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. How are you? I am having the human experience today. I will tell you what, I have been experiencing and processing a lot of emotion recently and it’s such a fascinating experience doing this now at my current stage of thought work, which in terms of a lifetime, I’m still something of a beginner, but I’m so far from where I was when I started.
And negative emotion used to feel so overwhelming and horrible to me that I would do whatever I could to get away from it and try to escape it, which of course never works long term. It always catches up with you.
And now, I’m not saying I don’t still have a human brain that is not that excited about negative emotion sometimes, but now when I am able to open myself up to experience it, I can really feel how it flows cleanly through me when I’m not resisting it. And it really comes in waves.
I think when we are resisting and avoiding emotion, what we imagine is that if we let it in or we sort of experience it, it’s going to feel that way forever. But of course, in reality, if you’re allowing your emotion, that’s not what happens. My experience is that it really comes in waves.
So, I might feel really sad and cry and then that will pass, and I’ll feel okay for a bit. Not necessarily amazing and ecstatic. That happens occasionally, but just okay. Like I can carry on with my day, the surface of the water clearing after it rains.
Then another wave comes, I need to allow that, and I have some time on the other side. There’s a cycle, there’s a rhythm to it. There’s intensity but there’s also recovery. I had a student in The Clutch ask me recently how you know when you’re done processing an emotion. It was such a good question.
And my answer to her was you know because it passes and then you feel calm. You don’t feel amazing necessarily, but you feel basically okay. The sadness or grief or anger, whatever it is, it’ll crust, it’ll peak, it’ll be very intense, and it’ll run through your body. You’ll stop crying or the heat in your face will go down or whatever it is.
If an emotion just won’t change, if it feels just kind of heavy and suffocating and it never peaks and it never valleys and it never flows through, then you’re probably resisting it, not experiencing it. When you’re in the middle of a painful experience, it doesn’t feel like a super fun time.
But there’s so much learning there because you are getting such a good view of how your brain can ricochet around and how you can feel completely differently about the same circumstance, depending on what thought you’re thinking at any given moment.
That’s something I’ve really been seeing so clearly in my current stuff that I’m processing in my own life is that when I’m able to let emotion flow, then I’m able to observe my mind and how I feel about this given circumstance will change and very wildly in a span of five minutes just because of whatever thought I’m thinking at that moment.
When you can observe that and ride that wave, you develop more resilience. So of course, you will want to at some point consciously direct your thoughts, but it’s not about feeling good all the time. It’s a dynamic. Allowing negative emotion, observing the thoughts causing it, allowing them to be there, changing them sometimes.
The goal is not to always feel amazing. And I think we have to keep reminding ourselves of that over and over because – for two reasons really. First, we’re biologically wired to avoid pain and seek pleasure. And then those of us living in contemporary Western societies, especially the United States, have been raised in a consumer culture that tells us we should and can always be happy, which is why we think when we are in pain, that something has gone so terribly wrong.
Just imagine how you would feel if you’d grown up believing that life is full of suffering. You wouldn’t be so surprised and agitated when you suffered. Just imagine, if you grew up and your whole expectation of life was life is full of suffering, everybody suffers, it should happen, or at least it always does, all the time to everyone.
When you suffered, you would be like, yup, here we are, suffering, that’s what’s supposed to happen. Now, I don’t think that has to be all life is of course. The true nature of human life is both. It’s happiness and suffering. But we are so tilted to believe it should just be happiness, it should just be feeling good.
So when you can accept that it’s both and you can stop resisting your suffering, you can allow the emotions, that’s when you can get so much clarity on what’s happening in your mind. That’s what I was just saying before.
You start to see so clearly, “Oh, when I think this thought, I start crying. When I think this thought, I feel angry. When I think this thought, I feel hopeful.” You can watch your brain do that.
And that’s the stage at which it starts to be possible to work consciously with your thoughts and start to direct them to where you want to go. And so that is really what leads me to today’s topic. I have been reading Grant Cardone’s book, Sell or Be Sold, which is a book about selling, as you can imagine.
And his basic premise is that everything in life is about either selling or being sold. Either you’re selling someone else on what you want to happen, or they’re selling you on what they want to happen. Or sometimes they’re selling themselves and you can’t sell them on an alternative. You may not be on board with what they want to have happen, but you’re not able to sell them on what you want to have happen.
It’s obviously clearest in the context of a sales conversation and he is a selling expert. I don’t totally agree with him that this is all of what human life is about, but you know, you don’t write a best-selling book with as much nuance maybe.
So if you think about in a sales conversation, those of you who have a business or are coaches, either you sell the client on your story about what they should do, which is sign up for coaching with you and what’s possible, or they sell you on all of their thoughts about why they’re afraid or they’re not ready or whatever else.
Either they come to believe what you are saying, or you end up agreeing with them and believing what they’re saying. So he writes about a lot of different areas of life are about selling or being sold, and again, I think it’s a little extreme, but it’s an interesting perspective.
But here’s what I want to borrow from him for our purposes. He talks about how in order to be a good salesperson for our product, you have to sell yourself on how amazing the product is. So he says you have to do whatever it takes to become so enamored with and involve with the product that you’re selling so that you truly believe it is the best product, it will solve the customer’s problem, it is worth the money.
It’s like being your own best first customer. You have to sell yourself, whatever it takes on believing in how amazing the product is, and that’s when it becomes effortless to sell. And I think we can take this concept and apply it to selling ourselves on our own thoughts.
We have to sell ourselves on our own thoughts. Because often what we want is we want the thought to sell us. So this is the progression that I see in my students. So first, often we tell ourselves, “I don’t even know what I could think instead.” So I’ll see my students and my clients do a thought download and then they’ll do a model on their painful thought and they’ll post it in The Clutch and they’ll say, “I just don’t know what I could think instead.”
So I want you to imagine, imagine you go to a clothing store, but when you get inside, you just throw up your hands and you say, “I don’t even know what to do here.” You want the clothes to jump off the rack, you want the exact right clothes to somehow know who they are, jump off the rack, and throw themselves on your body, of their own volition.
That’s what you want to happen. When you walk in the clothes store, you’re like, I just want to stand here and throw my hands up and I want the perfect clothes to magically be on my body from these racks. It doesn’t make any sense, right? That’s not how it works.
That’s what you’re doing with your brain. You have the most powerful thinking device on the planet at your disposal, but you are wanting your brain to do all the work without even a prompt. You can’t sit down and Google and not type anything in and then be mad that it didn’t magically return a perfectly tailored article for your interest in ancient beekeeping or something.
So first, we just tell ourselves we don’t even know what we could possibly think. And then even when we do have an idea for a thought, like maybe if you’re in The Clutch and you’ve posted, one of the other Clutch members offers you a comment or you get coaching from me or a Clutch coach, we help you brainstorm a new thought.
Then what happens is we want that new thought to do all the work for us. We think the new thought once or twice, and if we don’t have instant relief, we think it’s not doing its job. And when our brain pops up a million objections to our new thought, we believe all of those objections.
We think those objections mean something, that they’re true, that they’re a reason not to believe or commit to the new thought. We want the new thought to convince us, to sell us. We want the new thought to feel as true and powerful as the old thought that we’ve bene unconsciously practicing forever.
We think it’s the new thought’s job to convince us, to sell us on it and its validity and its utility and its believability. That new thought was just born like, 30 seconds ago when you thought of it. You don’t expect a baby to go out and earn a salary to support you.
The thought is a seed. It’s something that if you commit to watering and nurturing and growing it, it will eventually feed you. But it’s not the thought’s job to sell you on it. Now, in The Clutch, I teach you how to use your body to check if you believe a new thought even a little, and those of you who have listened to the thought ladder podcast episode, I talk about this there too.
That’s very important. So I’m not saying that whether you believe the thought at all doesn’t matter. You do have to check your body to see if you believe the new thought, if you have any emotional difference when you think it.
But even if you do, that little bit of difference, that’s the seed. That’s the little spark. That’s just the tiny potentiality. That’s the start. You have to sell yourself on your thought. So committing to practicing is one way of doing that, but how else can you sell yourself on believing that thought?
For instance, rather than look for reasons not to believe it or look for objections to it, what if you looked for reasons to believe it and evidence to support it? What if you looked for reasons that it would be awesome to believe this?
We have to sell ourselves on our own thoughts. We cannot expect the thought that you just came up with to sell you and to overcome on its own all the thoughts you’ve been thinking until now. We have to be willing to believe so hard in things that don’t exist yet so that we can create them.
We have to be willing to believe so hard in the person we are becoming who doesn’t even exist yet, but we can become them by believing in them. So we have to sell ourselves on our thoughts. And we have to sell ourselves on the process of thought work.
We show up and we want thought work to sell us, to prove it works, to prove we can change. But we have to be sold on our own change and ourselves and our own capacity to change. If you don’t believe you can change, if you’re not willing to believe that, even if you never have before, if you’re not willing to believe it’s possible, no method or coach or teacher can help you.
Whatever your dream or your desire or your goal is, you have to sell yourself on it being possible. You can’t doubt it the whole way and expect to achieve it. You have to sell yourself on your own thoughts. You have to want to believe them and practice believing them and commit to them.
The paradox of thought work is that you have to believe something that isn’t true yet in order to make it come true. You have to sell yourself on something that doesn’t exist yet. Imagine that you are trying to sell someone on a home that you’re going to build on a plot of land that isn’t there yet.
That’s what it’s like when you have to sell yourself on your own thoughts. You want evidence, the people want to see the house before they believe how amazing it is, but the house will only get built if they believe and they say yes. It’s only in their believing that the house will happen.
When you’re trying to believe something new, there’s all the reason in the world not to believe it because you haven’t made it come true yet. So if you’re trying to believe you can make $100,000 in a year as a life coach and you haven’t done that yet, all the weight of the evidence in your life is against you so far.
If you’re trying to believe you can find the love of your life and marry them and you haven’t done that yet, all the weight of the evidence in your own life is against you so far. There’s so many reasons not to believe. It’s so easy.
But if you don’t sell yourself on the dream, on the vision, on that possibility, it will never come true. You have to sell yourself so that you can make it come true. Now, you could say this is delusional. I’m telling you to believe something that doesn’t exist so hard that you’re 100% soul that it will. And you know what, I’m okay with that.
Because really, let this break your brain. Creating something that doesn’t exist yet is a delusion or at least an illusion of the best kind. Thomas Edison had to believe that the lightbulb, that electric lighting was possible. The Wright brothers had to believe you could fly through the air like a bird. Think about how insane that seemed.
Madam C. J. Walker had to believe she could become the first Black woman to be a self-made millionaire. No evidence in her own life for sure, or even anyone else that it could happen. None of them had any evidence that those things were plausible or possible at first.
Before you create something new in your own life, there will not be any evidence that it’s possible. That’s why it’s new. So we spend all this time trying to convince ourselves it’s possible or it’s not or look for this evidence and sometimes looking for evidence and using cognitive bias can be useful strategies, but we always have to sell ourselves on the thought.
We have to be willing to believe delusionally in the possibility of creating something that we haven’t been able to create yet, becoming someone we haven’t been able to be yet. It will always seem like a delusion because it will always be different than what you have done before. And there is no way out of that.
Thomas Edison and the Wright brothers and Madam C. J. Walker, they believed and so their inventions and their accomplishments came to be. They were 100% sold on their belief that it was possible. A thought, a belief, a dream, a vision, it can’t sell itself to you. It can’t convince you that it’s plausible.
You have to create it and you have to sell yourself on it. You have to sell yourself on your own thoughts. You have to be looking for any reason to believe them, any reason to commit to them, any reason to love them. Not any reason to dismiss or disbelieve them.
The more you sell yourself on your thoughts, the more you can create the results that you want in your life. Everything I have in my life that I value, that I created, I have created by selling myself on my thoughts. Selling myself on my own belief in myself.
And the places in my life that I don’t yet have what I want, I can see very clearly that I’m not 100% sold on my beliefs. I’m not actively selling myself on positive, useful thoughts that I picked on purpose. I’m occasionally glancing at those thoughts, I’m trying them on in the dressing room, but then I’m hemming and hawing and I’m looking for flaws and reasons not to believe.
And so, my results are mixed in whatever those areas are. And that’s okay. I don’t blame myself or shame myself about that. It’s just where I am in my process. But I know that to make progress on those goals, to create that new result like I have in so many other areas, I have to double down on my belief.
I have to be so sold on my thoughts that even when I take a wrong turn or I don’t get the result I want, my brain tries to tell me it’s not working, I don’t even register it. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change my belief at all because I know that if I keep selling myself on the beliefs I want to believe, I will be able to create the results I want to create.
Your brain is going to be doing something up in your head. It is a powerful organ. It needs something to do. So, do you want to sell yourself on your own limitations? Do you want to sell yourself on your own incapacities? Do you want to sell yourself on your self-critical mean thoughts about yourself?
Do you want to sell yourself on rejecting yourself? On being reasonable and practical and only trying to create what you can already believe is possible and only trying to go for what everyone else tells you you can have and what the average person seems to be able to do? All of which is what you already have.
Or do you want to go big and bet the house and double down on believing in your own greatness, your own potential, your own story, your own capacity to grow and evolve, your own ability to embrace the suffering and the joy of a fully lived life?
Does anyone on their death bed say, “I’m so glad I stuck to the middle of the road and never took any risks. I’m so glad I only believed things that seemed plausible and possible right away. I’m so glad I kept my dreams small.” I don’t think that’s what anyone thinks looking back.
And let me be really clear. A big dream does not have to be world domination. It might be learning to play the cello or having a child or perfecting your sourdough bread. It’s not about the size or the genre.
It’s just about believing something new into being and selling yourself on your own thoughts to make it happen. It’s about believing you can become the person who has this different result and selling yourself on that possibility. So sell yourself on your thoughts on purpose, my chicken, because in this instance, Grant Cardone is right, but both people are you.
If you’re not selling yourself on your conscious thoughts, then your unconscious, unmanaged mind is selling you on your unmanaged, unconscious thoughts that it has come up with and I can guarantee they are not as good as the ones that you can come up with on purpose that will change your life. So sell or be sold. I’ll talk to you next week.
If this episode spoke to you, then you need to check out The Clutch because it comes with a five-week self-coaching course that will walk you through exactly how to apply this life-changing work to anything you experience. Literally anything. If you’ve ever thought, “Well, I don’t know how to get started with thought work or I don’t know exactly how to do thought work or if I’m doing it right, or what order I should do it in or how I should do it,” the self-coaching course teaches you all of that.
And even if you’re familiar with thought work concepts, The Clutch will help you take the work deeper, and it comes with access to expert coaches who can answer any thought work question you have. Plus, me, of course, to coach you live. No question is off limits. You can change your life by going to unfuckyourbrainn.com/theclutch, or you can actually just text your email address to 347-934-8861 and we will send a link to all the information you need straight to your cellphone. I’ll see you there.