Jacky Sherman

The Consultant's Consultant

07970 638857


Frustrated With Your Results? You Need Some Dopamine!

You're just wasted, not a failure ...



I lost it big time this week. As a company, we've invested in Infusionsoft, and I've been looking forward to it for a while now. I can see how powerful it's going to be in organising and communicating with my contacts ...

If you're frustrated with your results then you need some Dopamine!

If you're frustrated with your results then you need some Dopamine!

copyright: dolgachov / 123rf stock photo

However, I was dreading learning to use the new system as past experience of my attempts to learn a piece of software meant that I lived out my belief that it would be a frustrating experience.

So, in best (really worst) Jacky form, I participated in the training, both the videos and company webinars and then prevaricated in actually getting started.

"I couldn't make head nor tail over what I was supposed to be doing at even the very first step, inputting my contact list!"

Frustration led to anger directed first at the people trying to help me as it was their fault for not explaining it to me properly, then at myself for being so stupid.

The outcome was that when I attended the next training session, nothing that our very patient trainers said made any sense at all. The words were English, but the sentences might as well have been in Greek.

As I could feel my frustration spilling over into anger I rather dramatically left the webinar as others attending needed to move on and I would just be destructive and get more and more frustrated.

"Time to calm down and take a step back!"

I had to figure out what was really causing the frustration and find a way to move forward. So I looked up a bit of theory about frustration on the Internet. The first thing that did was remove my limiting belief.

I am an intelligent woman who has learnt to use the Internet so I can learn how to use technology and I understood what the authors were saying as I have a passable working lay knowledge of neurobiology. So I am capable of understanding Infusionsoft.

What I was looking for was insight in how to overcome my frustration. Frustration occurs when we continue to do an action in the expectation of a reward, but do not actually receive that reward. The reward we are seeking is a shot of the neurotransmitter dopamine that comes from getting what we predicted we would receive and when we have achieved a challenge.

A central junction box in our brain is called the amygdala which sends messages between our emotional instinctive lower brain (instant response) and our prefrontal higher reasoning brain, prefrontal cortex (PFC) which is where we access our memory and embed new learning, and it then rewards us with a dose of dopamine.

When we consistently don't get the reward we expect, no dopamine is released and we get no feel good factor. Then the amygdala decides something is wrong, blocks the messages to the PFC and goes into automatic fight/flight/freeze protective mode.

"I experienced all three of these!"

Freeze (do nothing), then fight (anger and blame), then flight (run away from it). As my memory and learning centre (my PFC) was disengaged I was literally incapable of taking in and laying down the essential information I needed from either my trainers and the online information on the Infusionsoft site.

So round and round I was going, doing the same thing and predictably getting more and more frustrated. A vicious circle that I needed to break, as I needed my dopamine fix as well as getting to grips with inputting my data.

Then I came across an article written by Judy Willis called Rebooting the Brain. What does neuroscience research say about motivation and the brain?. It's well worth a read. What I liked about this was it used video gaming principles as a way to avoid frustration and facilitate learning.

In most video games, you work through levels and at each level you are rewarded for passing it. The levels get more and more challenging, but you cannot move up to that level until you have successfully completed the level before. On completion of each level, you get your reward which results in the dopamine fix.

A discussion with my son, a keen gamer confirms this. He states that passing the chequered flag, getting high points or coming first is essential, but so is the sight of his online avatar doing a little victory jig. As he put it, "I don't do that really, but I do it in my head". It's his shot of dopamine.

The earliest games that came out, as I remember them, used to made you go right back to the beginning every time you failed, which, as your competence grew, become frustrating as it was no longer challenging and you no longer got the dopamine.

More modern games usually only take you back to the level you couldn't achieve or give you so many lives. Only with persistent mistakes do you get sent back to the start to improve your basic skills and get a reassuring dose of dopamine to keep you motivated.

I asked him what message do you get when you fail at a level. His response was 'wasted' or other similar slang words. What was important to him was the choice of this word as it had a joking message. It's OK to get wasted but not OK to fail. It's just learning!

So applying these principles I told myself I had been wasted and went back to the Infusionsoft site to start from scratch. To my shame, in my head, I heard a distant voice of one of my trainers suggesting tactfully that I do this and getting her head bitten off for her troubles.

Guess what happened? I found the written instructions on how to load data, went back to the start and read them carefully and found they were in English not Greek. I completed Level One and now know what fields I need for each person to interrogate my data when I want to communicate with different groups of people.

"Dopamine received and victory
dance performed!"

I'm in the middle of Level Two and need to make sure I have all this information in my spreadsheet in the correct format ready to import. Then onto Level Three; read the instructions carefully, ask my trainers to clarify any specific points and download the data. There, I knew I was intelligent enough to do this!

If you're frustrated with your results for something and find no-one seems to be able to answer your questions, but just talks Greek at you, try going back to Level One and start again.

Break the task down into sections starting with something easy to do and be clear what the reward is at every level. If it doesn't work first time remember you're only 'wasted' not a failure.

If I've helped you at all with your dopamine levels and you haven't already signed up, then do subscribe to my blog and I'll see you at about Level 6 when I send it out via Infusionsoft.

I promise you will only get my mailer once a week as a result.

Until next time ...


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07970 638857