The truth is there is no easy way to have a hard conversation. Life comes with challenges and so do we. We have our thoughts and opinions as well as concerns and fears. In fact, life can be uncomfortable sometimes. There is no point in pretending otherwise and there is no reason to act as if this is not true. More to the point, there is nothing wrong with being honest about the challenges we face.
Life will not always be a comfortable process. Our choices are not always attractive. There will be moments that come with difficult decisions and there is no reason to act as if this is not true. However, the compilation is not the choices we have or the decisions we face. The struggle is emotional, in which case, we find ourselves giving into projections and intimidations.
We often give in to our frustrations and fears. We allow ourselves to work up an entire scenario, which becomes a self-fulfilled prophecy. And then we say things afterwards, like “See, I knew this was going to happen!”
The oldest part of our brain has the primal purpose to survive. This is where our fight of flight comes from. There is really no emotion here. There are no worries about outside opinion. There are no concerns if someone likes us or judges us.
Then comes the mammalian brain or mid-brain. This is our limbic system. This is our center for emotion and learning. This is where our bonding comes from. This is where we store our opinions and experiences, biases, predictions, and connections. Fears live here too. Worries of discomfort and exposure work here too. This is the file cabinet where we store our regrettable yesterdays and then some.
This part of the mind sees life as either agreeable or disagreeable, which splits us between pleasure and pain. There is no concept of time or logic. This is the part of the brain that can be triggered by influence or, say like, the internal narrative we have. This is the internal predictions about arguments and conversations, which can trigger waves of emotions, which enables our thinking to register problems or concerns. This is what steers us towards becoming overly irrational; in which case, and put simply, this is the part of our brain that can be swayed by our fears and emotional intention.
Next are the signals of threat and danger, which are mostly imaginative, but yet, to us and according to the deception of our perception; the threats are real. The problem is now. Therefore, the reaction must be now or at least preemptive to protect ourselves. This is where we store the arrows we use to shoot down our dreams. Put simply, this is what happens when we jump to conclusions. This is what happens when we psyche ourselves out and give in to our irrational predictions.
Now, let’s talk about the frontal lobe. Let’s talk about the logic brain. This is the rational part of the brain, which does not fully develop until the age of about 25. This is where plans live. This is where strategy comes from. There is no emotion here. And be advised, I am not a doctor nor am I someone pretending to know something about the brain, other than a way to compartmentalize and simplify our ways of complicated thinking.
I always go back to what Socrates said:
“If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is law and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.”
I think this describes us all very well. We want life to be easy. We want things to happen in our favor. We want happiness and pleasure. We see things as either agreeable or disagreeable, win or lose, and good or bad. This is all emotion, which is not to say emotion is bad but instead, emotion has a way of swaying us away from our rational thinking.
Emotion has its place the same as logic has its place.
I started out by explaining there is no easy way to have a hard conversation. And since we believe this is true; then hence, it must be true. Emotion has a way of limiting our abilities and production. Emotional thinking is the birthplace for sayings like, “Don’t cut your nose off to spite your face.” Because we do this sometimes, don’t we?
I used to be afraid of my emotions. I used to believe they would give me away and then I would be gullible or worse, then I would be vulnerable. Much of what we do and say is done and said to create a sense of personal comfort. Above all, we want to protect ourselves. However, if given the attention, emotions can lead to hypersensitive concerns and overthinking; in which case, we can literally cripple ourselves from taking the next step or making a decision to improve our lives.
I mentioned that I am not a doctor in a previous chapter. And I’m not. I’m what you call human. I have nerves and receptors. I have a heart. I understand empathy on a very personal level, which is not always easy.
I have influences and understanding. I have a past that is riddled with fears and long-winded sessions of internal conversations, doubtful self-talk, and overthinking, which kept me from exercising my right to search for better scenarios.
I am someone that has fear. I have insecurity. I have worries and concerns. I have fears of vulnerability. I’m afraid to be unprotected and humiliated. I’ve had them for a long time now.
This is me even before the time when I was humiliated in the second grade because I had an accident and wet my pants. This happened in front of everyone inside the school’s cafeteria. If I think about this, I can see a still-framed picture of the lunchroom in my head. I can literally hear the laughter of the kids, which almost sounded as if the entire cafeteria erupted in a form of laughter. This was bad enough but the worst part was the purple corduroys they gave me to wear for the rest of the day. I remember kids pointing at me and laughing. My limbic system remembers this too, which means my memory of this is probably worse than what happened but not by much. I give this as an example to add some humor and also humanize the dilemmas we have.
The first thing we want in life is comfort. The last thing we want is rejection. The truth is, more than likely, I am one of the very few that remember things like that time I peed myself in the lunchroom.
Secondly, no one remembers as dramatically as me. And lastly, it is safe to say that I will never be in the second grade again, which means that piece of humiliation will never happen again.
This is more than what happened in second grade. It’s more than the lessons of humiliation and intimidation, which we all go through in life. We all have our special motivations and reasons that promote our intentions. This is where the ideas come from and where our social biases begin.
However, the one and truest lesson I have ever learned is fears and insecurity, although valid, they are not based on reality or current reality. This comes from a long list of inventory.
Now, moving forward to the logic brain. There is no emotion here. There is only plan and strategy. This is the grownup section of our brain. I see my midbrain as a little kid always tugging on my pant leg; always looking for reassurance, always asking for warmth, always afraid of the dark and afraid of both pain and ridicule.
Sometimes, I have to parent myself. Sometimes I have to answer the call of the midbrain theories and figuratively speaking, I have to step in like a father to his son after a nightmare and explain, “It’s okay now. I’m here.” and “That won’t ever happen again.”
Bukowski once wrote a poem called Bluebird. I think this describes a lot of what I’ve explained, only, Bukowski explains this perfectly in raw form.
I’ll just leave this here for you …..