from the


from the Top of the Mind


from the
Top of the Mind

“Dr. Crawford’s presentation was the highlight of the conference and a much needed reminder for all of us (especially nurses) to keep it all balanced. Bill’s psychology background surely protruded through his messages and I know it was well-received by all!”

Nancy Perovic, RN, BSN
University Of Chicago Hospitals, Chicago, IL

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“While choosing the devil we know over the devil that we don’t know may seem like an effective strategy, when all is said and done, we still may find ourselves living in Hell.”

~ Bill Crawford

Why People Fear Change

In my seminars, I talk a lot about change, and why people resist change, and, for many, I think it comes down to fear of the unknown. In fact, they often use the phrase “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know” to justify this resistance.

Of course, there was a time when indeed this was true. When our ancestors were living in the jungle, taking an unknown trail could result in their being attacked by a wild animal. Or, if some unknown tribe was approaching their village, there was the real potential that they could be dangerous, and, therefore, fearing the unknown was indeed a smart strategy for survival.

Today, however, given that few, if any, of the situations we face on a daily basis are truly “dangerous,” I suggest that fearing the unknown may not be the best strategy to choose if we want to move from simply surviving to thriving. Why? Because, even if we choose a familiar “devilish” situation given that at least we know what we are dealing with, when all is said and done, we still may find ourselves living in Hell. In fact, there is another quote that goes nicely with this theme that says, “Some people stay in Hell a long time because they have learned the names of the streets.” Michael Levine.

Of course, for those who follow my “Life from the Top of the Mind” philosophy, you know why this fear of the unknown is so prevalent in today’s world. The part of the brain that is responsible for our survival (the limbic system or middle brain) is interpreting some negative situation as dangerous and throwing us into the lower brain (the brainstem) which is responsible for dealing with danger.

Unfortunately, since we can’t access our best thinking or skills from this lower brain, the result is that we are often left feeling frustrated, angry, depressed, and/or powerless. Not only does this undermine our self-confidence, it makes the idea of change seem even more frightening, which results in our digging in our heels even further.

Therefore, if our goal is not simply to survive in “hellish” situations, but to thrive and create a life that we would recommend to someone we love, I suggest we shift to the “Top of the Mind” or the part of the brain that allows us to access our best.

In other words, if thriving is indeed our goal, and if clarity, confidence, creativity, and compassion represent the best of who we are, let’s become clear about whether we are willing to trust these more purposeful ways of being as we deal with change.

It is truly what we trust (awareness versus worry, proactive versus reactive, thriving versus merely surviving, the neocortex versus the brainstem), that will determine whether we create a life of joy and meaning, or find ourselves once again in another hellish situation, simply because we have learned the names of the streets.

~ All the best, Dr. Bill

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