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Food (& Love!) Hack Friday: Your brain is more crowded than you think

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Today’s food and love hack is about what’s going on in your brain.  Who’s in there, what’s talking to you, and how do you respond to it?

The hack:

Re-think your brain space.

There are a number of different ways we can think about what is happening in our brains.  One particularly helpful one, in my opinion, is conceiving of ourselves, our true selves, as separate from our negativity.

That negative self-talking voice, that hurt voice, that doubtful voice… it is not genuinely you.  It just plain isn’t.  It is instead the external world and all of the damage the external world has inflicted on you over time.  So there is more than just one player in your brain.  There is you, and then there’s the external world creating nasty and hurt voices in your head.

What is truly you, instead, is that pulsating little pinprick of color and vibrancy bouncing around–I’d daresay call it a soul–that negativity impinges upon.  And sometimes squashes.

Ack.

So it’s not just you in there: it’s you, plus all of the bad things that have happened to you.  And while these events have certainly shaped you and made you in part who you are today, for both good and for bad, these parts are not necessary, they are not inevitable and they are not permanent.  

Your negative thoughts are demons with claws in your heart.  They are happening to you.   And yet they are not your fault.   You cannot help that your brain is being attacked.  What is in your control, however, is your reaction to them.  How do you tame the demons?     What is the best way to navigate your crowded brainspace?

The way to do so is to acknowledge that these thoughts, totally derived from the external world, are creating chatter in your brain, and making it hard for you to be your true self.  Certainly you know what this is like.  You want to dance with abandon, but you’re nervous about what people’ll think.  You want to hit on that woman, but you remember the way it felt when the last woman you were with told you you were unattractive.  You want to be free, but how can you if you feel so self-conscious about your dress size?   Old wounds and external pressures make it hard to be ourselves.

But when you acknowledge that your negative self-talk, say, thinking that you do not deserve to be loved, or that your loved ones are going to leave you, or that you’re simply not sexy enough, is not you, that makes it all the easier to tell it to go fuck itself.   This is a bit easier said than done, but if you can parse your brain, and go through all of your thoughts, and think about where the negativity is stemming from, then you can start spotting areas in your thought pattern where you get to be the most true to yourself, and where your pain is taking over.

In the cases when your pain is taking over, you have some options.  You can brush it off– tell it to go away, you’re tired of it, you’re done.  You can also throw love on it.  Much like the anxiety we talked about last time, you can try to smother it with kindness.  Or you can put all of your weight behind your own shoulders and push ‘em up, daring yourself to be bolder than your baggage.  All of these things come easier with time.  They are not easy.  But they are muscles, and powerful.

The task:

Think about all of the different voices in your head, and where they are coming from.  You know that the pain in your life has obviously come from the outside world, but it is important to now internalize the idea that it is not genuinely your thought.

In turn, think about what you, you as that little pinprick of joy I was talking about, what would your essence always be thinking?  What would you, without defensiveness and negative self-talk and pain do?  What would you think?  Feel?  How would you react to situations differently?

The more you flush out these differences, the more you can move forward seeing their divergent paths in your life.  In any given situation, you can see where each would lead you.  Knowing that one is true to you, and one is external, helps enormously.   Forgiving your pain helps.  And siding with yourself, gradually and increasingly throughout time, lifts your spirit and helps you shed the weight of the world.

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Managing director of Paleo for Women and author of Sexy by Nature.

10 Comments

  1. There’s an interesting Buddhist exercise I read once (built by a female … let’s say saint, for lack of a better/correct word) where you find those thoughts) ask them their name and face, have a conversation with them, and then love them to death. I have found it works better than telling them to fuck off. That just makes everyone angry.

  2. Great post. A lot of your posts on topics like this seem to speak right to me when I need it. This is something I’ve been working on. Thanks!

  3. This! This this this! This needs to be put on a big colorful poster and put up in schools and restaurants and offices and waiting rooms and airports and hospitals and metro stations. It’s a brilliant manifesto disguised as an encouraging and sympathetic pep talk, and I really needed to read it today. Thank you!

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  5. <3

  6. Yes yes yes! It’s hard to do, but it REALLY works. I recently started writing, and I ended up anthropomorphizing the negative voice in my head (and my ED in general)…and by turning it into a separate entity, I’ve actually been able to figuratively distance myself from that part-of-me that was trying to hurt me. It’s allowed me to stop listening to that voice and start healing instead. Now, when I look in the mirror and start thinking negative thoughts, I have the strength to look away, thank ED for his opinion, and get back to loving myself for the me who I am. But, like I said, it’s not easy, and it takes work–every day. But it’s worth it, so I’m willing to do the work…

  7. This is so right where I am struggling and growing. I have been working so hard to ignore or bury the negative voice – but just thinking it is not a part of me, but separate, will make it so much easier to get rid of. It’s an outsider, a usurper of my true life/self. Thank you.

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