Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself Part I

Ever taken a look at your life and thought, "This could be better."

Maybe it's the job you have, the attitude you embody, your personality, your finances, your body, or your relationships.

Have you ever noticed that you organize your life in predictable ways that spawn predictable results?

Maybe you've heard the quote by Einstein that says, "Problems can't be solved with the same thinking that created them."? 

I've been pondering this alot lately, especially after my year plus of re-training my brain to come out of chronic fight or flight and into relax and thrive mode.

It's a funny thing to have experienced chronic illness and fatigue for the better part of 6 years, trained the body via the brain to stop freaking out all the time so it can devote that energy to healing, and then find myself looking around going, "Ok. I'm not in panic mode anymore. What do I want to CREATE?! How GOOD can I imagine life actually being?"

This is not an exploration of the trauma spectrum and the steps needed to exit that vicious neural cycle that impacts every physical, emotional, and spiritual aspect of life.

This IS a moment to consider what to do when we finally have the freedom and SPACE to start creating something more conscious than the same-old, same-old habitual lives we so often inhabit.

Case in point: I have been dreading waking up every morning since having a child. Now that I have more energy than I have had since he was born, you might think I would begin to feel neutral or even pleased at waking up, but nope.

Still, the lingering, "Damnit." every time I start to feel the light sneak through the curtains and the inevitable hollering, "MAMA!!! OH MAMA!!!" emanating from my dear child's bedroom.

You parents out there may laugh at this in solidarity and recognition, but I'm tired of being frustrated first thing in the morning.

A sometimes fix to this is if I have something super fun to look forward to, but it isn't always a slam dunk antidote.

So here's the deal. This dread, which started because I was a new, sleep-deprived mama who didn't know what the hell to do with myself or a baby, has become a habit. A habit my body now knows better than my conscious mind. All I need to do is rinse and repeat.

Check it out.

This is essentially neuroscience and brain training 101. The formula is simple.

Have an experience that conjures up a particular chemical cocktail of signals that produce a particular emotion. (FYI-your emotions are just that-chemical cocktails released by your brain that have special effects on your body)

The stronger the experience, the stronger the emotion. 
The stronger the emotion, the more energy goes to growing new neural pathways in the brain that reproduce this emotion. 
The bigger the neural pathways, the more they want to be fed. 

And the brain, in its willingness to please, starts matching as many external events to that pathway as possible.

So let's say that you have a horrendous experience in childhood where your mother was extremely mean and abusive to you. This experience caused your brain to produce the chemicals of the emotions we call fear and anxiety.

Because you lived with your mother and had supporting experiences to this initial trauma over the years, your neural pathway of fear and anxiety was regularly fed and even enlarged.

By the time you hit 35 your personality is pretty much set in place and a large percentage of your traits and behaviors have been effectively hardwired into your brain. 

MEANING-You will find yourself doing a huge number of the same things every day without thinking about them. Your body is now smarter than your brain and has taken over the controls of getting you through the day.

This includes everything from how you get out of bed to how you talk to your family and co-workers.

So unless you have done some major conscious shifting of your story about who you are, chances are good that you will interpret most everything through the lenses of the fear and anxiety mentioned earlier.

I give you exhibit A.

Your boss comes in and calls a meeting. Your brain immediately starts whirring through all the potentially devastating things that could be said or done at this meeting by your boss. He could fire you all. He could fire just you. He could ask you to work double shifts over the holidays. You get the picture.

That initial experience from childhood of feeling fearful and anxious has become the lens through which you view the world, courtesy of your pattern-recognizing beast of a brain.

And you aren't even aware of it.

Da-da-DAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh. -thunder crashes-

Let's come back to the dreaded morning wake up calls.

Here I have a clearly memorized pattern of mornings=being asked to show up no matter how I feel or what I want. I could simplify this and say: mornings=Jaime is a victim.

So I ask myself, "Do you want to be a victim? Is this what you want your life to be about?"

That's an easy no. But then what?

Well, I've already taken the first steps.

I know I have the habit, I can admit I have the habit...now how do I BREAK the habit?

Stay tuned for episode II to find out!

Want to learn more about this subject? Check out Dr. Joe Dispenza's book, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself

It's the bomb.





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