Blind Spots

One of my biggest blind spots that has continually sabotaged me has been trying to stay and act strong. When in real time, I am mentally exhausted, my emotions are not in my control.

I don’t know whether to call this a personality or character fault. It happens under high pressured scenarios where FFF response hijacks me. Looking back I can see situations where my biggest mistakes were made in freeze or fight back mode. I am trying to think of a situation where flight caused me to make mistakes. If anything, taking a step back or fleeing/ running away, seems a better option when hijacked by the emotional brain i.e., amygdala. There is no shame in surviving, live to fight another day.

As a martial arts practitioner…. what will I choose when hijacked by my emotional brain? Fight, flight or freeze? Definitely not freeze… it’s either fight or flight and the judgement call somewhat comes from experience and practise. Exposure to fighting experiences. Once more there is no shame in surviving to live to fight another day, from a position of strength. A martial arts practitioner is a smart fighter, who knows when and when not to engage in battles. He understands that there maybe losing battles, but the war is won by strategy and plan. Damn… I am starting to sound like Sun Tzu. 😅

I am writing this because I am trying to assess why in different situations, my nature is to fight back but that’s because in real time, I cannot tell that my emotional brain has hijacked me. This happens under high pressured scenarios.

Going forwards what procedures or process can I put in place to avoid this pitfall? Flight is a good option that gives me a chance to step back, cut the loss short. It gives me a chance to step away, however, it will only be effective if I can be aware in real time. The emotional brain can be very tricky and often it is very hard to know what is happening until the damage is done.I have failed to do this over and over again. I have made a lot of mistakes in life, in high pressured scenarios, in high performance activities. I guess the only way to overcome these faults of mine is by sticking to a process. It’s easier said than done in real time. But if I am able to take corrective action especially to something I have been blind for so long. I can avoid pitfalls and sabotaging behaviour. I can minimise it, I can keep it under check.

I also know that it will not happen overnight and that it will take further practise. In pursuit of any craft, deliberate practise with focused attention is what builds the necessary skills. That said, I am glad to at least have gained this knowledge through constantly reviewing my own work, performances and analysing fights.

The reason why I like to compare my behaviour and my responses in martial arts to other high performance activities is because my experience and skills are greater in martial arts than other high performance endeavours and skills I am pursuing. It provides me an opportunity to assess my nature, my learnt behaviours. By nature I am fiesty, I do not like losing, I am competitive. I like to do better each time. I am impatient and act often without thinking. Knowing all my faults, the only thing that can save me from myself is a process- one of deliberate practise with focused attention.

To summarise this to myself and hopefully it helps you too, my biggest blind spot is keep on fighting even when hijacked by the amygdala. Why? Because my character has been shaped over years such that I act strong even when I am not. Here perhaps what I am seeing is the double edged sword that resilience is. However, it is not resilience that keeps me fighting. It is my emotions.

I have learnt a lot from these books

So as promised, I have been wanting to share my booklist. In this booklist, I will share the books that have helped me with psychology and self-development. I don’t read 52 books a year like an average CEO, but I do think I read quite a lot for my lifestyle. I listen more than I read. By the way, if you are a blog reader, I talk about a lot of different books in my blogs too…you just have to be willing to read and find the diamonds among the pile of treasure 😉 haha… am not for self-praise but you see what I done there 😀

Anyhow, if you want to grow, develop your character, learn more about yourself, your business, or even just reflect on life and understand the world through different perspectives. I would recommend checking out these books. These are my top favourites in psychology/ self-development genre not in any particular order though.

  1. The Examined Life ( How we lose and find ourselves) by Stephen Grosz
  2. The Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters
  3. Option B By Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant (I am a big fan of Adam Grant’s work)
  4. Give and Take by Adam Grant (You see what I mean lol)
  5. Originals by Adam Grant ( on my wish list is his latest book Think Again)
  6. Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins
  7. Principles by Ray Dalio
  8. Atomic Habits by James Clear
  9. Deep Work by Cal Newport
  10. Focus by Daniel Goleman ( I am a big fan of Daniel Goleman’s work on EQ)
  11. Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman
  12. Maximum Willpower by Kelly McGonigal
  13. The Crowd Study of the Popular mind By Gustave Le Bon
  14. How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie
  15. A Hero with a Thousand Faces (Joseph Campbell) I know this is philosophy genre, but there is lots to learn from this book.
  16. Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche
  17. Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche
  18. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy by Jason M. Satterfield
  19. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman ( This is a classic)
  20. Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Joe Dispenza
  21. 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B Peterson
  22. Maps of Meaning by Jordan B Peterson

Instead of including any external links, I will let you search for these books. Most are available on Amazon, Audible, Waterstones or any other book store. I have some of the above books in hard copy and some in audible version. Basically the easiest way to get them in possession ahaha. Nietzsche is quite difficult to comprehend but there is value there to be found if you keep an open mind. They say there is a thin line between insanity and a genius mind. Wow… these are just some of the books I have read since 2018. Before that I used to read fiction only.

I stopped reading fiction for a while, but I still do from time to time. Maybe next time I will share some of my favourite fictional novels.

While you are here, check out my previous post on How to read a book! 📖

Welcome New Habits, Bye Bye Old Habits

Good habits and process compound. If you were to seek results, it’s the quickest path to lose sight of the goal, lose motivation. Especially when things are not as smooth flowing as per your expectations.

Most of us either overestimate or underestimate our abilities. It is better to underestimate as that keeps you in constant check to improve every day and focus on the process. We overestimate our abilities/capabilities due to one of the following: lack of knowledge, not enough experience, and overconfidence.

It takes time, consistency, and persistent effort with discipline to patch up routines, process; creating learning loops that put you on the path of incremental progress.

From my past experiences, habits you want to eliminate require a minimum 3 months to get rid of. This being the tough period which requires many other aspects such as replacing those habits with new habits, creating new interests or hobbies. Furthermore, getting rid of bad habits successfully also means knowing yourself and the cues that can trigger those habits to resurface. E.g. the place, the people, time of the day but more than these factors if you can recognise the cue that your hippocampus signals to your emotions and thoughts for the cravings is the first step in not falling back into the old habits. Our reward seeking hippocampus and amygdala which triggers emotional responses play a big role in emotional arousals, cravings etc. Ultimately, as a responsible individual, you should learn to not point fingers and find reasons as to why you fall back into the old habits, and instead, take responsibility for your actions. You control your actions, you are given the choices whether to perform those actions or not, whatever they may be. Here, of course I am talking about the things that are under our control and things we can influence.

The 2nd step would be changing your thoughts about those emotions, and those changed thoughts should propel you to take action that stops the bad habits from coming back. For example, if I crave unhealthy food, I will usually feel hungry too. How then, do I stop myself from eating unhealthy food? I may tell myself, that what I really need instead is water or a healthy sweet. Most of the time when we are hungry, what we really need is water. Once I change that feeling with a thought, then it is followed by the action. In doing so successfully each time, I could essentially train myself to recognise these triggers and create a process thereby which, I can stop the cravings for unhealthy food. Doing it over and over and through repetition of a minimum three months from my experience, it is possible to train ourselves to completely overcome a bad habit. An alternative to this step can be, action preceding thoughts and what we think about our emotions. Actions therefore lead and mind follows. You can tailor it for yourself and see what works best for you. I being, more a cognitive type, use the former approach more but obviously it’s a mix of the two, because a lot of the times actions provide the opportunity to reflect and then, they can be tweaked, improved and/or replaced with something different. Important point being we don’t know until we try change.

Over a period of time, even if you don’t reach your desired outcome, the progress and improving process will definitely be noticeable, so long as you are doing something right, using expert advice/help and taking help and support from those around you. This is just a moment of self-reflection for me personally, by writing this down, I am trying to peek into my own mind as if I were looking at myself as my own student. haha this is what solitude leads to… you become your own teacher, you become your own student, you become curious about different emotion, you have thoughts about those emotions and then you try dissect them, improve on them, think and reflect. Writing this out seems a bit hilarious but fun at the same time. Thank you Lockdown haha

I will keep this short and sweet and not jumble it up too much as this is not an expert advice, just a moment of self-reflection.