Three times in the past week, I have encountered similar situations with different coaching clients. It something is that much in the zeitgeist, I know that I must talk about it here with your in the blog.
Below are three roughly paraphrased comments from my sessions with very different people; the only thing that unites them all is their work with me. With the first call, I noted it but simply continued onward. On the second, I talked about the unmanaged mind and the damage it can do. By the third, I realized that this is really prevalent and, even more importantly, an unproductive way of thinking.
“My brain is making me anxious.”
“My brain is being a dick and not letting me make a decision.”
“I am not getting along with my brain.”
Does this look familiar to you? The tendency to distance ourselves from the power of our brain is not rare. It is also not beneficial. Read on to learn why and get a suggestion on how to regain your control.
As humans, we do not come with an operating manual. We rely on family, teachers, friends, and others to help us to learn how to function in the world. At first, others do most things for us, such as keep us fed, clean, and safe. As we get older, we are taught to do these things for ourselves. When we begin to be social, we glean more from other sources and learn to deduce things rather than be instructed on them outright (informal learning). Then we go to school and where were finally are taught different types of thinking like math, languages, and philosophy (formal learning). What we are never taught is how to think is a healthy way that benefits us; most of us don’t even know this is an option.
The brain is amazing and can work on its own with little oversight. It can be so independent that over time we can come to think of it as not just omnipresent but also omnipotent as if it is an entity unto itself. That was what I observed with these three clients. They each anthropomorphized their brains to the point that they speak of it as an entity distinct from themselves. While hardly uncommon (I have done this too!), it ultimately does not serve anyone very well.
There are several reasons why scapegoating your brain is ill-advised. To start, it is very disempowering. If you abdicate control of feelings, actions, and/or outcomes to your brain, you are also giving up a lot of strength. Related to this, if your brain decides things on its own, you as an individual can never take responsibility for any action or inaction you may take. If you are not accountable for what you do, you are left feeling powerless and in the hands of fate, God, chance, or whatever AND like what you do doesn’t matter. The biggest risk is that an unmanaged brain can and will do things with impunity. Then you are left with the repercussions and feeling like there is nothing you can do to change your life. I bet this does not sound ideal to you and you are right. This scenario really sucks.
But here is the best thing! It is never too late to take your power back from your evil and unhelpful brain! In the coaching that I do, I help you to become aware that your brain’s initial thought or feeling is not something that happens on its own, your brain is not a sentient force gone rogue, and that you can decide what you want to think about things! You and your brain are actually one in the same and your have a say in what goes on! HOLY SHIT! This is a revelation.
So, you want to try working with your brain but not sure where to start? Here is a quick first step to get you going. When you encounter a new or existing circumstance, you will inevitably have a thought about it. This is what we do. You go outside and see a clear day, you might think “the sky is blue” or “it is hot” or “I wish it were raining”. Each of those thoughts can make you feel a different way. Instead falling back into the thought that you or your brain come up with, take a pause and just observe. See the day. Take a breath. Work WITH your brain to decide what will work best for you. Even if the break is only a few milliseconds, that is all you need to assess your thought and create room for a different one. You can opt to think “I have never seen that shade of blue before” or “the heat makes my skin feel alive” or even “I still wish it were raining”, but now you have chosen to think that and that is powerful. You are now self-determining and your brain it part of you, not just running the show. Congratulations! When you learn how to do this for regularly, it becomes second nature, and that is when your world will explode with possibilities. Try it out and let me know how it goes.