TALKING V. LISTENING
Who do you think you talk to the most?
Your mom? Your romantic partner? Your dog?
It’s your own brain.
Your conversation with yourself inside your head lasts a lifetime.
You are constantly in conversation with your brain.
But what does that conversation look like?
For most of us, it’s one-sided. Our brains are chattering away and we’re passively listening, believing, and obeying.
What the weather’s like, what we want to eat, what we want to do, what our clothing size means about us, what that email means about our coworker, and on and on.
By some estimates, your brain has around 60,000 thoughts a day!
While listening is generally a great idea when you’re in conversation with another person, it’s actually a pretty terrible plan when it comes to conversations with your brain.
Because your brain is just repeating endless old patterns that you didn’t choose and probably aren’t helpful.
And if you don’t take control of the conversation, your life will be run by your unmanaged mind.
Allow me to illustrate.
Before the 1950s, it was widely accepted that it was impossible for a human body to run a mile in less than 4 minutes. 4 minutes was considered the biological and mechanical capacity of a human body.
And then in 1954, someone ran a four-minute mile.
And then just two months later, two other people did it.
Now, thousands of people have done it.
It’s not as though one person was finally born with the physical ability to do this superhuman feat because they had a body never seen again.
It was a mental restriction.
When someone told their brain that it was possible – and then other people believed it was possible – it became possible.
The same is true for thought work.
Some of thought work is about observing your brain for sure; paying attention to your thoughts and what feelings and actions they produce.
But thought work is also about talking to your brain – telling it what is possible and what you’d like it to believe on purpose.
A lot of us half-ass our thought work. We assume that our brain will always be running the show, and we use thought work just for damage control.
But what if your default expectation were that you are talking to your brain more, instead of listening to it all the time?
What if you told your brain what to think most of the time (and not the other way around)?
How would that change things for you?
The only thing holding you back in life is your habit of listening to your brain when it tells you all the reasons it thinks you can’t be the person you want to be.
That’s why listening to your brain is such a painful and suffocating way of living.
But if you are in charge of talking to your brain, you are setting the agenda and the conversation.
There’s an art to doing this correctly. It’s not just shouting over your brain and trying to drown it out.
It’s different from resisting your brain or yelling at it.
If you are trying to yell at your brain, it means you think your current thoughts are bad and dangerous and need to go away.
All that does is create anxiety and agitation, which make it impossible to think something new.
But your current thoughts are harmless as they are.
They are only a problem if you *believe* them and then resist them.
If you allow them to be there while labeling them as optional thoughts, there’s no need to be so dramatic.
That’s why I call this tool “talking to your brain instead of listening” rather than “screaming at your brain instead of weeping.” 😉
Talking to your brain instead of listening to it looks like petting your lizard brain instead of believing it (& freaking out over it).
When your lizard brain says you can’t run because you forgot your water bottle? Pet it & tell it you’re going to run anyway. (Thanks to a Clutch member for this great example straight from her own self-coaching!)
When your lizard brain says you can’t ask for a promotion because you’re not good enough? Pet it & tell it you’re going to ask anyway.
When your lizard brain tells you you’ll never find love so you might as well quit the dating apps now? Pet it & tell it you’re going to swipe anyway.
Listening to your brain means believing all of your unintentional thoughts and letting them tell you what you can think or do or feel or be.
Talking to your brain means being in control of your thoughts and telling your brain what is possible for you.
Imagine how everything would change if you talked to your brain more than you listened to it. Imagine what you could think or feel or do or be.
Then take control of the conversation.