Have you ever been to a business where one of the lower level employees is clearly way out of line? Please don’t get hung up on gender stereotypes here, but I want to paint a picture of a hypothetical scenario. Let’s say you go into a little business, and you are greeted by the admin. We’ll call her Mildred. She is middle aged and dresses in very loud colors, but her style is very outdated. You immediately notice that she’s friendly and wants to be helpful, but there’s something about her that’s a bit off-putting. You’re meeting with the big boss, but she’s not quite ready yet, so Mildred offers you a chair in the waiting room which is just a few feet from her desk. While you wait, you have a few more minutes to observe our lovely Ms. Mildred. She clearly works hard and is quite efficient. She furiously types away on her computer and rapidly files papers into the file cabinets behind her. But the longer you watch her, the more off-putting she becomes. The woman is good at her job, but she’s just lacking in wisdom and discretion. She makes loud comments that really aren’t appropriate whenever people pass her desk. She cracks jokes that aren’t funny and she gives instructions to everybody, even high level executives. That might be the most off-putting thing. She clearly doesn’t know her place. This becomes even more apparent when the big boss appears. She comes out to meet you, and as she approaches, Mildred loudly says, “Well I’m glad you finally decided to show up for work!” Then as the boss passes by her desk, Mildred smacks her on the back and says, “I’ve told you that you need to work on that bad posture!” It only gets worse from there. The big boss brings you into her office, and uninvited, Mildred marches right in too. She sits in the corner and throughout the entire meeting, she interrupts the conversation and gives advice to the big boss. She (the boss) seems annoyed, but the weird thing is that she doesn’t do anything about it! She even seems to take what Mildred says seriously. Not only does she take Mildred seriously, but she even engages her interruptions and consults her for advice! You can see the absolute ridiculousness of this situation, but the boss seems completely blind to it.
Ok, now let’s go back to you. Your brain is a lot like dear Ms. Mildred. It really is quite intelligent and efficient, and at the end of the day, it means well and wants to be helpful. However, in spite of all its intelligence, it is not wise or discrete at all. Not only is it unwise, but it has absorbed all of the psychology that you’ve acquired through the years (helpful and unhelpful), and it factors that psychology into all of its thought processes. And because in modern culture, we’ve believed the lie that we are our brains and our thoughts, our brains have WAY overstepped their bounds. They like to feel like they are running the show, and we believe that they are running the show, but it just isn’t true. And guess who you are in this scenario. You’re the big boss! Unlike the big boss in our story, you can’t just fire your brain. However, you can see it for what it is. And that my friend, changes everything.
Your brain is a tool designed to help you to file memories and information and to solve small problems like “where I might have left my keys last night.” For the big things in life, you are being lived by that source of love, wisdom, and resilience that we talked about last week. Your brain’s ideas and commentary are just worthless jibber jabber. But the good news is that no matter how much your brain talks, you never have to take it seriously, and the less you care about what your brain says, the more it gets the idea and quiets down.