most all of us have heard them,
but more importantly...
most ALL of us have used them!!!
As I am approaching my 53rd birthday,
I have begun to feel the "sting" of age creeping up on me....
especially when I get worn-down and tired.
In moments of exhaustion, frustration, and overwhelm,
I've caught myself several times recently thinking of
excuses for why things didn't go like I wanted.
Almost instantly- our MINDS can go to
* I've been working so hard and I didn't have time
or * I can't do things like that
or *I don't have the money to do that
or * I'm too old for that
BUT.... today, I got to hug and visit
with Anne Lorimor,
who is now officially
The Guinness Book World Record Holder
for the oldest person EVER to climb Mount Kilimanjaro
at the age of 89.
It was exactly 1 year ago today
that I met this kind, gentle, INCREDIBLE woman,
and it was my honor
to get to visit with her today......
once again reminding and inspiring me
that excuses are ONLY as powerful as our mind lets them be!
There are people all over the world
who have accomplished things that others would feel impossible.
WHY is that?
Neuroscience will tell you it's because of a MINDSET shift.
I know.... many of you are thinking,
"You just don't know what I've been through,
or you just don't understand my life"....
and you'd be right- I DON'T.
But... I do know this:
There are people with no arms or legs who swim and run marathons,
There are homeless people who become millionaires,
There are people who have suffered unimaginable abuse
who grew up to live productive lives,
There are people who have been alcoholics
for most of their lives who stop drinking,
and..... if there was 1, then there can be 2.
So, let's all make a vow to learn a lesson from Anne Lorimor,
and STOP MAKING EXCUSES.
Yes, it will be hard.
Yes, it will likely hurt....
and Yes, it may cost you something.
But, of all the things I have learned
along this journey into how the brain works-
THIS ONE is at the top of my list:
We are what our MIND believes we ARE!
Henry Ford said it best,
"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't - You're RIGHT!"
May we all move into the final month of this DECADE knowing that what we THINK we can do in 2020 is all a matter of how we use our excuses.
WHAT the heck did you just say........... to yourself?
Neuroscience will tell you that the average person has about 60,000 thoughts a day, and I bet you didn't realize that almost 80% of those thoughts are negative.
You might be saying "NO WAY that's true!" ...... but let's look at some of the SILENT THOUGHT THIEVES walking around unchecked in your mind.
1. I'm so tired
2. I can't deal with these kids
3. I hate Monday's
4. We don't have any food
5. This house is a mess
6. My butt looks huge in these pants
7. My hair is CRAZY today
8. My wrinkles are taking over my face
9. My kids are going down the wrong path
10. My job is sucking the life out of me
Mistakingly we're taught that something has to be really mean to be harmful.... HOWEVER modern science will tell you this is just NOT TRUE!
The toxic effects of our inner critic
are running rampant in our own MIND
- playing actual, measurable havoc on your BRAIN.
I have people tell me all the time
that they aren't a pessimist
they're a realist.
And... I'm here to challenge that statement
with some data that many people may not be aware of.
Research data shows that 90% of negative SELF-TALK is COMPLETELY unhelpful in any way.... leaving only 10% of it as thoughts that encourage you to move toward improvement.
For example: when you try on those jeans and you silently THINK to yourself:
1. I look like crap in these jeans
2. My butt looks HUGE
3. I shouldn't have eaten any birthday cake last night
4. I don't have anything I look good in right now
5. I'm just going to stay home a big, fat loser.
Within a matter of SECONDS... you've bombarded yourself with loads of Negative Talk and unknowingly you just dumped LOADS OF NEGATIVE CHEMICALS into your BRAIN: and the THOUGHT THIEF has just taken off with MIND!
So.... How do you learn to silence that negative inner critic?
1. AWARENESS- you cannot change anything you aren't aware of, so the next time you feel your "THIEF" taking over. CATCH him, and just pause and be proud of the fact you knew he was there.
2. Give you "THIEF" a name. I know.... this sounds crazy, but it works. It also helps separate yourself from the thought. When we see yourself as a PERSON and the thought as "George".... then it's much easier to remove him.
3. Remember THOUGHTS aren't real...... they're just an opinion running free in your mind.
and if you really want to step it up a notch and CATCH YOUR THIEF to remove him forever :
4. Say "your negative self-talk OUT LOUD" most of us would never say what we THINK out loud, but we do it within the confines of our mind feeling as if it's harmless. I am here to tell you IT ISN'T!
5. Ask yourself "Would you say this to a friend?" Because, chances are HIGH that you wouldn't..... so why not treat yourself as a FRIEND!
Start today realizing that those silent negative thoughts you say to yourself:
ARE TOXIC- and catch them before they poison your own MIND!
What happens when bad habits, hurtful experiences
or bad memories from your past
keep raising their ugly head in your PRESENT?
Our tendency is to RESIST those unpleasant feelings-
hoping to AVOID PAIN....
however, most people are unaware that RESISTANCE
(or the mental focus on what you DON'T want)
is actually creating a multitude of cognitive and
emotionally charged pathways in the brain.
Feeling pain, whether it be an emotional or physical,
creates a response system- or instinct in our brain
to AVOID or REMOVE it.
For example if your hand touches a hot oven,
we instinctively remove it to avoid the pain.....
but, just like physical pain,
if we don't understand the "WHY" of our pain,
we are highly likely to repeat it.
Even when we are physically ill -
PAIN IS NOT THE CAUSE of the problem,
it is the the SYMPTOM of another issue.
Take a simple headache for example.
We all want to quickly grab an Advil to get the pain to go away....
but, if we don't understand the CAUSE of the headache,
we are simply masking the problem.
Our highly REACTIVE emotional brain
tricks us sometimes, into thinking
that resisting what hurts or scares us,
is actually the best method.
However, avoidance is the brain's way
of putting off identifying the CAUSE of the pain
when we aren't yet willing or able,
to tackle the hurtful experiences in our lives.
Let's take the pain of a broken relationship.
Yes... it's true that this pain hurts so bad
you feel like you may explode from agony.
AND.. yes, we want to avoid feeling that pain
ever again (rightly so)....
but if the pain is only MASKED
rather than addressed,
statistics show the likelihood of it popping up
in other areas is extremely high....
whether that be your health,
an addiction created to help numb emotions,
or a repeat mistake- thinking the other person was the problem,
only to find yourself in the exact situation again.
Famous Psychologist Carl Jung said that
"What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size."
Unknowingly when we resist something,
we are moving our brain into a DEFENSIVE state of thinking
(giving all the power to the "thing")
in an effort to just avoid it-
rather than moving to an OFFENSIVE state
(taking our own power) to create a well thought-out a plan of attack.
Look at the image below of a man RESISTING
all the weight pushing against the door.
When we are resisting...
ALL of our Energy is spent fighting against the force,
leaving none for ourselves!
In thousands of lives every day...
this is exactly what is happening.
Well meaning people are trying to avoid pain by pushing it away.
But every thought and effort to KEEP IT AWAY
is creating more and more neuron pathways in your brain
(with each and every thought of avoidance).
Hebb's Law of Neuroscience says
"Neurons that fire together wire together" ....
so HOW do you stop resisting
those terrible memories, habits and life situations?
Here are a few steps that will get you started!
The first step to moving your brain into an OFFENSIVE state of healing is to:
1. CLEARLY identify the true problem- even if your problem is drug abuse, that's NOT the real problem, that the the effect of an underlying problem which later turns into an additional physical problem. Ask yourself, "what are you trying to numb, what are you masking, why do you feel you need this?" The answer to THIS.... is the real problem.
2. STOP taking your past issue into your current life. In this country we carry shame and guilt with us almost like a badge of honor. Most studies say that the reason people continue to feel guilt is to remind themselves NEVER to do it again... however, data shows that doesn't work, because the true PROBLEM was never addressed. Find the real issue and FACE it. (Think of your guilt and shame as a bag of rocks.... is carrying it around with you into the present doing anyone any good? All it's doing is making your life HEAVY and keeping you from moving forward with enough energy to help anyone else....
3. FORGIVE yourself or someone else. I have said many times that FORGIVENESS is a gift you give yourself. Mistakingly people think forgiveness means you're weak, or that you've let someone off the hook.... but data shows that people who carry a great deal of anger and unforgiveness have massively higher health related issues. It has been said that being unforgiving is like carrying someone else's poison. It leaves you TOTALLY responsible .
4. CHANGE your perspective. Don't focus on what you lost, or the pain of what could have been, or the anguish of how WRONGED you were. Remember what you focus on grows neuron pathways in your brain. Is that really what you want growing in your head? Begin looking at it through a perspective of WHAT you learned that you could have learned no other way. Maybe it is just how to spot a cheater, or maybe it is the results and pain of drugs, or maybe it is just realizing that you need to give your 25 year old self a break because you cannot judge what you would do NOW with the experience of what you knew then. As Maya Angelou said "WHEN you know better do better!"
Staci is a one-of-a-kind mix of JOY and Neuroscience who is teaching people all over the world to BUILD a BETTER BRAIN by using Gratitude to create a BRIGHTER future. She has a Master's Degree in Educational NEUROSCIENCE and 25 years of teaching experience where she developed a reputation for being able to uncover potential in others like no one else could. Let her teach you how to live a HAPPIER Life by using the neuroscience of GRATITUDE to rewire your brain and build a better future!