Knowing when to be flexible and when to plough on, when to be the immovable object and when to bend like a willow. As always its self awareness that’s the key.

For me, my absolute priority is family and friends. When they need me everything else has to bend. No matter what.

What’s yours?

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Well OK, maybe not eternal! But it’s certainly the secret to staying young longer. And its so simple I can’t even really call it a secret since its so obvious!

The secret is flexibility!

Think about it. When we are very young our skin is incredibly flexible but as we get older it starts to loose its ability to bounce back and eventually starts to sag and droop and one day we look in the mirror and see our mothers staring back!

And look at babies and small children as they play and twist themselves into positions even an advanced yogi would envy! Its hard to believe that once we were that flexible, now we need daily yoga sessions to even touch our toes comfortably.

But the most aging thing is how we use our minds! As a child our minds are wide open and we soak up new information like little sponges! Learning seems almost automatic with children and they are willing to try anything to get what they want. They seem to be open to crazy risks and, if they get hurt in the process, after a few tears they are back up and at it again!

But as we get older it seems that fear sets in, we take fewer and fewer risks and as our comfort zones get more and more comfortable we discover that the secret to an easy life is to do the things we know in the ways that we know, and suddenly we realize that our ways of thinking have become so automatic that we don’t question anything anymore. Once our minds start to lose flexibility the aging process has taken over!

Now, I’m not a great expert on skincare, though I do know that a healthy diet and a good moisturizer can work wonders for your flexible skin. And although I am a yoga addict, there are people far more qualified than me to tell you how to create and maintain a flexible body!

But I am an expert in how to create a flexible mind!

Think back to when you were a child, when life was one huge adventure and falling down was just part of the fun. When did that change? When did you become cautious and unwilling to take risks? And what can you do to get back to that state?

The first thing to do is get used to examining your belief systems. My first coach was a rather scary lady who would constantly ask me “is that a belief?”. She would then ask “ and how does that belief serve you?”.  These are such powerful questions and I ask myself them all the time now, especially when I’m feeling stuck or uncertain about something. You see we create most of our belief systems when we are small children and while they may have protected us then, its always useful to question them and be prepared to dump the ones that no longer serve us. One great way to do this is to read books or articles by people who have views in total opposition to ours and to read them with a open mind. If we try to put ourselves in the position of the writer and ask ourselves how that person could come to think that way it can be a great way to stretch our own minds. I’m not suggesting you change your all views, but just be open to the fact that other people think differently. And understand that they hold their beliefs as strongly as you hold yours.

Another great thing to do to increase your mind’s flexibility is to do new things. As we get older we get stuck with the things we know and we start to believe that we are too old to change. But that is simply not true – its just a belief and it doesn’t serve us! Learning new things throughout our lives is one of the best ways of staying young and keeping our brains open to new ideas. Do one new thing every week that you’ve never done before – even if its as simple as drive a different way to work in the morning! Another way is to get used to using your body in new ways. If you’re right handed try using your left hand for more things, try wearing your watch on the other hand. But be prepared to fail – that’s part of the fun. Remember how many times you fell down when you were learning to walk? No one ever told you then that falling down and looking silly meant that you should stop trying! Failing is all part of the learning process and being able to do something perfectly is not the point!

Use your brain! That’s what its here for! Practice memorising things, learn a new language, do the crossword or Sudoku every day. Read some really challenging books! There is clear evidence that people who use their brains and constantly challenge them are less likely to get Alzheimers. Your mind, like your body, thrives on exercise and there’s not a lot of point in having a fit and flexible body if you have the mind of a ninety year old!

A flexible mind needs a flexible body and the greatest enemy of a flexible body is stress! As our minds tense up so do all our muscles and the greatest antidote to this is exercise. Our bodies simply can’t hold on to stress while we’re exercising. When your body is stiff your thinking becomes more rigid and new ideas have a hard time going in so find a way of dealing with stress that works for you and if you can incorporate some kind of meditation into your routine even better. Studies have shown that people who meditate live longer than people who don’t, so that should be a good incentive to give it a go!

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