"My Brain - It's my second favorite organ" Friday July 21, 2017
The title is a Woody Allen quote.
So, Brains - Here's what I know about Brains:
1) Brains love patterns. "Oooh, that's familiar," thinks Brain. "I know how to make things easier for myself - I will learn this pattern and repeat it at every opportunity." Very useful when you are learning to drive. Not so useful if you want to NOT be depressed. I, for example, have a habit of feeling sorry for myself, seeing myself as a victim. This validates my depression ("Oh poor me, my life is so hard, no wonder I feel depressed") thereby giving myself permission to keep on being depressed... Pretty dumb, eh? Brain doesn't think so - Brain thinks it's the smart, helpful thing to do...
2) It's not just patterns and habits that Brain is good at. It's good at SPOTTING things too. Good if you are a hunter-gatherer and want to see all the small red berries on the bush; less helpful if you wake up and think, "Hmmm, how do I feel today? I ache; I'm dizzy; nauseous; exhausted; feel really low..." Brain is good at spotting all those things. Try this: Ask Brain to look out for all the people wearing blue tops and suddenly, my goodness, nearly everybody seems to be wearing a blue top. What you focus on, you will see lots of - that is the power of Brain!
3) Telling Brain NOT to think about something, means that Brain will be constantly thinking about it. We all know that feeling. The more we say "I will NOT think about...", the more we think about it. Which, of course, also feeds into the patterns mentioned in point 1 and the 'spotting all the bad things' in point 2.
So are we all doomed to repetitive, negative thoughts? NO!
Firstly, I have come to accept that the state of the inside of my head is MY responsibility. I can rant and rail and blame the Fates, the Government, my ex, the weather... but ultimately the only person choosing what I am thinking about is me.
If I want to experience periods of contentment, I have to prepare the ground for that. I have to recognise the patterns Brain tries to make me follow and shout "STOP!" I have to think about GOOD stuff, because then Brain gets good at spotting it and does it as a pattern.
Unlike Woody Allen, my Brain is actually my FAVOURITE organ. I know three things about the Brain. Remember those things. Apply them to your life - reject the patterns that are not helpful; look for the Good (it's everywhere once you start looking); don't say "Don't...." (ha ha) just notice all the good things, fill your Brain with them. And then keep at it...
At first my depression was a black, cold prison made of rough, grey breeze blocks; no windows, no doors; totally dark in there. "Looking for the good" created a tiny chink of light. With persistence that chink grew to be a crack, and recently several bricks actually fell out and I have a glimpse of freedom! (It's very colourful and light out there!)
I am not belittling the seriousness or severity of our various states of mental health, nor am I denying the impact that they have on our lives, I am just offering something to the Moodscope community that has helped me. Please try it and see. Look around you now - what can you see, taste, smell, hear, feel or even just remember that is GOOD?
A Moodscope member.
Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.