Love Letter #106: Your Brain Has Nothing New to Tell You

It’s a beautiful spring day here. It’s breezy and warm and the sun is shining. Someone is mowing and the scent of fresh cut grass is blowing in through the open window. I’m sitting in front of a blank page with no idea what to write in today’s love letter. 

I’m asking myself, “What am I making this mean?”.  

This morning I was on a call and we were talking about “meaning”. We make meaning of everything. That’s how we navigate this physical existence. We keep ourselves “feeling” safe by labeling, categorizing, and sorting our experiences into good or bad, positive or negative, wanted or unwanted, like or dislike. 

And all those labels, and categorizing and sorting are based on the past. The brain has nothing new to tell you. Just think about that for a minute. The meaning we give to any situation or experience comes from our past. That’s all the brain knows which is why it’s so challenging to do things we’ve never done before. The brain loves familiarity. 

It’s like a file cabinet stuffed with old papers and journals. When we have an experience it looks into the file to find something similar so it can be labeled, recorded, and filed.  We’ve made sense of it. When there’s a record, it attaches it to the experience and puts it in the file. When there is no record an alarm sounds – danger ahead. Stop what you’re doing. 

Staring at the blank page, I feel my stomach tighten. I am anxious. I fear I have nothing to say, that I’m a failure at this…blah, blah, blah. I can feel myself heading down this rabbit hole of self-doubt. At the bottom of the rabbit hole is a familiar old “I’m not good enough, who do you think you are” story. 

I could easily go there. And I know I have a choice to make here. 

As you can see, I chose to write no matter what. But I had to notice my feelings, the emotions coming up… How was my body responding to this? I had to recognize that familiar rabbit hole and consciously chose a different experience. 

Are you following me?

Here are a few tips to create a new experience if you’re heading down a rabbit hole.

  1. Take notice of your feelings. Feelings come from our thoughts not the situation.
  2. Notice what you’re thinking and ask yourself
    Is this thought helpful?
    Do I want to keep this feeling? If you’re feeling tense or constricted in any way, this is probably an
    unhelpful thought. Just saying…
  3. If you don’t want to keep this feeling, can you choose a better feeling thought? A helpful thought.

This sounds simple, but many of us are disconnected from our feelings and those thoughts feel like the truth. It’s okay. I’ve been doing this work for years, and am still peeling away the layers. Be lovingly curious and give yourself grace. 

I decided to remind myself that I’ve written a Love Letter for 105 consecutive days. That’s quite an accomplishment. I know I can write this one. And here it is. 

I love my brain. It’s an amazing organ and a powerful tool. I can use it to imagine and create new experiences with parts of it. It’s also a toddler and likely to get into trouble unless I pay close attention to what it’s thinking.

The brain has nothing new to tell you. It’s up to you to tell it something new. 

With love

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