My Dog and Your Brain

Sep 01, 2020

On Friday night, someone in our neighborhood let off a loud firecracker. The sound boomed through the house and our dog, Auggie, nearly lost his mind.

He started barking like crazy, running around in circles and scratching at the door, begging to be let out. He wanted to personally assess the magnitude of danger we were in, confront it head on, and do what he could to protect us.

My daughter tried to pick him up to calm him down and it just made things worse. He started scrabbling around in her arms trying to get free, barking even more, and bucking desperately against her hold.

It took him a long time to calm down.

Because Auggie thinks he has a job to do. Auggie thinks his job is to protect the rest of his pack. He can hear and see better than the rest of us and he’s built to notify us of danger—like neighbors having parties, or birds landing in our yard, or nefarious delivery people daring to approach the door.

He doesn’t know that we’re not in actual danger from any of these things. He’s just doing his job, as he sees it.

Your brain is the same way.

Your brain’s number one job is your survival. It’s on constant, high alert to anything that might put your survival in jeopardy. And when it senses possible danger, it starts “barking” by giving you thoughts like, “I’m never going to make it,” “They’ll think I’m weird,” “It’s too hard,” “I always do it wrong,” “I’m going to look stupid,” “Why can’t I just get it together?”

These thoughts make us doubt our abilities, they make us worry what other people think, and they keep us from doing so many of the things we really want to do.

But they are just thoughts. Created by a brain that is designed to protect you.

The problem is not that you have the thoughts.

The problem is that you believe the thoughts. You believe that there is real danger out there and so you stop.

In other words, the barking isn’t the problem. The problem is what we make the barking mean. When Auggie barks at the fireworks, I don’t make it mean that I’m in danger. I know I’m not. I don’t panic. I don’t hide under the bed. I don’t call the police. I know he’s just doing his job, and I don’t believe him when he says we’re in danger.

What if you saw the thoughts your brain gives you in the same way?

What if the thoughts about what other people think, and the thoughts that doubt your ability, and the thoughts that tell you you’re failing or doing it all wrong, and the thoughts that say you aren’t enough, don’t mean anything?

How much more would you do—what would you do—if you knew those thoughts didn’t mean stop, that they weren’t the truth, and that there was no real danger out there?

The problem is not that you have a brain generating thoughts. The problem is that you think you are required to believe them.

But you aren’t.

And if you want to do amazing things in the world, you are going to have to purposefully decide not to believe them. No matter how loudly they bark.

This one skill is all you need to get totally different results in your life. And this is what I teach and coach all my clients to do. If you’re ready to stop listening to the barking of your own brain and create an extraordinary life, come get some coaching.

xo,

April

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