I want to let you in on a little secret: Your brain does not want you to reach your goals.
I know, crazy, right?
It turns out that your brain doesn’t care about your goals at all. It doesn’t care who you want to be or what you want to do in your life or how precious you think your time on earth is.
Your lower brain only cares about one thing: survival.
Which is important, I guess.
But the thing is that survival used to be a lot harder. When our species first evolved there were a lot more potential threats around us. There were predators. There was the real possibility of starvation or dehydration. The elements were a much bigger concern to our safety and security. Everything was dangerous.
And so the brain learned to function according to three important principles in order to keep us alive. These are also known as the motivational triad. According to the motivational triad, the brain is programmed to:
1. Avoid pain – As humans we learned to avoid pain and...
Can I be honest? I used to hate Mother’s Day.
It felt kind of like “Mother’s Yearly Evaluation Day” to me. It was like a report card on my mothering and I used the day as a massive evidence-gathering mission on all the ways I was failing as a mother.
Which were many.
When my kids fought and argued on Mother’s Day, it was clear evidence that I was a terrible mother and hadn’t taught them how to love each other.
When nobody pitched in to help cook or clean on Mother’s Day, I used it as evidence that I’m the only one who does things around here and my family doesn’t really care about me.
When my husband didn’t get me flowers or the right gift it was evidence that he thought I was a terrible mother and wished he had made a better choice. (I even used to compare the amount he spent on me with the amount he spent on his secretary for “Executive Assistant Day” and compared which one of us he thought...
I've spent the week getting up close and personal with my new Yeti podcast microphone.
And I've spent the week getting up close and personal with all my doubts and fears as well.
That's how it goes. That's part of the deal.
You want to do something new? Going after that goal is going to require feeling some negative emotion along the way.
In this case, I felt anxious that I didn't have anything to offer. I felt scared that no one would ever listen. I felt confused that I didn't know how to do any of it. I felt frustrated that it was taking me so long to edit my work and get it published. I felt regret that I hadn't started earlier and that I was "behind." I even felt shame that apparently I breathe really loudly when I talk.
The point is, my brain was having all kinds of thoughts that trying something new was dangerous and threatened my survival. And so it produced all kinds of chemicals to warn me and get me to run and try to get me...
This morning I was on a call with a client.
When she saw the power her thoughts had in creating the current results in her life she asked, amazed, “Has this changed your home? Has this changed everything for you?”
The answer is emphatically yes! And it is also unfortunately no.
Let me explain.
Yes, oh yes (!), learning how to identify and choose my thoughts deliberately has changed everything for me. It has improved my relationship with myself and others. It has allowed me find more peace and joy. I finally understand that I am the creator of all my feelings, which has enabled me let go of blame and shame and worry and regret. It has helped me really understand what agency is and how I always have the choice to choose the better part.
It has been truly life-changing for me.
But, also, I am still human. I still have a human brain. I am still learning to choose the better part. Every single day.
I still have negative emotions and I still have thoughts that don’t...
One of the most important things we can learn is that we are already whole. We are completely worthy and 100% lovable. Right now. Exactly as we are. Without changing or “improving” anything. In this moment with all your gifts and all your talents and all your deficiencies, you are 100% worthy and lovable.
And (this is important!), you actually can’t get “better” because there is no limit to your worth. You can’t get better when you have infinite worth.
Whatever our goals are—whether it is to develop more love or charity, or be more Christlike, or be more patient, or show up like the kind of mother we want to be—whatever it is, we don’t become a better person when we develop and grow in these ways. We simply get more skills and develop greater capacity to give more, love more, and serve more. It’s just more fun to live our lives and interact with others when we have...
This weekend I met my college kids in Utah for a little shopping. It was delightful in every way. I got caught up on their love lives, their roommates, their moving plans, their classes, and their finals. I listened as they talked and watched them in awestruck amazement and unabashed adoration. I am completely in love with them.
Several times I had the thought, "I love my life."
Just three years ago, I was having an entirely different experience. My son was leaving on a two-year service mission for our church. He was graduating from high school and my daughter would follow only a year later. I could see the dominoes of loneliness and loss falling inextricably into a dismal future.
It felt like my life was over. I thought that things would never be the same, that something special was ending forever, and I was certain that there was no way that the future, which would consist of considerable time spent apart, could ever be...
My birthday was last week. I was out of town, so we opened presents on Sunday night. I got four presents. There was no cake. There were no candles. There was no birthday song. I didn’t make a birthday wish.
These are the facts. These are just the circumstances. They are completely neutral until I had a thought about them.
The thought I had was that there should becake and candles and a song for my birthday. I thought it was ridiculous that there weren’t any of those things. I made it mean that nobody really cared that I was born.
I felt irritated. Oh, so irritated.
After that, you can imagine that I didn’t really show up the way I wanted to. My comments were snarky and I gave David the cold shoulder. In this moment of emotional childhood, I was blaming David for the fact that I felt irritated.
But the truth is not only had I created the feeling of irritation, even worse, I...
David and I just went on a quick trip to Grand Cayman. It was amazing!
I know what you’re thinking…of course it was, you were on vacation without the kids on a beautiful island in the Caribbean.
Here’s the thing. None of that is what made it amazing.
I know this for sure because four years ago we went on another getaway to beautiful Carmel in California. We had a room that looked out over the sea. And I was miserable.
Because in my life I was angry and resentful and miserable. I was always worried and stressed and burdened. And changing my location from home to Carmel, didn’t make any difference at all.
The location is always just a circumstance! I was angry and resentful and miserable because of my thoughts about my life and the people in it and not because of anything else.
I know it feels like the circumstances are just happening to you. I know sometimes it feels almost impossible to be happy, even...