Brain Dump to Clear the Cobwebs
Transition. It can be a time of great confusion, can’t it?! We feel sort of lost, confused, isolated, and often unsure of our next right move. We want to see the entire picture before we take step one. We want to know how it all works out, when all we really need is the next bread crumb – the next right step.
It can seem overwhelming at times – not knowing what the end has in store – especially if we thought we knew what it was going to look like before the tsunami crashed in and wiped out what we had previously created.
Here’s the real deal: We will only get the next snippet or the next nugget. And truly – that is all that we need. We need our next right step.
But how to get there?
One of the most detrimental things in transition is the churning mind. It seems to be out there on its own creating and fantasizing all the worst case scenarios that might exist for us. Isn’t it funny how much easier it is to go to catastrophe thinking than it is to lean into the possibility that things just might work out?
So we have to get that noise out of the head so that we can get grounded and think and feel with some bit of clarity. There is a way to get that clanging noise out from the head and onto paper by practicing a brain dump.
Something changes when we get it out.
Yes, I am going to ask you to journal. This is important. Journalling works and is a very important part of self-work. I did everything I could to get around journalling. I resisted it for so long. Now I see how critical it is to get the ramblings out of my head – and out of my body. Just that simple act alone brings great relief.
Something happens neurologically when you get what is in your head out onto paper. You see it before you in a physical form that looks and feels different than it did when it was scurrying around inside your brain just a moment before. Something changes.
So how does it work?
One of the simplest methods is to sit down in a quiet space and get yourself calm and centered. If you do not know how to do that, just breathe for a few minutes. Let yourSelf sink down into yourSelf.
Let everything drop down into your center. Have some yawns and some stretches. Relax.
Now go ahead and write down all your worries, all your fears, all your negative Self-talk (the things you don’t like about You).
Get them all down in front of you on paper. It helps if you write out the question you want to ask. Some examples: “What are my greatest worries right now?” “What do I fear the most right now?” “What are all the negative things I tell mySelf about mySelf?” “What do I not like about mySelf right now?”
Now, just start writing.
Just allow it to all run out. And when you think it’s done, write down the question: “What else?” And do that three times to make sure you’ve emptied it all out.
Phew. What do you notice now that all that internal noise is all outside of your body? How does it feel?
Now look at what is written out. Does it feel the same as it did when it was swirling in your head? How has it changed?
Perhaps you even laugh at some of it… Perhaps you recognize that some of it (or most) is just. Not. Even. True.
Cross off what is immediately and obviously not true.
How do you know if it is not true? The question to ask is: “Is this actually happening right now?”
Is it a true, present moment concern? Do you have real, tangible evidence that this is happening now?
If it is not, then it is simply not true. It is instead, your protective mind that is projecting a past emotional experience onto the future.
Allow me to explain a bit.
You have core emotions and you have feelings. People often use the words interchangeably, but they’re not the same things. There are a list of core emotions that exist that are important to feel when they arise. (You can look them up. There is debate as to how many there actually are.)
Feelings are secondary [emotions] that are created by thought and memory associated to the experience of a core emotion in the body. So when something happens in our life, following our core emotion response, we create thoughts and feelings around that thing that happened.
Our brain then pulls from that experience whenever it is triggered, and we place those past thoughts and emotions onto the present moment and into the future. This is projecting.
Now, for what remains.
If you find that what is left is actually true – meaning, it is real, tangible, and measurable right now in your life – What do you need to do to change your behaviors to create what you do want to have happen?
As an example, let’s say a thought you have about yourself is that you procrastinate about “x”.
Are you in fact procrastinating about “x”? Let’s say that you are.
What do you need to change to stop procrastinating around “x”?
List out 3 actions towards changing that behavior, then commit to doing them. Boom. Done. Now you can move on with creating more supportive thoughts about how you are changing that.
Create a reframe.
Ever heard of a reframe? This is where we choose a statement that helps us see things from a different perspective.
A reframe for the example I gave above may look like: “I used to think that I procrastinate around “x” but now I have a plan in place to take action on “x” and I am doing that everyday.”
Why not go directly from the thought: “I procrastinate” to “I am proactive” – ?
Because most often, we simply won’t believe such a dramatic shift. A reframe (or an affirmation) has to be something we can believe. So, by inching over the dial in a way that we can totally believe, we will be more effective in getting there.
Why does this work?
Simply put: When we are swirling in our thoughts – meaning we are deeply and emotionally involved and invested in those thoughts – we cannot see the truth. We cannot see clearly and this will prevent us from knowing our next step.
The practice of creating an emotional disconnect from our thoughts by putting them on paper outside of our mind, allows us the space to change our perspective and get a clearer view of what is reality.