Your Brain On Loop and How to Change It!

Your Brain On Loop and How to Change It!

We are not okay with chaos and chance. It’s human nature to seek out patterns everywhere. Knowing what’s going to happen, or at least being pretty sure of it can be the difference between happy and having a total meltdown for most of us.

We are the worlds most sophisticated pattern machine. You/Me/We are calculating patterns and predictions at an evolved rate! Especially as life speeds up and digital technology becomes more ingrained in our everyday journey.

The structure is everything to us even when it means creating one (a pattern) where it doesn’t exist. Realistically and philosophically it can be useful and detrimental. Our freedom of choice and education, coupled with street smarts is all we have to calculate these choices.

Freedom of Choice: You’re in a burning building and receive a phone call telling you to “stay put for safety reasons.” You can see this situation is out of everyone’s control and leave anyways. You live while the group you were just with is now gone forever.

Education: during a business retreat in Maui, one of your colleagues starts drowning! A powerful man nearby drags him out of the ocean and onto the dry, hot beach. You remember your training as a child from CPR swim class and begin giving him mouth-to-mouth. Within seconds he spits up the ocean water, and you have saved his life!

Street Smarts: You’ve been preparing for months and have gone through five different interview meetings for a job that will change your life. The phone rings and the woman on the other end explains someone else has received the position and thank you. Instead of going into a deep depression, you move forward effortlessly to the next endeavor. Your reaction to defeating news is much better than someone who hasn’t had experienced negative situations. You haven’t led a sheltered life and find a great job within a week of hearing the bad news. You’re now celebrating!

The experience behind these 3 assets that we all can grow is essential to separating fact from adverse pattern recognition.

When we see, think, or feel things because of a pattern stuck on a loop, we can begin to live an unimportant life. Everything becomes ordinary, stale, and boring.

A stagnant and discontent emotion is the red flag telling you that your brain is stuck on a pattern loop. Replaying a habit, to create structure, to reinforce comfort. Comfort can be the demise of your dreams because our great endeavors do not live on comfort; they thrive on change!

While humans strive for excellence, our brain is trying to be the “overlord” searching for patterns to keep you in a specific structure. Driving the ship, so you don’t have to because your exhausted and need a rest from the stresses of life. It fears change and thrives on routine even if the routine is not good for us. BUT, our soul urges us in other directions that feel exciting and scary as fuck at the same time!

What are ways you can shake things up in your life, and how can you prepare for the inevitable feelings of fear?

Having a plan for those moments of regret that you know are illusions will be the difference in your success OR FAILURE. Remember, your brain needs structure/patterns to compute better, and having a plan for all those heart-aching moments will feed your monster. Give it something good to work with!

One of my favorite ways of knowing how to react on bad days is to recall in detail what my perfect days look, feel, and taste like! What am I wearing, and how does my home look? How do I think and is it because I’m doing something? What is that something? And my favorite, what am I eating and drinking? The hardest part about this exercise is making it a new habit because if you’re like me, then you don’t feel like doing shit on those bad days! Hiding under the covers binge watching Game of Thrones always enters my mind. During this battle of what to do next, I ALWAYS try to do the total opposite of what I think I have to do. If I want to sleep, I walk. If I want to eat a burger, I have a salad. If I want to work, I play. It’s a fun and longtime favorite “game” of children actually. It’s one of the best habits, and for some reason, we grow up believing we must forget such childish things because it is not responsible or mature. Your inner child knows a lot! Trust in her. She wants the world for you, and it’s probably been a long time since you’ve listened to her advice. Give her a chance.

The best part of this exercise is the total empowerment of making every decision. Being in charge of your brain is thrilling!

Being able to change the channel in your mind when you want is exactly how successful people live. It’s the answer to your problems big and small, and it’s a lost art.

I Remember this time my grandmother blew everything off for me. She acted like my parent’s divorce wasn’t even happening! I thought she didn’t understand the severity of the situation. But really, she was putting into action the creative exercise of doing the opposite and remembering what makes life better.

The people you look up to and admire know this stuff and have spent their entire life, making this habit an automatic reaction.

If you’re at the beginning of consciously changing your brain, it’s going to take years to get the results you’re looking for. There’s a myth out there that you can improve or develop new habits in 21 days. That’s false on so many levels. If I were you and wanted to make intentional positive changes that will last, I would begin right away! The key is to practice not to expect. Have fun with your failures and keep going at it until you have your dream results. I know from experience how long and disappointing significant change can be. I’ve failed so many times in a row that I almost gave up on some of the best life-altering heart popping unicorn rainbows in my life… sobriety.

Remember it’s normal for it not to work out the first few times. Sometimes it’s a matter of figuring out your unique perspective and process in how to do it your own way. Because no amount of words, money, or encouragement can give you what you’re looking for. Only you can figure it out. That’s why it so damn hard! But once you get through it, it’s a mere memory, and you’re happy and moving onto the next thing. (It’s never-ending so get used to it!)

Each time you’re able to practice this invaluable life tool of playing the opposite game, you WILL feel the results and SEE the fruits of your new choices. Better choices.

Sometimes chaos is goodness in disguise of something we are afraid of. It’s difficult to admit our fear but dangerous NOT TO acknowledge it inwardly. It’s even more critical when we do nothing about it. So many of us know what wrong but do zero about it. Be your own hero, and get changing! Don’t let the emotions and patterns in your life kill your dreams.

Taking Flight

Taking Flight

The coffee chimes, “done!” and I can’t even remember making it. Getting ready to leave for work has turned into a routine that deep down inside is killing me, but, I swipe on some red lipstick, heels, grab my coffee, and go!

I am numb.
I am trying to be grateful.
I am working for Rolling Stone.
I am a robot version of myself.

I turn up Oasis on my mixed CD and force all my thoughts deep down and take a drag on a cigarette. As I drive into traffic, I start to get into a groove and begin to feel good. I think about the weekend and start swaying into your classic car dancing. I stop for another coffee even though I don’t have time. I know I am sabotaging my reliability as an employee on purpose and wait in the long Starbucks line for my weekly splurge that somehow calms down my thoughts of heading to the airport and running away from life itself. I am not happy, and I have no idea how to fix it. Now I have to race to work!

Punching in the secret alarm setting after riding up 13-floors, I feel a sense of my own entrapment, and again I feel guilty for not appreciating what I have instead of what I really want. I don’t even know what I want/need; I just know THIS is not it. Though my title says “Manager,” I feel more like an intern as I make the first pot of coffee for everyone. As people begin to trickle in behind me (Even late I was still always first to the office.) I try not to think about how much I want to leave and take photographs of the trees that are covered in ice. It is Winter here in Michigan, and we just had our annual freezing rain spectacular! Everyone complains about Michigan weather, but this is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen, and on this day it is all I can think about while I secretly wish for a great cover story to take the day off!

I start planning in the back of my mind what I would be doing if I wasn’t chained to this gray cubicle of madness. All of a sudden I snap back to reality and have no idea how I’ve just updated the monthly report… again, I am on automatic. My default answer to everyone is, “I am on top of it!” and I know I am not because there is something else I should be doing with my life. I think about the college courses I have been taking and hope it is going to give me wings. Tonight I have a presentation in class, and I am not even done. The Detroit Auto Show is here, and I have been working over 50 hours a week trying to prepare for the editors coming. Everyone is frantic, and I act like I am not. My rebel kicks in and I feel an urgent need to tell everyone off and leave. It’s not their fault, but it seems like it is at this moment. I know I am getting sick but push that off too because it really doesn’t matter. Day after day, one-weekend blur party after another, this is the scene–I am on rinse and repeat in my own hell I have created. Why do I want to be like them? THIS isn’t me. I am ready for a change but can’t pull the trigger.

Fast forward to October, and I am much worse.

I feel imprisoned, and the Editor of US Weekly rings me. I answer with my default fake voice. She tells me, “You are laid-off, and the clients have broken our most significant contracts.” She is sorry but I must leave the office now, and Human resources would be in touch. Everyone is always sorry it seems, and it never makes us feel better. I have to say; even in that broken moment of mine, it was inspiring to talk with a woman at her level in a career I admire! break down into a black hole of despair following this event which I call my, “intermission.” Deep down inside I know something is finally right for a change even though it looks and feels like a HOT MESS. Sometimes, the worst things that happen to you are just the situations you have refused to face. The universe waited and waited for me to make the right choice, and when I didn’t, life became toxic and began to scream at me in a sense; it is why self-reflection is so critical to your dreams.

I don’t remember how long it took me to realize that my first step was going to be tackling my health. At some point, I decided to quit drinking alcohol, milk and began to heal my body. It took years before my spark for a life fully ignited again. I worked in low-level jobs, so I didn’t have to think as much. I wanted my life back, but first I needed my mind, body, and spirit to be ready for the adventure.

Sitting alone at my desk one day, I began feeling trapped. (again) I decided to take an early lunch and began to drive around town with no destination planned. I wasn’t, and the more I drove, the crazier I felt. It would be a matter of time before I would become a blubbery hot mess again. I had to pull over. I remember a soulful urge that I hadn’t felt in a long time, and it made me smile. The funny thing is I was so vulnerable yet filled with so much passion and a dash of rebellious anger that felt better than being numb as I had been for most of my life. Your emotions in business can destroy you.

I quickly found a gas station, and before I knew it, I was crying uncontrollably at the gas pump. As tears streams down my face, I looked up and seen the beautiful golden arches of McDonald’s. Lol! I knew I had to go in. Before I even got to the counter to order my pity lunch, I saw an old college teacher of mine and went over to say hi. I hadn’t also considered how I must have looked! It must have been dreadful, but I was happy to see anyone I knew from a time when I had some heart. I was grateful to be around another person who knew my talents. Of course, the first question he had was, “How are things going? Where are you working these days?” I could barely keep myself composed and told him the truth, everything was a huge mess, and I was unhappy with my career choices and lack of opportunities. You must know, this was a time when we hadn’t even recovered yet from the economic crash of 2008 here in Michigan. Jobs were a pipedream for so many, and people were working for much less than what they were worth. He was a prominent ad director at an agency here, and I thought I might get a chance at a job. I was wrong.

The next thing out of his mouth was, “Out of all my students I always thought you were going to excel, I was never worried about your career.” I felt electrocuted with pain and shame, yet I listened to what he was up to in his life. I learned that he was unhappy too. I couldn’t believe it! How could someone with such a great job and responsibility be unfulfilled?! (I quickly had forgotten the way I felt when I too had the same kind of experience working in publishing. Because it doesn’t matter how much money you make or what type of job title you have if it is not your souls’ purpose you will be in total misalignment in your life and it hurts.) Our conversation was brief, and I left with a new desire to try again. I almost drove straight home after this life-altering event but quickly realized I had a job and at this point, I had on lunch break for a couple of hours! Upon returning, I had to face the boss who was extremely unhappy with me. He was someone I respected, and this was not the typical situation between us. I think he knew something was wrong, but men tend to want to ignore these instincts and move forward instead of getting involved. Within weeks I wouldn’t see him or that desk again. Looking back I see how lost and found I was all at the same time on this day. I will never forget that day for as long as I live.

In the following weeks, I quit my job and began taking on creative design work again…it had been a LONG TIME. I felt more like ME and this time I was starting new with a clear mind and body. It was exciting but also scary! I felt alone for a long time in this stage and not knowing my future has always been a painful emotion to understand. It is easy to want to run and hide (and actually do that) in this very critical stage. Most people do not move ahead of this confusing and surprising transitional period because it is so hard.

As soon as I lit a fire and began moving towards my goals with clear and passion-filled intentions of getting what I wanted no matter what, my life started to evolve almost instantly! I finally was moving again, and I felt alive! It wasn’t easy but has brought me to a present-day realization that I can do anything I put my mind to and so can you. I did a lot of things that most people can’t do, and began proving to myself that I could rise to the top if I dared to!

I want this for YOU, and I believe in you so much even if we have never met! Because I know that anyone can re-build their life into something that represents their authentic hear and vision when they want to badly enough.

I hope I have inspired you to take some positive actions in your life before it is too late, and I’m grateful you stayed here for a bit to read my story. While it is hard to reveal these personal (and now public) truths, I am comforted by the fact that if I help even one person with this article, then I have done something important in this life. Remember, no one that rises to the top goes unscathed because that would be so boring! #unicorntruth

Alley Jean
Brand Identity & Web Design Unicorn