How to Call your Brain's Bluff when you are a Complete Beginner

Call Your Brain's Bluff

Okay, let’s get on the same page about one thing. I have complete and utter respect for our brain, the saving grace of the human race over the millennia. So when I call it a Liar, um, let me actually change that to a lowercase l, liar, I am doing so with the utmost respect.

That being said, I think I am doing the brain a favor. You see the brain has the hardest job around, to keep us safe in an ever-changing, increasingly complex and distracting world. It will continue to do that for us 24-7 without complaining or ever asking us to cut down on our activities, screen time or complicated lives.

So, the least we can do for our brains is to help it cut down on false alarms. The way we do that is by calling its bluff, calling it a liar (lowercase l) when it is lying or sending out false alarms. You see the false alarms are terribly exhausting for both the brain and body. Not to mention false alarms hijack our attention, make us constantly question our abilities, waste our time in worry, avoid people and places, and can even keep us craving things that are bad for us.

It is everyone’s best interest to be able to get a grip on these false alarms. Let me tell you how to do it.

1. Notice whenever:

  • You have some of these thoughts: worries of what might happen in the future, rumination about the past, thoughts of being in danger, or self-critical  thoughts.

  • You have some of these feelings: Anger, sadness, disgust, shame, not good enough.

  • You have these imaginations: thoughts of worst case scenario, catastrophes or unlikely events, unrealistic happenings.

  • You have these physical feelings: Rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, dizzy, stomach distress, headaches, irritability, fatigue, tension

  • You do any of these behaviors: Avoid people or situations, nail biting, play with hair, overeat, over drink, try to escape thinking of a certain thing.

2. When you recognize any of the above, take a moment to question its validity.

3. I feel quite confident when I say, many of these will be indications that your brain is sending out a false alarm of some sort.

4. Call your brain’s bluff. Seriously, label whatever is going on a deceptive message.

5. Know that you have done your brain a serious favor and turn your attention to something different, better, more fun, more productive, anything that doesn’t reinforce the false alarm.

  • Takeaway #1: Our brains are awesome! 
  • Takeaway #2: Over time we reinforce our brain’s false alarms so our brain keeps sending them.