Updated: Nov 16, 2020
3 steps to take control of your life & start feeling better now
Step 1: Separate YOU from Your Brain.
You are not your brain—at the same time, your brain is you. It is important to make this distinction to see that you are in control of your brain. Our prefrontal cortex is the most evolved, human thinking part of the brain. It allows us to think critically, plan for the future, and not just be in an emotional, instinctual state of being.
If your dog could think of the future it would stop being sad when you left for work & excited every time you came home. It might think, "I'll see them when they get home in a few hours, so I'll just keep laying here".
The prefrontal cortex allows us to look down on the scenes in our lives objectively, like a fly on the wall. This is a great skill to have (but if you frequently find yourself there unintentionally, that's more like dissociating and can be due to things like anxiety, trauma, and an inability or unwillingness to experience emotions.)
Most of us don’t realize on our own that you don't have to just listen to what your brain tells you, and in many cases, you shouldn't! You should talk to it. Inquire why it's having the thoughts it's having, and tell it what you want it to think.
Step 2:Talk To Yourself
Our brain likes to think it’s reporting the news. Straight facts. It’s not.
We are limited by our perceptions and beliefs, and by becoming aware of this, we can begin to take control of our brain and use it to do what we want and create what we want.
I like to talk to my brain like, “Hey brain, that’s not a useful thought, we’re not going to think that. How about this instead.” Some people go so far as to give their brain its own name, not really my style, whatever works for you.
Dr. James Gills completed two triathlons back to back in his 50's. When asked how he did it he said, "I’ve learned to talk to myself instead of listen to myself."
Most of us have some thoughts that come up frequently that don’t serve us very well. Thoughts like, “I suck at this", “I’m just not that kind of person”, “I can’t do this because, x,y,z.”
Instead, catch yourself and say, “I am learning to do this new thing, it might take a while, that’s ok”, “I haven’t been that kind of person in the past, but I am going to be that kind of person now”, “How can I… ?”
Your brain is an evidence finding machine. By changing the sentences you say to yourself, your brain will start looking for evidence for those thoughts.
If you allow negative thoughts to run uninterrupted, your brain will continue to look for evidence for it. Simply by noticing, pausing, and saying something else —even if you don’t fully believe it yet—will start to make a huge impact.
Step 3: Write Shit Down
Seriously. Use your prefrontal cortex, plan, and write shit down.
Your brain can hold about 3 pieces of information at the same time. When you don’t have stuff written down it creates this constant stress and scattered thinking from knowing that you have stuff that needs to happen, but you don’t know exactly what it entails, or when you’ll do it, or how long it will take. Of course you feel stressed or overwhelmed with all the things, your brain hates uncertainty and discomfort. You don't know what all the things are, but you know you need to do it, and you're certain it's going to be uncomfortable.
When you have a system so that you know you’re not forgetting anything, your brain has much more calm, focus, clarity, and room to think about other things you WANT to think about. Not all the stuff you have to/need to/should do.
Scheduling is a great way to build a relationship with your current self, your future self, and your past self.
Your current self needs to consider what your future self will want. What would make your future self happy? You could just not schedule, but then you’d be right where you are now and the point is to find what really works and to make your life amazing, right?
So If your current self decides scheduling is the best for all of the self's and schedules your future self a day without any breaks, your future self, which would then be your current self, will then be irritated at the past self like, "you’re kind of an ass, your expectations are pretty unrealistic, and you know, I’m just not going to do this."
The lesson here is it's important to consider the different versions of yourself, and build a good relationship between them. A great way to do that is to write stuff down for your future self.
Your brain was made to create what you want, but it can't create what you want if it doesn't have a crystal clear picture of what you actually want.
If you’re willing to fail, learn from everything, and keep taking action, then your chances of success are 100%.