Sometimes I wonder why people get so upset about what to me, seems like a small thing. Frankly I think it all comes down to too little information. I know, in this era of information overload, that seems almost impossible. And yet, I think we have entered into a time of what I like to call “Just The Headlines Please!” Our quest for input from social media has become overconsuming, but it has now come to light that our ability to absorb information is being reduced. There are talking points. Anything over a limited time period is dismissed. We gloss over so much. Even when I read an article I am completely interested in, I can only read so much before I get bored. And so, the powers that be, have reduced our lives to blurbs and soundbites. As someone with ADHD, I tend to overexplain. We are so afraid of being misunderstood that we explain the same thing thirty different ways. In order to be understood. The problem then is that we lose the attention of our audience. I know this entire argument seems counterintuitive to my initial few statements. But let me explain.
As we become more and more dependant on the absence of depth in our information sources, we actually receive less and less information. You know. The important stuff which explains what is behind the ideas we read about. So we see a blurb either online or perhaps, God forbid, a newspaper, and we take away the idea without the substance. We form an opinion based on very little information. How? If we have limited knowledge how do we come up with an opinion? Our brains. They are so powerful. They just fill in the blanks. The problem is, our brains are filled with whatever we put in before. That information vault we created throughout the years leading to today is just that. A vault. Storage cabinet. Its not just for personal memories. It is where all of our learning throughout our life has been dumped. And dumped is the correct word for so many of us. If you think my house is chaos and cluttered, you should see my mind. In a word…Random. Thoughts and ideas just plunked into the far reaches of my mind never to be seen again. That’s how my brain works. At least when I am trying to control it. But what about when I let it run amok?
Our brains use all of the prior input to make sense of life. We see a ten word opinion piece which sparks some sort of reaction. We are so used to not researching or back checking that we just let our brain fill in the blanks. And it does. With all of the other random stuff that supports the same ideas and views already there. So we pack away the new ten word blip and it cements our views. Even stronger than before. Is it any wonder that young people say old people are set in their ways. It’s habit. Repetition. Its as if we eat only four things every day and eventually the thought of eating anything new, just makes us sick. But what we don’t understand is that our diet has actually created a very unhealthy body. Because our body needs variety. It needs more than just a few sources. Whether it is plants or animals variety is the key to proper nutrition. The rise in food sensitivities has been debated over and over. Overconsumption of the same old same old and increased use of pesticides and fertilizers are two reasons often thought to be culprits in our dietary problems. There is a reason we are told to eat a wide variety of foods. Its good for us. Even domestic greens can cause issues as most plants have some form of defense mechanisms that are used to avoid overconsumption which would lead to the extinction of the plant. Exercise is wonderful but it is also well known that repetition can cause damage which outweighs benefits. Long distance runners have all sorts of physical issues after overdoing it. Young kids who over train in any number of sports can often have injuries that show up years later.
We have all heard the saying “Everything in moderation”. Which is true in all aspects of our life. Not too much and not too little. Like Goldilocks there is a happy medium. That is where things are just right. She elarned thzt the hard way. This completely holds true for our brains. If we want to be our healthiest physically we need to eat and exercise with variety and moderation. If we want to become well rounded mentally we need to practice the same tenets of physical wellness. We need to seek out information rather than passively accept the sound bites that are fed to our lazy minds. We need to explore a variety of sources for information. Most importantly we need to train our minds to think like a child. Where the world holds so much amazement and wonderment that we just want to soak it all in. Seek out strangers who are outside of our comfort zones. Talk to people whose views differ. Talk. Then Listen. Try and see the other side. If you say you believe the science behind vaccines, research the science. Learn about the science. Jam as much knowledge and as many facts and/or ideas into your brains. Meet as many new and diverse people as you can. Learn from them. Jump out of your comfort zone. Try a new game. Sport. Food. Do puzzles. Write a story or a poem. Paint a picture. Draw. Anything. In time you will find your brain is just brimming with information. Our brains are a muscle and need to be exercised but they are the number one obstacle in succeeding in our own lives. Because we just stopped trying so long ago. We rested on our laurels. We decided it was just too hard. Or we accidentally let the internet and growing social media start to rule our thoughts.
It is hard at first to change behaviour but not impossible. The first week of a diet is horrid so we give up. That first day of running is horrible. So we stop. So too with learning and feeding the brain. It is important to realize that small changes are needed in every single aspect of our lives. Don’t diet. Change one habit that you think you can control. Don’t try and run a mile the first day. Run for twenty seconds then walk a couple of minutes. Don’t enroll in a college class. Read a book. Any book. Even romance novels contain information you may not know. There is knowledge all around us. Patterns become habits quickly and habits are hard to break whether they are physical or mental. If we feed our minds, they will be better able to fill in the blanks when we have limited information. Whether it is an emotional or physical response the greater our knowledge, the less traumatic and damaging anxiety to our souls. In time we will seek positivity rather than just allow negative thought patterns. All because one day we decided to get up every day and chose to exercise our minds. In time when someone on the street “looks at you funny” you won’t automatically feel threatened or angry. Your mind will wonder what happened to make that person look so sad or mad or just plain blank. Because let to its own devices, the brain is going to throw some shade on you. No one ever talks to you as horribly as your own mind. Its instinctive for our survival to always be on the lookout for the enemy. This is from thousands of years ago. But today things are different. We don’t need to seek out danger. Always be on high alert. Trust me. I know. That can kill you.
Breathwork and meditation both go a long way in stopping our brains from going to the dark side. Who hasn’t received a text or e-mail that had us questioning the senders intent? How often do we immediately jump to the wrong conclusion. How often do we let the opinions of others feel like personal attacks that we need to defend against? When we calm our minds and seek positive experiences in our lives we will soon see how they impact our minds. Yesterday I had a huge mental breakdown. My son came to stay overnight and when he saw me start to cry he just said “Don’t relive it. Stop Mom.” These same words I have said to him so many times over the past few years. I allowed my brain to take me to a memory and I found comfort in the sadness of the memory. But it is just a memory. My brain thinks its just another new experience. So it reacts as if the painful memory was a new thing. And I followed it down the rabbit hole. Because I let my brain take over. So I wiped my tears, gave my son a hug and had a better evening. We are sometimes so afraid of the world hurting us that we hurt ourselves first. We tell ourselves lies to justify our behaviours. The world is more dangerous today. Is it? Did we look into it? Or did someone say that one day and it fed into our fears of the world? If we don’t feed the brain we stay stuck. I don’t believe I was placed on this earth to suffer. I’m not sure of my purpose but it’s not that.
I wish I could say that I am well on my way to getting my shit together, but I’m not. As I look back over my life I have come to realize that most of the time when someone has hurt me it’s usually not on purpose. Often bad behaviour comes from someone who choses it as a form of self protection. Or just because they want their own way. And who doesn’t like to have things their own way? I’m not just talking kids here either. We all know fully growed people who have to have their own way. But the one thing that I have learned in my life is that I am the one who allowed myself to be hurt. And continued to allow myself to feel hurt. Often because I was confused. Why did someone do what they did? And I let my brain fill in the blanks. I allowed it to blame me. Until one day I realized most peoples actions have nothing to do with me. So now I try and change my brain. And it is so terribly hard. And when I need to I meditate and focus on my breathing. I visualize my mind and body healing and letting go. So now when my brain fills in the blanks, the conclusions are more positive. Because my brain has more to draw upon. My happiest times in my life were when I was a child and teen. As I learn more about myself and the world I understand why those days were good. My brain didn’t blame me. So my goal now is to live life with a childlike mind. Just for today.