The Jim Fortin Podcast

EPISODE 53: “How Your Brain Sabotages Your Goals”

September 18, 2019

How many times have you set goals for yourself only to find that you’re right back into your old patterns and you never achieve what you think that you want?

If you’re like most people, that is your exact pattern: Wanting a goal but not achieving it because you can’t shake loose of your old patterns and habits.

In the first sentence I said, “What you think that you want.” What you think that you want is not what you get because you get your habits and they don’t come from the “thinking” part of your brain.

In this episode I talk about:

I have created episodes on habits but this one dives deeper into the exact way the reptilian brain sabotages your goals and what you think that you want.

Transformational Takeaway

Your goals come from your prefrontal cortex “thinking” brain and your habits come from your reptilian brain. They battle each other and you have to disassociate from your reptilian brain habits.

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Full Episode Transcript


You're listening to episode number 53 of the Transform Your Life from the Inside Out Podcast. And in this podcast I talk about, and it may sound a little bit oxymoronic, but I talked about how your brain sabotages your goals. Keep listening.

Hi, I'm Jim Fortin, and you're about to start Transforming Your Life. from the Inside Out with this podcast. I'm widely considered the leader in subconscious transformation. And I've coached super achievers all around the world for over 25 years. Here, you're going to find no rah rah motivation, and no hype. Because this podcast is a combination of Brain Science, Transformational Psychology, and Ancient Wisdom all rolled into one to take your life to levels, you've never thought possible. If you're wanting a lot more in life, to feel better, to heal, to have peace of mind, to feel powerful and alive, and to bring more abundance and prosperity into your life in this podcast is for you. Because you're going to start learning how to master your mind and evolve your consciousness. And when you do that, anything you want, then becomes possible for you. I'm glad you're here.

Stop Listening to Your Reptilian Brain

Okay, I know what you're thinking you're like, Jim, I mean, come on, my goals come out of my brain. But how does my brain sabotage my goals? Well, I've done a couple of episodes about habits. And, you know, I started thinking about this episode. And even though I've done I think, two episodes on habits, what I want to do is talk about a specific area of those episodes and on habits. Also, I do know that many times we will hear things and the brain filters that out, and then we hear it in a different way. And we're like, oh, aha, okay, I know what he's talking about. Now I know how to do what I need to do next.

So I want to talk about one aspect of your habits and the brain that's responsible for that aspect of your habits. So when I say that, for example, your brain sabotage you, it's not your entire brain, it is your reptilian brain. Now, you might have heard me say before, let's do this, first, let me talk about three parts of the brain very quickly, you've heard me talk about the three largest parts of the brain or the three predominant parts of the brain. And I don't even know how I can defend that, because scientists still discovering all day long, you know, and many, many, you know, after many years of research, and, you know, many, many years in the future about how the brain works, and I'm sure they'll never, never figure it out, because the brain is a extraordinary supercomputer. And it's not just a brain, and you know, organic matter, it is also consciousness and the brain filters consciousness. But anyway.

So the three things are three parts of the brain are the what I want to talk about are the prefrontal cortex, which is the largest part of the brain, the thinking part of the brain, the part of you listening to me right now and then processing, you're listening to me, that is a pre frontal cortex, then we have what's called the middle brain, the mammalian brain, or the limbic system, which is the emotional part of the brain. And then we have the oldest part of the brain, which is the reptilian part of the brain, that is also the Fight or Flight Center, in our brain, that part of the brain does not air quote, think it simply is survival based. And it basically just functions, for lack of better words on autopilot, that part of the brain also is responsible for our autonomic nervous system and keeping us alive. And I want to go back here is that is the survival fighter flight part of the brain.

Now, this part of the brain, the reptilian part of the brain doesn't like change. And the reason that it doesn't like change, and obviously, I'm speaking here in colloquialisms and everything else, when I say that part of the brain doesn't like change. I mean that part of the brain is not sitting in a lazy board chair with its arms crossed, saying I don't like change, I'm too lazy to change, it's not that way at all. But that part of the brain is responsible for our survival. And once we've established habits, that part of the brain knows that these habits are obviously or that part of the brain, air quote, things, or response from our works from whatever habits we have our survival based. Now, I know, you've heard me say that before, if you've listened to the other couple of podcasts on habits, but here's something that I might have touched on, but I want to touch on a little more is that the reptilian part of the brain really, really works from predictability. And many times we think that, we like to predict what's going to happen, but then we can think about that. But that really comes from the reptilian part of the brain, because that is a survival mechanism. And the reason it's a survival mechanism, because it can predict, based upon behaviors, no, you know, if I walk on the edge of a cliff, I can predict, and there's no railing and I'm on the edge of a cliff. Well, there's some predictability that I may fall off that cliff, or, many years ago, if we were, you know, when we were hunters and gatherers, and we'd leave the cave, we would want some predictability of well, you know, what, if I go out and get food, am I going to be attacked by a saber toothed Tiger while I'm out actually hunting for food?

This one research study that I read about done many years ago, demonstrating predictability in the brain. And also I think, when it comes to chimpanzees, I think their DNA, I could be wrong, I think it's 3%. I don't think it's one. But chimpanzees, they share something like 97% of our DNA as a human being. And they had these chimpanzees and in a research lab, and they were basically showing them food, and basically the chimpanzees were conditioned to see bananas.

And what they did is in the same experiment, the same study, they had condition the chimpanzees to see bananas. And then what they did is they hit the bananas, they show chimpanzees, lettuce, and the chimpanzees would start throwing a fit, because what they predicted to happen, meaning seeing the banana, they didn't see they saw the lettuce instead. And that wasn't what they were predicting, or, you know, processing cognitively some way in the brain. So you and obviously, you're not a chimpanzee, but again, you are a mammal. You know, people often miss that fact, also, I don't really think people really think about the fact that we are animals. I mean, we eat other animals, we eat animal products. I mean, I was, you know, in Whole Foods tonight, and just marveling at how we as humans, we consume things on the planet, not even recognizing that we're consuming other living things.

Anyway, whole different podcast. But the thing is, this is the reptilian part of the brain likes predictability. And this is a survival mechanism. This is why for example, if you're setting these lofty goals, and you have to put yourself out there and all this kind of stuff, really, you can't predict what's going to happen. And that's outside of the air, quote, comfort zone of your reptilian brain, when things are not predictable for us that that equals fear for a lot of people. That's why so many people stay in their comfort zones, because they can't predict what's going to happen when they leave their comfort zones, then what they do is because they can't predict what's going to happen, they never leave their comfort zone, because they never leave their comfort zone.

Here's the irony, it's very simple, because people never leave their comfort zone, they never leave their comfort zone. And because they never leave their comfort zone. They never leave their comfort zone. And hopefully the way I explained it, you can actually kind of, in your mind, draw, visualize or imagine an imagery of a circle there. I mean, people just go in circles their entire lifetime, because they do not want to leave their comfort zones. I remember a guy that I was talking to, and he's a multi millionaire makes a lot of money online. And now I don't know if he's telling me the truth or not. But it sounds good on paper. And I do agree with it. He said, The number one thing that I did to get where I am is I got I got comfortable with being uncomfortable.

But for most people, when things are uncomfortable, that creates anxiety and anxiety is painful for people. So for us to become comfortable, what we do is we we avoid the anxiety. And then we go we go right back to our comfort zone again. And we stay in those patterns for years and years. And obviously, I'm a human being I'm on the planet. And I've been in this places in my own life. So I definitely understand it. So talking about goals in this particular episode, here's the thing is whatever habits that you currently have, well, that's gotten you to where you are, I mean, literally everything you have in your life is a result of habits.

And if you want to create new things in life, obviously, you have to have different habits. But then here's where the catch 22 comes in, is that we have to create new habits but the reptilian part of the brain, because the prefrontal cortex thinking part of the brain thinks we want something new, something different, something better. prefrontal cortex doesn't like change. So therefore it doesn't want to get rid of old habits because it works from old habits or our current habits are necessary for survival. So what we have is we have them what I call the which you've heard me say before the brain battle, you have the reptilian brain and working from survival, literally at odds with the prefrontal cortex thinking that we want new and better and different things in life. And you've got two parts of the brain battling each other. And you've heard me say before as well, what happens is nine times out of 10, the reptilian brain will win over the pre frontal cortex thinking brain, because the reptilian brain actually also engages them into emotions, and emotions are stronger than thinking.

To demonstrate that let me give you a great example here. A very simple one. Let's say that, you know, you're watching the weather. And the weather says it's going to be really, really cold and rainy and nasty outside tomorrow. And you start thinking Well, okay, if it's going to be cold and rainy and nasty, then you know what the hallway closet, I've been getting to clean that out for a long time. Now I'm going to clean out the hallway closet. Next morning, you wake up and guess what it is beautiful and sunny, then what happens is your imagination kicks in, and then your emotions kick in. And then what happens is you actually start thinking, you know what, it's nice outside, I want to go canoeing or kayaking, or golfing or bike riding or to the park with the kids, or whatever. And then guess what happens to that closet that needs to be cleaned out, it doesn't get cleaned out.

So notice here how even your thinking is overwritten by your emotions, which is mammalian brain and your emotions are driven by your reptilian brain. And this is why so often when you get into fear, your thought about fear is actually overwritten by the fear. So as you can see, your reptilian part of the brain is fighting the prefrontal cortex. And the reptilian brain is sabotaging what you air, quote, think that you want. So this is how a part of the sabotage your goals. And you know to give you another example here about the reptilian brain and how it doesn't think is let's say, for example, if you're like me, I do not like snakes. I kid you not I it must be some kind of past life something or I don't know, but I have an irrational fear of snakes. And I could actually go to hypnotherapy and do self hypnosis, but there's no point in it. Because I mean, I don't see any snakes for the most part in my physical environment. But let me keep going here. I remember many years ago at the zoo, I walked in the snake house and I walk right back out because I do not like to look at snakes.

And I grew up in rural Texas, and we did have snakes. But since then, I mean, I've never encountered a snake. So there's no point of me going to hypnotherapy to get over the fear. But my whole my whole reason for sharing this is I tell you, if I saw a snake I would be out of there so fast. That's not even funny. And that's reptilian brain, it's not prefrontal cortex. Prefrontal cortex would be um, what is that creature? Is? I don't know. I guess it's a snake. Oh, do we like snakes? Or do we not like snakes, that's all prefrontal cortex, left brain thinking. Whereas my animal, my reptilian brain is boom, we're out of here, dude, we are done with this. So that's what our reptilian brain does. As I said, it works from survival.

And when you're trying to reach for new things, and bigger things, and greater things in life, many times we deem there to be, you know, the non predictability and the uncertainty there. And that is counter to survival. And that's why it's so hard for many people to create what they want to create in life. Also, a couple more things here is that I mentioned this before, is what we do is we personalize our habits. And I mentioned that in the podcast just recently, and I think in podcast, episode number five, I believe is on habits. I could be wrong. But I think it's number five is habits are just habits. That's all that they are there are no good habits or no bad habits, the reptilian brain, the analytical prefrontal cortex thinks, Oh, that's a good habit. And that's a bad habit.

Because the reptilian brain a habit is just a habit. But then what we do and I know I used to do it, I no longer do is I used to personalize my habits, and then I would psychologically make them about me, oh, I am lazy, or I am unmotivated, or I am this or I am that. And notice I would give labels and stories to my habits when habits were simply coming from the reptilian part of the brain. So what I want to share with you here is Stop, stop personalizing your air, quote, bad habits, your bad habits, there are no such thing as bad habits. They're just habits. And then what happens is whatever counterproductive you know, sabotaging habits that we have within personalize it, and then we make it mean something about us like I am weak, or I have no willpower, which is a whole different episode. And I've talked about that before. But the way that I look at habits at this point is if I'm doing things habitually and even thinking we can habitually think things, if I am a habitually doing things that do not work for me, they're sabotaging and counterproductive. I don't make it about me anymore. I make it about the reptilian brain. And it's simply just doing its job by perpetuating a habit.

So what I want to share with you this episode is obviously you've gotten the point of this episode. And the point is that your brain sabotages your goals. But it's not your entire brain. It's a reptilian part of your brain. But what I want you to do and I request is that you actually, anytime you find yourself in self sabotage are counterproductive behaviors. Stop chastising yourself, stop telling yourself stories that actually further perpetuate the habit. Stop making things up in your mind about what a bad person you are. So what what I do now is I cognitively actually use the analytical part of my brain to also shift my counterproductive habits, by new heard a version of this before in the other episodes on habits but I will say things if I catch myself and counterproductive thinking, or habit or whatever, I will say things like,

Well, okay, this is not me. This is my reptilian brain, it's a survival mechanism, then what I'm going to do is what people hear me say all the time, is move my attention, move my attention to a supporting thought or habit. When we do this, what we're effectively doing in that moment is restructuring and recreating our habits, literally we are at because we call them good habits and bad habits, what we're literally doing is we are actually stopping the bad habit, by the cognitive process of recognizing it's coming from the brain, and then moving our attention and then actually talking to herself about where we moved our attention to, to that place that supports us.

Okay, so how hopefully this all makes sense to you. But remember, your habits do not come from your, the entirety of your brain that comes from the reptilian part of the brain. And any habit that you have that you do not like, with if you don't like it, that's the analytical thought, prefrontal cortex is coming from the reptilian brain which deems it to be a survival mechanism. Okay, so your transformational takeaway this week is three parts of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, thinking part of the brain, the mammalian brain, the middle brain, the limbic system, and the reptilian brain. What you think you want in terms of your goals is coming from the prefrontal cortex thinking part of the brain. And this sabotage comes from old habits that come from the reptilian part of the brain.

So the reptilian part of the brain will sabotage you. And now that you have that awareness, now that you have that tool and that power, you can start talking yourself in ways, like I just gave you and I just shared with you that I do so that you actually stop the counterproductive behaviors, because you are not your habits. Okay, so that wraps up this episode. Hopefully, I don't know how long it is, hopefully, it's not too long. And you now better understand because you've heard it a few times now about how it's not you you and do not personalize habits and how your brain sabotages you and things that you think that you want.

All right. Speaking of habits, I went through some of that when we have quite a few questions. And I'm grateful for that. Thank you, for all of you that are listening, that are sharing, we get comments, quite free. I mean, daily from people that have said this podcast has helped them. And I'm very blessed and very thrilled to be able to do this for you guys. But I looked at the questions and I picked one that seemed to dovetail with this particular episode. And it's a brilliant question from Malia. And there's a lot more that I'll get into in the next episode on Monday with Molly's question. But the gist is this she's wanting to know what is the relationship between habits and self worth? And when I read that, I'm like, you know what, that's a phenomenal question to answer next because of this particular episode. But this is something that I want to share with you. And this popped in my head many, many years ago when I was in my home office. And I had it on a whiteboard, which I don't know why is behind the office door, which was always open. So I never saw the whiteboard. But this phrase, stayed on my whiteboard for about a decade until I took the whiteboard down recently.

And this just popped in my head one day, but the phrase is this.”We treat ourselves like we perceive ourself.” Consider that we treat ourselves like we perceive ourselves. So if we have perceptions of ourself that are not positive and low self worth, then what we do is we create habits that reflect that back. So we're going to dig in a lot more to that on the next episode. So again, extreme gratitude for all of you for listening and for sharing and for tuning in and investing your time and your energy to participate with me on this journey. All right, make it a great day today. And I'll catch you on the next episode. Bye bye.


Thank you for listening to this entire podcast. If you're the kind of person who likes to help others, then share this with your friends and family. You know, if you found value, they will too. So please share via your social media channels. Also, if you have questions, I'm here to assist. You can email me questions to, and I may even use your question for a future podcast episode. Also, if you want transformational content like this daily, connect with me on Instagram, my Instagram name is @iamjimfortin. Finally, I do have a personal request. I believe that we're all here to help others and to grow and evolve ourselves. together. You and I, let's help more people. If you would, please leave a review on iTunes and a good one by the way. I'd be grateful and through your assistance together, we can transform more lives. Thanks for listening.

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Jim Fortin

Jim Fortin

Jim is an international subconscious self-transformation and high performance expert with over two decades of expertise in brain based transformation and high performance. Using a brain based approach coupled with transformational psychology and ancient wisdom Jim has created programs that create long-term core-level life transformation in his students.

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