Our brains are amazing in so many ways. In other ways they are...well...not so amazing. But they are at least predictable.
When we give energy to something, our brain will continue to think about it even as we sleep. Neurotransmitters pull things out of our brain that we’ve deemed to be irrelevant, making room to “double-down” on those things we’ve selected as important. Very soon a habit or pattern emerges when we continue to focus on that thing.
Phil’s first two rules are all about being selective about what we deem to be important, so that we can form healthy habits and patterns. This third rule is all about breaking the cycle of negative thought and giving ourselves the best chance for a healthy mind.
Every single one of us, especially right now, will be turning to things that make us feel a certain way to help navigate these emotions. Many of these things are destructive...and we know it. Fueling addictions is giving anxiety a foothold that is incredibly difficult to break. It’s stealing our true joy and replacing it with a fleeting sensation of “okayness.”
When we are tempted to give in to negative thoughts or destructive addictions, we have to make a better choice. It will take time, and it will be hard, but we “must allow ourselves to self-care” as Phil would say. We need natural sounds in our lives. We need physical activity. We need good healthy foods. Deal with the emotion first, but when it comes time to making a decision, replace the negative feeling with a positive one. As they say in Red Rising, “break the chains” that bind you!
It should be said that breaking an addiction or negative habit pattern is exceptionally difficult to do without external help. Thankfully, there are great organizations out there dedicated to helping us achieve freedom and mental harmony. Some examples include The Adult Children of Alcoholics World Service Organization, the National Eating Disorders Association, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. All three of these and many others have virtual and over-the-phone options that can be utilized from home.
In a way, this pandemic has revealed how far away many of us have gotten from simple, healthy habits. We can return. We navigate for ourselves a path not only through this crisis, but a path to stronger mental health for the rest of our lives.
To listen to the full podcast episode featuring Phil Herndon, click here.