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Brain Chatter Does Not Mean You Are Weird or Broken

Updated: Jun 1

Spam Filter For Your Brain - Episode 79

Something that I wish that we were all taught a lot younger than I ever found it out was the idea that having constant brain chatter is not a sign of a weakness or a failure. It doesn't mean that you're weird or broken. It's actually something that most of us have going on all of the time. There are definitely some neurodivergent folk who don't have constant monologues narrating everything that we do. Quite often, folk who don't have those monologues have different things, like seeing shapes or patterns or pictures or many other things that can be going on for people. The majority of us have a sort of inner critic who is constantly judging and telling us where we are getting things wrong, where we're not good enough, and where all of this stuff is frankly pointless because we're not going to get it right.

And when you have this constant background noise, it can be quite disconcerting to go out there and live your life and try to give things your all. And I think one of the reasons why this feels really uncomfortable for so many of us is, firstly, because the fire is coming from within the house, the voice is coming from within us, so we think that it is our own, but also because so few people talk about it. You don't often hear people talking about how they have this sort of sneaking, underlying suspicion that everything that they do is a little bit rubbish or they're not good enough for it. Even though I think that most people genuinely think that, And even if I didn't hold that as an opinion, certainly in the majority of coaching sessions I do, you scratch the surface and you peel back two or ten or 20 layers and underneath it is like, "I'm frightened that I'm not good enough". It's a huge root of a lot of our problems.

And I'm not here this week to try and tell you why that isn't true, much as I'd love to give you a magic wand for that. Come to one of the coaching calls; you can learn it for yourself. But actually, I just want to park a little bit of ease into it to go. You're really by no means on your own. Actually, it is more common than uncommon to have this kind of thing going on in our heads all the time. And it also explains quite a lot, I think, why so many of us are so tired the whole time because we're having to battle against this to get anything done.

I think most of us do have it. I mean, my counsellor only this week referred to it as the shitty committee, which I quite like. I always think of it as the brain gremlins or internalised nonsense is how I normally call it. And then, sometimes, when my brain is being particularly unhelpful in the mirror, I actually call her Susan. I just find it really useful to chat back to her. I walk past the mirror and my brain will pop out a really useful sentence like that looks terrible on you and I found it really useful to talk back with like, "Nice one, Susan, that was really helpful. Anything else you've got to contribute to this conversation?" like bringing in some well-calculated British sarcasm, I found an incredibly effective weapon to use against internalised patriarchal beauty standards. Take that if you find it useful, apply it to your own life. Let me know what your brain gremlin is going to be called. No offence to all the Susans out there; I know some lovely my favourite people are Susans.

Just thinking about how this little constant voice in your head undermining your overreaction is going to impact your energy levels might give you a little bit of respite from telling yourself that you're getting things wrong. I think sometimes it isn't even having these sentences pop up in our brains that is the problem; it's then the fact that we judge them that adds a whole load of exhaustion and an extra layer of murk that we have to wade through to try and get back to ourselves and get things back on track. And maybe just knowing that your brain isn't trying to do it to attack you or to be mean; it's simply the stuff that has been programmed into it to make us feel like we're safe. Your brain genuinely thinks that if you were an exact version of some billboard beautiful patriarchal capitalist white beauty standards, you'd probably be more safe. Your brain probably thinks that if you were in a particular type of relationship or if your friends wanted to hang out with you in a particular way, or if you had a particular number of likes on social media, you would be safer than you are right now. If you had that promotion, if you had that money, if you had that thing. Your brain is trying to find ways that it has been taught and programmed, which are the markers of the way that you're going to be safer in your world.

And so when we can see that this is just stuff that has been taught and our brain is doing the best that it can to try and keep us alive, it is sometimes easier to sort of scoop it up and go like, "Hey, I see what you're doing right there. When it sounds like you're yelling at me, you were just frightened. And can we just turn down some of the criticism a little bit today and try something different?" How would you like to be treated when someone noticed and knew that you were lashing out because you were actually frightened? That's the way that I try and treat my brain when she's being quite mean to me and I find it really useful. What comfort can I give her rather than just trying to shut it down and or add judgment on top of it that I should know better than this?

I hope that there are some ways that you could sit and think about how you could soothe yourself and how you would want to be treated if you were feeling like maybe you needed to fight for your very survival at every moment. What could bring more kindness to you? And how could you apply that to the way that you speak to your own brain, the way that you chat back to it, the way that you nurture it?

I hope this has been useful, and I look forward to speaking to you next week.


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