The Danger of a Reasonable and Rational Argument

…And How to Overcome It

Today I coached someone who told me that she is nervous because she has a big presentation coming up and she has put off practicing it all week. Let’s call her “S”.

S keeps thinking that it could go horribly, and this is making her nervous. And when she feels nervous she avoids working on it so she puts it off hoping that later she will feel motivated or inspired.

Now the obvious answer is to just practice in order to be better prepared and in turn less nervous, and S got there on her own, telling me that she “just needs to set aside the time and push through the nervous feeling in order to be prepared enough”. It all sounded very reasonable.

Reasonable Isn’t Everything

But just because you have a very reasonable and rational argument for doing something doesn’t mean you’re going to do it.

S had been trying and failing to convince herself to get into the action with this very reasonable and rational argument all week.

When I pointed this out and asked S what she thought would happen if she continued trying to convince herself with the same argument she confessed that she would probably wait until the overwhelming panic of the last minute set in and then cram.

Break the Pattern – What Else is True?

Here’s the thing: If you want to break a pattern for real you can’t just try harder to convince yourself, you have to find a new approach that you can buy into.

The good news is that if you change the thoughts you are focusing on, it can change your whole approach. It’s simple, but it will take varying levels of effort and creativity. 

Here’s a hint, if it feels like “I should” or “I need to” you’re headed in the wrong direction, that’s convincing territory.

S and I explored the situation and she came up with the following new thoughts:

“It might be bad when I start to practice”

“The presentation is already ready, all I need to do is rehearse.”

“It’s normal for it to feel awkward when I start rehearsing.”

“If I practice I can find out what I’m capable of.”

Keep Moving in The Direction You Want to Go

Those thoughts didn’t suddenly make her 100% confident and excited about presenting next week, but they created room to consider things other than impending doom and elicited some curiosity, and a desire to practice.

It’s up to S to work on bringing herself back to these new thoughts when her mind wants to veer back to catastrophizing, but every time she does it will feel more familiar.

This is how you break patterns. This is how you get on your own team. This is how you make things happen that you didn’t know were possible.

In the Kickstartology Alignment Coaching Program we teach you how to do this and to create a well-managed mind: The Alignment Mindset.

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