Our brains suck.
I know. Not the awe-inspiring intro you were hoping for. Don’t worry – we’ll get to that.
There’s a spiraling black hole in your brain that, if you let it, can drive you absolutely mad. Tell me if this sounds familiar…
You wake up in the morning feeling overwhelmed by all the things on your to-do list, and your goals seem tirelessly out of reach. You start overthinking the past and worry, desperately, about the future.
In fact, you’re so worried about the future that you become worried about how much you’re worrying. Now you’re double worried. And so, you crumple up the to-do list and heave it into the trash bin yelling, “Kobe” as it sinks into the endless pile of other to-do’s you failed to do, yesterday.
No, just me?
Okay, let’s say you’re depressed. The anxiety of waking up tomorrow and surviving another day from hell cripples you. You feel trapped, alone, and can’t see a way out. Then, you start wondering why you’re so anxious.
Now you’re becoming anxious about being anxious and it makes you feel even more sad and alone. And then, you think to yourself, maybe if I fall in love with my anxiety, it will leave me too. Oh nooo, the panic is attacking me.
Quick, where’s the White Claw? Let’s drink the anxiety away…
I call this the Brain Spiral from Hell.
Others, like therapists or doctors, refer to it as a panic attack or a manic episode. To each their own.
Brain Spirals from Hell have become dear friends of mine over the years. And by friends I mean, they torment me daily and I hate everything about them. Great friends, right?
Just because I wrote a book about my depression, doesn’t mean it magically goes away. I wish that were the case because that would be awesome. Sadly, it is not.
Likewise, people saying things like, “You’ll be fine, it’s just a phase…” or “stop overthinking, it’s all in your head…” doesn’t help much either.
Newsflash… telling someone with a mental illness, “You’re not really sick, it’s all in your head…” is like telling someone with asthma, “It’s not real, it’s all in your lungs.”
My depression is very real. And everything I’ve gathered tells me it’s not going away anytime soon. But, if there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that spending today complaining about yesterday certainly won’t make tomorrow any better.
So I fight, every day. And every day all the darkness I thought I left behind comes creeping back in, forcing me to face another demon.
And you know what? That’s okay. It’s okay because I’ve found ways to fight my demons and I’m even going to show you how to do it, too.
Here’s How To Reboot Your Brain In 10 Seconds…
They say brilliant people have the most persuasive demons. I read recently that Oscar-winning screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin, takes up to eight showers per day to fight his demons, collect his thoughts, and revive his creativity.
The Social Network and A Few Good Men scribe said this, “I take six to eight showers a day. I’m not a germaphobe, it’s not like that. I find them incredibly refreshing and when writing isn’t going well, it’s a do over…I will shower, change into new clothes, and start again.”
And that’s just it. You have to find ways to start again, everyday. You need to create small wins in your life that trigger a do over in your mind.
For me, taking eight showers a day is out of the question. I don’t have millions of dollars like Aaron Sorkin and certainly can’t afford a water bill like his.
So, I found my own way.
When I start to feel a Brain Spiral from Hell come on, I immediately drop down and do 10 push-ups wherever I am. I’m not kidding.
There are times when I’m walking down the street or in line at a coffee shop and my thoughts start to go south – so I drop down and do 10 push-ups to reboot my brain and clear my thoughts.
And yes. People look at me like I am a giant weirdo and I don’t care. It’s what works for me. And if I have to do something that labels me a ‘weirdo’ to keep from spiraling out of control, then so be it. I’ll do it, joyfully.
But Ryan, why push-ups you weirdo? Well, friend, I’m glad you asked…
Self-doubt, stress and negative emotions are inevitable. They will hit you at unexpected times, in unexpected ways, and it will unexpectedly suck. So, to deal with self-doubt in one arena, all we need to do is accomplish something in a different one.
Call them small wins if you will.
When we experience any kind of emotional pressure our bodies produce a “fight or flight” stress hormone. And once the threat is gone, stress levels go back to normal.
The secret to coping with these unexpected emotions is to detox your mind the same way you detox your body when you drink too much White Claw and lay in bed hating everything about yourself…
By removing ourselves from those spiraling thoughts of self-doubt and creating a small win, we reboot our brains and show it that we can accomplish something.
So, I force myself to get out of bed and keep fighting. And then, right after I finish that last push-up, I say something like, “f you brain, not today.”
Ryan 1, Brain 0.
We’re not meant to suffer in silence. The only way to shift the spiral and change our negative emotions is to acknowledge they exist. Sitting in silence and allowing ourselves to spiral doesn’t do anyone any good.
So, if you want to be happy, you have to do things you’ve never done before. Even if that means doing push-ups at a coffee shop like a total weirdo.
If you allow your mind to spiral and continually search for things that are wrong with you, eventually it will find something. The same applies for things that are great about you.
So I say get out of bed, do a push-up and search wisely today, friend. Because I think you’re pretty great.
That’s all I got for now. Stay tuned, friends ✌️