Protection 01


Your brain’s inbuilt resistance to change. Protection loves to keep the status quo.

Why the habit exists

When a certain way of doing things becomes established, any attempt to change it can result in conflict and wasted energy. It’s the job of Protection to ensure there are as few flared tensions as possible by preserving the current situation. In neuroscience terms, this is known as the ‘status-quo bias’, where we tend to be apprehensive of change, leading to choices that ensure things remain the same as possible.

Protection always perceives change as difficult and will avoid it as far as possible. If something has worked before, it is easier to repeat it without having to think afresh. This is known as ‘conservatism bias’, where previous evidence is favoured over new possibilities.

How it holds you back

Once we find something that works, we tend to stick with it, unless we stumble upon a better way. Protection prevents us from proactively going on the lookout. Nothing ever stands still and just because something has been done before, it doesn’t mean it’s the best way. However, Protection believes if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and will turn a blind eye to any potential benefits if change is considered too much hassle. Quite often, Protection would have built up a close emotional connection to its existing ideas. Breaking that bond can be very tough. 

At best it will stop you from questioning what changes can be made and seeking out alternative options. At worst, it will blind you from facing up to the truth when things start to go wrong.

How you can train it

  1. Force a constraint. If something is feeling too easy, it’s time to shake it up rather than letting complacency slip in. Necessity is the mother of invention so create a constraint that you will need to overcome. By creating purposeful constraints in the current methods, you have no choice but to use your brain to snap out of the status quo and start getting inventive. Think about what you need for your challenge to work as you would expect, then remove this. Now get inventive by asking ‘how else?’ and ‘in what other ways?’. These are questions that should be asked regularly to force you out of the status quo and go beyond the adequate.
  2. Reverse it. Switch the order of events round. Solve the opposite problem. See what happens when you can’t do it in the usual way.
  3. Instead of taking things for granted, discover what you are dissatisfied with. Really probe and let all your bugs and frustrations build into your creative fuel. Pick holes in what’s currently irritating, then explore all the ways you can remove the headaches and make things better.
  4. Understand your purpose. If you know what you want to achieve and keep reminding yourself of this, you will be able to recognise when situations have gone stale. Having a purpose will enable you to continually adapt and make the best decisions. How you do it may change, but why you’re doing it will remain strong. You will lessen the chances of becoming pigeonholed or stuck in a rut.

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