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The difference between the "Truth" and wanting to be right

Spam Filter For Your Brain - Episode 53

We're quite often told that we shouldn't try and put our energy and our efforts into trying to get other people to change. And I think most of us read and understand this to mean there is no point doing it because it won't happen.

Although I do actually agree with that to quite a large degree, I think it's also worth peeling back the layers a little bit and going, do we want people to change in the first place? Quite often, the reason why we want people to change is so that we can think a particular thing about them so that we can feel a particular thing about ourselves or about them.

So, if we were to put this into a little flowchart, it would be we want them to change what they're saying or doing or being so that we can feel something different.

And the reality is that someone else can't make us feel anything because our feelings come from our thoughts. Now, if you're new to this podcast, or you're new to my work, that might feel like a brain-breaking concept, the idea that other people can't make us feel things. But our emotions are sensations in our body that come from thoughts in our head. And someone literally can't pop open your skull and generate electricity to fire between two particular neurones. I always think of it like the old school playground or sort of school science laboratory and some old cartoon-style people with almost soldiering irons like, "We got to make that bit fire off in their heads".

It's simply impossible for someone else to cause electricity to fire off in our heads. Electricity fires off in our heads because of what we're thinking. And sometimes that can sound a bit blamey, like, well, you can't choose what you think, can you? It's just the things that you think. But actually, we can choose what we think quite often. We can choose to think all sorts of things. Like, we can just decide that we're going to go to the cupboard and get a bag of crisps, or we could decide that we're going to go and meet one of our friends, or we can decide that we're going to return a text message, or we can decide that we're going to go and have a shower. We can decide to go and learn Spanish today or whatever it is that we can choose what we're going to think.

But there's a whole load of other layers of thoughts that come from our family, come from society, come from our background, come from our cultural identity, come from things that have been pushed on us, comes from our schooling, all sorts of other people who've been writing scripts that we have absorbed and taken on as our own. And some of these thoughts all just get muddled up, and we think of these thoughts as facts. And so when we are trying to untangle what is our thoughts and what are the thoughts that have been planted, embedded by other people, it can all just get really messy.

It's sort of a shortcut that our brain creates rather than trying to work out whether this is true or whether it's not. "Is this bit okay?" "Is this bit safe?" "Has this bit been planted by somebody else?" "Is it an invader?" It's probably easier for your brain to put it all under the umbrella of "that's the truth". And the reality is that our brains are not always full of the truth. And we know that from countless examples of that time, we thought that person was thinking that thing about us, and it turns out we were completely off the mark. Or that time that we were absolutely convinced that we couldn't do something and actually turned out to be a lot easier than we thought it would be. Or that time that we thought we absolutely wouldn't get that role position relationship. And here we are swanning it years later, forgetting that it was even a thing to try and work out whether it would be possible for someone like us or not.

All of these thoughts come out as sort of banded, as truths in our brain. Because when our brain thinks something is true when it thinks that it is right, it thinks that it is safe.

So all of these thoughts kind of come together like, "Oh, okay, this is the fact and the reality and the truth of the world. And so, that's just the way that it is". And when we think that that's just the way things are, of course, we don't think that we can change it. Of course, we don't think we can add new information or make any choices about where we want to steer things.

That's why I think it's important to begin to put your brain, your assessment, your analysis of situations under the microscope and keep coming back to the question, like, "Is that true?" "Can I absolutely know that that's true?" "Are there any other opinions that could be possible here?" Just looking at the things that we think that don't make us feel good. Just checking out whether they're things that are actually serving us, whether they're actually useful, and, of course, whether they're actually honest.

Because we have the ability not to wipe out and obliterate thoughts that we don't like but sort of layer slight improvements on top, I think of it a bit like layering on coats of paint. The more layers of moving slightly towards where you want to be, the deeper, the richer the colour gets. So it could be that your initial thought could be, "Oh, I don't think I'm good enough for that". And maybe a slight step up from that is, "Oh, I notice that. I'm thinking I'm not good enough for that". And then a slight step up from that could be there are things "I think I am good enough for", and maybe a step up from there could be "there have been times where I've been good enough for stuff in the past". And on top of that, you could paint, "I have noticed that I don't always think things that are in my best interest, and I've been proved wrong in the past". And then you could perhaps step closer towards thinking, "I would like to think that I am good enough for this".

And suppose you were to slowly start trying to move your way towards thinking that being good enough for something was a possibility. In that case, you're going to have a lot more of an enjoyable outcome than just thinking that something isn't possible for you. And slowly, these thoughts take practice and time. This is what I teach in as a methodology, and we learn about how we can embed these thoughts into our lives and learn this as a practice. But I think that it is so important to notice where we do this when it comes to our relationships and when it comes to other people.

Because if you think, "Oh, that person's doing that thing just to piss me off, " you'll probably not enjoy their company very much. Whereas if you could take one step back and think, "Oh, there's a chance that they're doing that thing because they've got their own stuff going on", or "There's a chance that I'm not on their mind at all, they're just trying to work out their own stuff". Or "there's a chance that they just forgot that I was part of this equation". Or "There is a chance that they are trying to do the best they can with the stuff they know".

All of these thoughts sort of build up and layer up and ladder into an idea that maybe, possibly, the person doesn't have your ill intent at heart. Because I find that it's actually really rare that people go absolutely out of their way to hurt another person. Quite often, they're just involved in their own stories. But when we get convinced that other people should change what they're doing, what they're saying, what they're thinking, so that we can feel a particular way, we're handing them all of our agency. We could just take our own agency back by working out what we want to feel about a situation if they did do the stuff we want them to do and then try and work out what someone who would be feeling may be thinking.

The more we can move towards those thoughts, the more that we can generate the emotions that we were hoping for in the first place. So this is the way that we take our own stories back, and this is the way that we stop handing over all of our power and agency to people who may or may not be just really irritating us at the moment. Gaining more of a control over our own journey and be able to make more decisions about how we feel about the life that we're living.

This episode has been lots of brain-breaking ideas or lots of embedding ideas that you may have already heard from me before. But it is a really good, solid foundation in just trying to work out how you can stop waiting for other people to change because they're probably not going to and not at the timetable that you want them to. But you have the capacity to change how you feel about the stuff they're doing, and you can change how you think about what's going on in your interaction. This all lies within your hands.

If you'd like to learn more about how to do it, obviously join one of the courses.

I'll be telling you more about the latest one that we're doing in a minute, and I enjoy hearing about your little ladder steps and your little intermediary thoughts.

Do drop me a little line with any of the ones that have come up for you. It's always really nice to hear them and see how we can all build on this stuff together. I look forward to speaking to you next week.


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