Welcome to Unf*ck Your Brain, the only podcast that teaches you how to use psychology, feminism, and coaching, to rewire your brain and get what you want in life. And now here’s your host, Harvard law school grad, feminist rockstar, and master coach, Kara Loewentheil.
Hello my chickens. So, I know that I said that the last episode in the Turning Panic Into Peace mini-series was going to be the last one and 10 is a nice even number, but I have been thinking about all of you, since that’s all I do. Think about – not all I do, but I spend a lot of time, of course, thinking about my students and my listeners and what I want to teach them and how I want to help and what I can offer.
And I’ve been thinking a lot about how this series kind of felt unfinished to me, and it felt like there was one more thing I needed and wanted to teach you. So it’s possible that I’ve touched on this in previous ones, but I think that it deserves its own episode.
So in number 10, I talked about how – let’s think about it this way. There’s three different ways of seeing this circumstance, the pandemic, or any circumstance. Let’s say one is negative, one is neutral, and one is positive. And I spent several episodes, of course, coaching you about all of the negative thoughts you have about the pandemic or anything else. It’s all the same. Thought work is always the same.
So we spent a lot of time working on that, like, how do we get out of the negative. And then I think that the last episode in particular where I talked kind of like, this is your life, this is your one life, and thinking about life being on hold or sort of resisting how life is is so counterproductive, and all we ever have is the time we have and how do we want to show up for it.
And I think of that as almost kind of neutral actually. I mean, yes, it has a positive bend a little bit, but kind of the this is how things always are, we don’t have control and we can only control how we want to show up, that’s actually kind of neutral to me. That’s the neutral reality. Not saying it’s bad, not saying it’s good, just saying this is what there is, how do we want to show up for it.
I find that empowering and like a positive thought, but it is still kind of landing in this neutrality of nothing has changed, things are always the way they are. And that’s always true, and yet we also can choose to think something even more positive if we want.
And that’s where this episode comes in because I’ve been a little bit sick over the past several weeks and based on where I live and having mild symptoms, I have no idea what it was and may never know. But one of the things that I would think about when my brain started to freak out was that of course, as I’ve been teaching, we don’t control the moment of our death. We never know when it is.
But that if that were to happen to me – and I used to think about this, of course, before COVID too. You could get hit by a car. You could fall off a ladder changing a lightbulb. Anything can happen. That I would know that I’ve lived the life I want and that I’m proud of the life I’ve had, and that I’ve done the things I wanted to do in life.
Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t more things I want to do. Of course, there are, but that in every area of my life, I feel like I have had the meaningful experiences and relationships that I want to have and I’ve kind of lived my life fully and with purpose and with intention and with delight and with gusto.
And then I was thinking that that’s such a comforting thought for me, but that that thought isn’t necessarily available to everyone because I don’t think that everyone is living their life that way. And so it made me think about the idea that crisis can be disruptive and it can be upheaval, but it can also be the generation and germination of something new and something more in line with whatever the life it is you want to lead.
So you often talk to people who had a near-death experience, or lost someone very close to them, or had some massive failure in their life happen, or some massive catastrophe, and the ones who kind of are resilient and bounce back, what you hear all the time I think is, “It really clarified for me what’s important. It helped me see what I wanted to do with my life. It showed me I have no time to waste. It showed me all the bullshit doesn’t matter. It showed me that it wasn’t too late to change. It showed me that I needed to take control of having and creating the life that I want.”
And I think that this pandemic can be that for us. I think that all of this disruption and change and the world’s circumstances altering so drastically can be an invitation to stop and take stock of our lives. Are we living the lives we want? And if not, why not? And spoiler alert, the answer is always your thoughts.
We all think it’s external circumstances. I don’t have the life I want because I’m not good enough, because I didn’t go to the right schools, because I can’t make enough money, because I can’t find a partner, because I had the wrong parents, because whatever. 100,000 reasons we have.
And we can always change our thoughts to love the lives that we currently have and I highly recommend doing that, because you can’t change anything positively from a place of dissatisfaction. But if you allow a crisis or a change or a disruption or a pause in your life to be an opportunity for reflection and an opportunity for looking inward and an opportunity for taking a moment to look at your life honestly and to look at your mind and to look at your relationships and to see what it is you want to be and experience and create in this world and where you aren’t doing that, I think that that’s such an incredibly opportunity.
And you know, the thing about opportunity is sometimes they don’t come looking like opportunities. You get broken up with by the person you thought was the partner of your dreams, that’s not an opportunity you were looking for, but if you’re willing to be present and honest with it, it can be an opportunity to see the ways in which that relationship obviously wasn’t working the way you thought it was, and what was your part in that, and what kind of different kind of relationship do you want to have in the future.
We always have that opportunity for learning. And so some of us may be having a pretty consistent quarantine experience. Maybe we always worked from home, or our job is not in danger and things are not that different for us, still an opportunity. And those of us who are having a very different experience right now, even more of an opportunity.
So rather than sort of immediately go into scarcity and constriction thinking of like, “Well, not only was I not having the life I wanted before, but now is the worst time to make it better. Now I just have to hustle and scrap for survival and just try to get through this and freak out about dying,” and spiral in these negative thoughts, what if we take this opportunity, this crisis as a moment to clarify what we want in life and how we’re going to go about creating it?
I think that those near-death experiences or those moments when everything changes, moments when what’s really important to us become so clear are not something to be ignored. And they’re not something to be turned away from. And I think that we often turn away from them because we’re afraid and we don’t believe that we can have what it takes to create the life we want.
But you do all have what it takes because all of it has to come from your mind. Just think – really think about anything in the world that has ever been created. Anything. From the first person who figured out how to make fire, to the first person who made the wheel, to the person who figured out how to make the pyramids, to electricity, to penicillin, to the internet.
All of it. The Taj Mahal. Every big, grand accomplishment that humans have had has come from just a thought in someone’s mind. I think this thing is possible. No one has done it before, everyone else may disagree with me, but I believe it’s possible and I’m going to do what it takes to make it happen.
And I want for each of you that experience in your own life. Now, it doesn’t have to be a grand public monument. It can be anything. Maybe it’s growing your own garden. Maybe it’s finding the kind of relationship you want. Maybe it is a grand public monument. Whatever it is, it’s not about the size of the endeavor.
It’s about believing that if you harness the potential of your human mind, which is the most powerful thing in the world, the most unlimited resource, the most underestimated and under-utilized resource, the most powerful thing we have, the human mind. If you harnessed your human mind, that you can create what you want in your life.
So to me, that is what thought work is all about. That is why this is the most important work in the world and the most important thing you can spend your time, your energy, and your resources investing in. Because I want all of you to have that same thought that I do, that I have lived the life that I want.
And you can listen to this podcast and you can feel inspired and then you’ll just go back to the way that things were. And that’s not because there’s something wrong with you. It’s not a bug. It’s a feature of the human mind is that if you don’t learn how to manage it on purpose and practice it consistently, no amount of insight or inspiration or chills up your spine is actually going to change your life.
I wish that were not the case. It would be awesome if insight and inspiration and chills translated into true transformation, but they don’t, and it’s one of the reasons that people stay stuck living lives they don’t want for so long, because they don’t understand that.
Because they think, “Well, I keep having an insight that I want to do this thing or I want to have this result in my life or I want to have this kind of relationship or I want to make this kind of money, or I want to impact and contribute to the world in this way, but it just doesn’t happen so I guess I’m not good enough or it’s not really meant to be, or it’s too hard.”
And it’s none of that shit. It’s that you don’t know how to manage your mind and take massive action and create the life you want piece by piece. You don’t have the blueprint. You don’t have the tools. And that’s not a moral failing. It’s nothing about you. Your brain is working the way it’s supposed to.
Your brain is supposed to conserve energy and stay inside the cave where it’s safe. And everybody who has done something in the world that mattered to them, big or small, has had to learn how to overcome doubt, overcome inertia, overcome self-sabotage, literally rewire their brains and change the way that they think so that they can change the way that they act.
I have never discovered another way and I have tried a lot of other ways. So I really want to invite you to see this crisis, this change, this disruption as an invitation and as an opportunity. Yes, on some level, things have always been this way. We never know what’s coming. All we can control is how we want to show up.
And we can also choose to see this as an amazing turning point, an opportunity, the point in our lives where we decided to stop caring about the bullshit and really put our minds to work in creating the life that we want. Because even if nothing is guaranteed to you, even if you have a day or a week or a year or a decade, whatever it is, hopefully many left on earth, do you want to spend it on autopilot or do you want to spend it intentionally engaged in pushing yourself and growing and showing up and trying and living the life that you want to as best you can?
It’s a work in progress, it’s not a destination. And I want all of you to have that belief and that experience to fall back on, that whatever comes, you have done what you could. You have put in the work. You have lived fully on purpose.
And that, for most of us, requires learning how. It doesn’t come naturally. It certainly did not to me. So that is why thought work is the secret to life for me. It changed my life in all of those ways. Five years ago, I would not have been able to say the same thing. I would not have been able to believe the thought, “I’ve lived the life I wanted. I’ve done the things I wanted to do. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and how I’ve shown up and the person I’ve become.”
That’s not a thought I could have believed five years ago. And the fact that it is is due to thought work and is due to learning these tools to actually set goals for myself, change the way I was thinking and be able to accomplish them. And that’s what I want for all of you.
So if this episode resonated with you, then I want you to consider coming to join us in The Clutch, where I can teach you the tools you need to truly be able to create and embody that life you want, instead of living on autopilot. When I look back at my high school yearbook, my senior yearbook page – actually, I don’t have it with me because I’m not at home, but there was a quote there that was something about the question always is how do we live life with intention? What is the good life? And how do we make it happen?
And I think that this work is the answer to that question. And the way to learn it is to come and join us in The Clutch. Because if there’s one thing I know, it’s that right now, you can’t imagine what your life can be. My job is to be able to help you imagine that, hold that vision for you, and teach you how to create it. I know it’s possible for you and you just have to trust me that it is too. So come check it out. Unfuckyourbrain.com/theclutch, and I’ll see you there.
If you’re loving what you’re learning in the podcast, you have got to come check out The Clutch. The Clutch is my feminist coaching community for all things Unfuck Your Brain. It’s where you can get individual help applying all these concepts I teach to your own life and learning how to do thought work to blow your own mind.
It’s where you can learn new coaching tools not shared on the podcast that will change your life even more. It’s where you can hang out and connect over all things thought work with other podcast chickens just like you and me. It’s my favorite place on earth and it will change everything, I guarantee it.
Come join us at www.unfuckyourbrain.com/theclutch. Or you can just text your email address to 347-934-8861. If you text your email address to that number, we’ll text you right back with a link to check out everything you need to know about The Clutch. 347-934-8861 or again, just go online to www.unfuckyourbrain.com/theclutch. I cannot wait to see you there.