After my last posting, (Just be curious, good advice for the female brain), I received some feedback that leads me to believe there is more to be said on this topic. As was pointed out to me, it is all well and good to bring yourself out of your emotional brain and into your prefrontal cortex….however, your “monkey mind” will not always allow you to stay in a calm and dispassionate place. “Monkey mind” is a Buddhist term that refers to the constant chatter our mind engages in seemingly against our will. Unfortunately “monkey” chatter is often negative, self sabotaging inner dialog, and it seems relentlessly intent on finding all evidence possible that our lives and our very selves are worthless and catastrophic. “Monkey mind” is quicksilver fast, and will be merciless in its ability to draw upon our vast reservoir of negative core beliefs and assumptions. So, there you are back in your emotional limbic brain. So, what do you do now? Here is one exercise you might try. It has several steps, so don’t leave any of them out!
- When you find yourself caught up in one of these inner dialogs that is going around in circles and ending up in the same place, first just STOP…I mean just tell yourself to stop, either out loud or silently.
- Try to identify the negative core belief underlying what you are telling yourself. The belief could be for example, “I’m just always so stupid, or “I never stick up for myself”…(“always” and “never” are key tip offs to negative core beliefs)To begin to dissolve this belief, its important to examine it carefully. I like to use the “Inquiry” process developed by Byron Katie, called “The Work”. Here’s how to do it:
(a) Ask yourself, “Is this belief really true, and how do I really know its true?
(b) At this point, you will hopefully come to the conclusion that you can’t really know that its true, (you can really know much of anything is true), and you can imagin who you might be without that belief…so you are ready to–
(d) Gather all the evidence you can find, past and present, that actually supports the opposite belief to this one…and visualize yourself in as many situations as you can where you are this version of yourself!..that is the version that does not have the toxic belief. Some situations might have happened, maybe some didn’t…but it doesn’t matter…the brain does not care.
What I propose is that the brain will eventually accept whatever version of your story you decide you want to give it. The key is to present a new story, and reprogram your mind over, and over, and over again..but don’t take my word for it…try it yourself