“A change in purpose changes a system profoundly, even if every element and interconnection remains the same.”
― Donella H. Meadows
Your Mind-Brain-Body is more powerful than you’ve been ‘taught’ to think.
That was the key message of my first workshop over a decade ago. It hasn’t changed since then.
Not enough of us are taught and modeled how incredibly powerful we are not only at adapting at extremely fast rates to our environment, but our ability to share knowledge and new levels of understanding with each other.
Humanity is currently flooded with traps* that are (very intentionally) designed to get us to turn to something external to give us a hit of neurochemicals that satiate us momentarily, until we want more. The beautiful side of those neurochemicals is that they are actually designed to get us to take action, move, grow, challenge, connect with and master ourselves and our world. The feeling of desire of wanting to change is a powerful Nature-Designed tool of evolution.
*three in particular include: Shifting-the-Burden, Drift to Low Performance and Tragedy of the Commons - more on these in an upcoming article)
Desire and preferences are the impulse of evolution in embodied form.
We are not designed to be in the same state all the time - that would lead to stagnation, complacency and dissipation of the physical structure of our body. Fluctuations and feelings of discomfort and desire to change are part of the package of living as a physical entity on planet earth. The challenge is that many of us haven’t learned how to consciously witness, interpret and modify those internal neurochemical fluctuations in adaptive ways that help us achieve a sense of fulfillment, connection, life satisfaction and overall wellbeing.
Instead, the majority of people are stuck in a paradigm of using something external - and often maladaptive or addictive - to change our state. We are also being influenced by outside forces that drive us to keep using the same externally-oriented strategies in very repetitive ways to soothe or stimulate us. As soon as we don't have what we think we 'should' have instantly, we may lose our sense of wellbeing, focus and self-mastery.
Many people are getting lost in comparison with others, or paying too much attention to behaviors of someone else in order to inform their internal state. The world is filled with addictions to others’ reactions. Without them, we find ourselves lost, in a void of what to do, what to focus on, how to be.
If we stay stuck in that paradigm, our mental health suffers - as individuals and as a species.
We must learn how to control our own state - so that if the world seems against us, or not there for us, we still find that inner fire, that internal force to keep us moving, acting, striving, learning, growing, loving, appreciating, evolving.
But the energy-conserving, instant gratification algorithms of our mammalian heritage will not lead us to use our minds in this way by default or by accident. We have to intend to use our mind in this self-regulating, value-adding way and perceive ourselves as capable of doing this.
The world as it is - technology, the education system and most systems in power - will NOT teach us this. They depend on our addiction, and on our sense of inadequacy and reliance on them in order for them to continue as systems.
As someone who has been working in neuropsychology clinics and as a counselor for almost a decade, it’s that Internal Force that I see become weaker and depleted in people who are having challenges with their sense of wellbeing.
There can often be an exaggerated amount of focus and energy being devoted to reacting to others’ behaviors and moods rather than learning how to regulate one's own internal state using a variety of strategies and resources. Because we are born relying on our caregivers to help us self-regulate, this is a learning process all humans have to navigate.
As we mature and evolve, our brain architecture gives us the potential to strive towards a higher state of wellbeing and mastery when we no longer make someone else responsible for our mood. When we can get to that place of self-regulation, we can then bring that state into our connections with others.
When we perceive ourselves as the source of our own power and then harness that within our interactions, this helps us become less reactive to others’ behaviors.
The human brain's prefrontal cortex and executive functioning abilities allows us to do this. That shift into self-mastery helps us use relationships as AMPLIFIERS of our energy, brilliance and strength. Those are relationships worth striving to create.
The added complexity for us humans is that we also must co-exist with others. To function optimally, we need secure attachment and connection - people on our journey who can support us in striving towards our most evolved state.
“You think that because you understand “one” that you must therefore understand “two” because one and one make two. But you forget that you must also understand “and.”
-Sufi teaching story
When we connect with others who believe in our power and brilliance, this helps us remember that internal guiding force within ourselves. In my experience in counseling and coaching, I have seen two forces that help pull someone out of their darkness:
- their own sense of agency (translated into concrete physical action) and
- knowing that even just one person believes in them and their ability to evolve and shine their brilliance in this world.
No medication or brain technology can replicate that. We need voices and models who guide us to get in touch with our own internal source of strength.
We can - through our complex neurobiology - become better at remembering our own power, and how much value we have to add to others. When we become aware of the value we add to the world, this can spark a desire to be healthier, to take care of ourselves, to work, to exert effort, to exude love.
Thought allied fearlessly to purpose becomes a creative force:
one who knows this is ready to become something higher and stronger than a mere bundle of wavering thoughts and fluctuating sensations;
one who does this has become the conscious and intelligent wielder of their mental powers
- James Allen, As A Man Thinketh
With Love From Me to You
On a side note...
I can't even express how excited I am about my Wilderness First Responder training. My heart feels so happy to be learning new skills, in the elements, feeling the fulfilment of adding another building block towards my vision of being away from technology as much as I can, and connecting with nature, and creating a sense of family with like-minded people - fellow 'nomads' connected to a similar mission. I'm also excited to be starting some Brazilian jiu-jitsu lessons at a gym in Calgary. When I did a self-defense class months ago, something happened for me - the feeling of power that came from being able to use my own leverage to push a full grown man off of me during one of the scenarios hit a nerve so deep that I knew I needed more. It did also unlock some childhood trauma as well, but because of the various trainings and groups I am a part of, I was able to harness that energy into healing. I hope to use my learning as I go through more of that embodied-strength-approach to help others understand how movement and leveraging our energy and power is a key to healing. I believe the next generation (and I'm thinking of my niece in particular and many girls her age) would benefit so much from that. I took an archery class a few weeks ago as well, and really, really enjoyed it - it may have been one of my favorite activities so far, so I'm hoping to do some more of that soon (just need to figure out how to fit it all in!)
I'm very grateful and happy to be interviewing Warriors Heart Foundation in a couple of weeks for the Mindset Neuroscience Podcast. I had reached out to them earlier, and had a nice surprise last week in my inbox from them! Details coming soon. I first heard about them from someone who has been one of the biggest inspirations in my life - someone who has helped me - and countless others - tune into my internal strength - that inner force that keeps me connected to a sense of purpose and love for myself and others. His passionate desire to see people be their strongest, most resilient self has ignited so much passion and fire in me to be the best version of myself - and to take on so many new things and new perspectives that have made my life better in exponential ways. I honestly don't have words to express how much his videos, messages, words and voice have played a role in my healing. I actually have tickets to see him at a grand opening event in February in Montana! I'll post more about that and his soon-to-be-published book (which I have already pre-ordered) in an upcoming article.
This is still very early, but I also want to put out there that in order to keep my cost of living as low as possible, I will be looking for shared accommodation/living space in Flathead Valley, MT this spring. March or April would be around the time that I would be looking at - May would be the latest in order to keep my US residency. It could be a situation where I rent an apartment and have a roommate, or find a shared house, etc. If any of you know of any leads that could help me explore cheap living possibilities, please email me! (hello AT stefaniefaye DOT com) - or reply to the newsletter I'll be sending out next week.
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