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March 22, 2022

Don't Look Down

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You’ve probably heard this line in an action movie before. Someone is walking a tightrope, or hanging off the wing of an airplane, or crossing a rickety bridge, and then you hear someone say “Don’t look down.” Well of course, the normal human reaction is to do exactly that - to look down. Why is that?

It's almost impossible to not look down, and that’s because of our negativity bias and threat detection systems. Our brains are looking for information in our environments that might be evidence of harm. When you hear the suggestion to not look down, your reptile brain takes over and creates a strong urge to look down and determine the nature of the threat. This happens all the time in life - We rubberneck when we encounter a car accident, we eavesdrop when we overhear an argument… Our brains are designed to prioritize negative information like this. That’s why we look down.

The challenge then becomes, what do we do about it? Well, instead of looking down, look forward. When you’re walking the metaphorical tightrope you are more likely to fall if you are consumed by what’s under you instead of what’s in front of you. If you direct your attention toward the end goal you find the path to get there. It’s a matter of what you’re attracting into your life and there are two options. You can look down, fall, and get what you were trying to avoid, or you could look forward, persevere, and get what you want. You look past the roadblocks, obstacles, failure points, and immediate challenges and instead pay attention to the opportunities, possibilities, and lessons in front of you.

Simply put - When someone tells you not to look down, they’re right. And the more you let the danger below take up your headspace, the more it will affect you and restrict you from performing how you want to. I know this is kind of an abstract concept but let’s make it more tangible right now - What negative things in your life are you paying more attention to than you should?

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