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Are There Hecklers in Your Brain?

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Once we're content with who we are and what we have, we experience a lot more joy.

When families finish their Brain Highways midbrain course, we ask the parents to list all the ways their kids have changed since first starting their brain organization. The list is always long and full of wonderful changes.

But sometimes, the parent ends that list by noting what still hasn’t changed—even though the question doesn’t ask for that information (since everyone knows the brain organization is not complete at that point in time).

So, I often find myself sighing because that last sentence reminds me how we seem to create what I’ve come to think of as a cluster of “scarcity highways” in our brain. I picture this as a group of neural connections that continually perpetuate the illusion that . . . we are never enough, or we never have enough of something. Think how many unproductive thoughts reflect this kind of thinking:

  • I’m not smart enough.
  • I’m not pretty enough.
  • I’m not thin enough.
  • I don’t have enough money.
  • I don’t have enough time for myself.
  • My house isn’t big enough.
  • My boyfriend isn’t nice enough.
  • My essay isn’t good enough.

The list goes on.

Yet, this “not enough” cluster of highways is crazy because we’ve created this fiction. But since the brain has no clue what’s real or not, it just believes whatever we tell it.

For example, we may make $50,000 a year, but if we don’t believe that’s a “good enough” income, we may even quit a job we actually like in search of something more lucrative.

Yet, even if the new job pays more, we’re still going to it with the same scarcity cluster that we had at the old job. So, once again, those neural networks will light up as soon as we think the new job isn’t close enough to home or this boss isn’t organized enough or our office space isn’t big enough—and more.

Of course, something has to trigger this cluster, and I’ve come to imagine two kinds of hecklers as the main culprits. There are the judging hecklers, who keep telling us how we’ve somehow fallen short, and there are the comparison hecklers, who keep pointing out how we’re lacking what someone else already has. Both hecklers constantly pick on us, always pointing out how we are just not good enough.

But, again, we’re the ones who write this fiction. We’re the ones who make up the stories where we believe we truly lack something within ourselves or something we need. Yet if we’re the author, then why not write a whole new story . . . with a happier ending?

If you’re interested in doing just that, here are some simple ways to get started.

1. Bounce the hecklers.

Honestly, if we’d just silence those hecklers (okay, why be polite) . . . if we’d just tell our brain hecklers to “Shut up!” then that cluster would be toast. Simply, a scarcity cluster depends on and thrives on our brain believing what others tell us is the absolute truth.

2. Create a new cluster of “abundance” highways.

So instead of thinking our house isn’t “big enough,” we focus on what we already have. And then . . . wow. Suddenly, we appreciate the roof and walls that keep the rain and wind and snow out of our home, the running hot and cold water that we turn on or off whenever we want, the warm bed we crawl into every night, the lights that go on with a flick of a switch, and more. 

3.  Ignore the negative influencers.

These aren’t just Grandma Mildred (who’s known for her harsh criticism) or our dad (who always reminds us that our sister makes twice the amount of money that we do). Such influencers also masquerade in the media as daily messages on television and the internet that tell us we’re not thin enough, not healthy enough, not savvy enough, not hip enough, and more.  And if that weren’t enough, the 24-hour news cycle continually reminds us of this: Anything bad can happen–at any moment—so we’re never safe enough.

4. Savor joy when you feel it.

When we don’t feel safe enough, we greatly reduce our ability to feel joy. That’s because even when things are going well, we immediately start imagining some impending disaster, just around the corner. Yet, as soon as we do that, bam!  We zap the joy right out of the moment.

So, what do you think? Do people all over the world have scarcity clusters in their brain?

I’m not so sure. Many, many moons ago I lived in the jungles of Mexico and Central America with people who most would deem as truly having very little. Yet, in all my interactions with them, I don’t ever recall anyone saying he or she didn’t have enough of anything.  In fact, these people seemed so grateful for whatever they did have.

I also remember the results of a study that one of my college professors conducted in the shanty towns of Tijuana. The researchers studied how the Tijuana kids—who owned no toys (this was long before electronic devices were available) or sports equipment or board games—“played.” They then compared the Tijuana kids to kids in the United States, who grew up with lots of toys, equipment, and board games.

Hands down, the kids from the Tijuana shanty towns outshined the American kids. Time and time again, they demonstrated incredible creative, imaginative, resourceful, and joyful play that the American kids never even came close to showing.

Of course, we don’t have to live in a jungle or shanty town to understand this bottom line:

We can write any story we want in our brain—and most of all, we don’t need anyone’s approval to edit one that hasn’t been serving us well.

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