Eating burgers for your brain is no better than eating burgers for your body.
Burgers for brains? What on earth am I talking about? Well probably most of us are guilty of doing exactly that with our choice of words. And whoops, I’ve just done exactly that in the previous sentence by using the word guilty. Oh dear, there I go again!
Yes the word is GUILTY ! Everything we say about ourselves and others is being monitored by our brain and nervous system.
The title of the excellent book “Your body believes every word you say” by Barbara Levine describes it perfectly. Our bodies and brains are constantly exchanging messages to alert and signal to our body chemistry to take the appropriate action for a positive message or a negative message.
This is a primal response that is hard wired into the system to keep us safe when we’re in the jungle. If there is even a subtle scent of danger in the air my body will need to respond immediately to escape.
So what is going on that triggers the body into this negative state?
One thing is that the three vertebrae at the top of your spine, C1 C2 C3, are sitting one on top of the other. In a dangerous situation, and also with negative thoughts these 3 vertebrae will instantly respond by shifting slightly to close off some of the blood flow to the brain. Well it makes sense because if I’m confronted by a tiger I don’t want to think, I want to run! The “Fight or Flight” response is immediately activated and the muscles get more blood and my body gets more adrenaline and cortisol.
Unfortunately fed constant negativity, whether from outside sources or from our own internal thinking begins will over time lock us into a negative state. Then the vertebrae will find it difficult to move back to their parasympathetic relaxation resting place because we are continually triggering them into “fight and flight”. This is extremely wearing for our whole body and mind system.
The other point is that we can get dopamine hits from negativity as well as positivity. Imagine if we are constantly “liking” comments on Facebook because we agree with someone’s negative point of view. Then we become addicted to “unearned dopamine”. This negative dopamine makes us feel “one up” but like any drug we will always want another hit.
Dopamine is great when we earn it by achieving something worthwhile and working towards a goal. But just like being addicted to drugs, cigarettes and anything else, we can soon become that “rat in the lab” pressing the lever to get the next hit.
Gossip, arguing, negative self talk, negative words are all keeping us locked in that lab as our own actions try to get our next hit.
Physically feeding our bodies with burgers all day doesn’t keep us fit and mentally feeding our mind and body with negative thoughts has the same effect on our whole system.
Here are a couple of simple strategies we can put in place to help “clean up our act”
One I regularly give clients is the phrase “That thought is not available”. Any negative thought and you just say that back to yourself as many times as you need.
This works because the conscious mind doesn’t understand what it means but the creative mind does. Soon the conscious mind will get tired of trying to work it out and then your creative mind can do what it does best, create positive alternatives. Even saying to yourself “the weather is crazy out there” is much better than “it’s really miserable outside”
You could also use the elastic band on wrist favourite, and give yourself a quick reminder by flicking it against your skin any time you think something negatively.
Even better swap the band to the opposite wrist each time you have a negative thought. I can tell you from experience this becomes pretty tedious and it’s easier to just drop the negative words! We won’t clear them all out but your brain will soon begin to get what this is all about and you will literally start thinking, saying and using more new positive patterns in your everyday language.