If you clicked on this because you think I might have lost my mind…….Let me assure you. I have actually found my mind, how to look at it and how to manage it!
First let me say that none of the information I am sharing with you is new. These concepts have been around for a VERY LONG time. What is perhaps new here is my imagery of the process. I am a very visual person and find that simplifying concepts to the basics and building from there helps me to solidify information. When I make it concrete in my brain, I can then build from there to a deeper knowledge.
I have also found that other people appreciate this creative approach as well!
Way back in nursing school (the 90’s!! long before the internet, YouTube, Wikipedia and instant access to amazing tutorials and videos that we now have access to), I found a different approach.
We were learning about the immune system. If you have studied the immune system you know there is a lot involved! There are T-cells, B-cells, Helper-T cells, plasma cells, macrophages, lymphocytes and so many more components and processes. It can be very overwhelming when, not only do you need to learn the system, but you are trying to grasp new vocabulary as well. I went to the children’s section of my local library (using the Dewey decimal system, yep!) was able to locate a beautifully simple illustrated book on the immune system. This book was colorful, creative and gave life to the battle that goes on in our bodies when we have a foreign invader trying to take over. There were colorful, strong characters created for each of the cells, transformed into cartoon warriors. Each of their functions was clearly and simply defined and etched into my brain with a memorable story. Once the basics were secured I was able to move forward and build on the simple concepts to learn more and go deeper. My brain was ready!
Since that time I have used this process again and again to learn and grow. I have created the word Imaginalogy to describe it. This means using vivid imagination to create a colorful, detailed, memorable analogy. As a budding artist throughout nursing school I kept a sketch book along with my notebooks and whenever possible converted systematic concepts in to simple picture stories. I continue this process today. I learned a long time ago that the more detailed and nonsensical you make your images the more likely you are to retain the information.
So…YOUR GOD, YOUR GENIE AND A BABY PILOT ON YOUR LAPTOP
I am talking about our mind, our thoughts and how we manage them.
You can imagine or use this process without God. However, in My story God is above our brain, present and powerful. When I don’t have the ability, I know and believe that He does. He gave us life, a brain and free will. We are free to make any decision we choose. I made a decision and I am believer. This foundation provides security that gives total freedom. You can apply a “higher power” or the universe or stick with your genie as the top dog, this is your story! You decide.
Ok, so first imagine this. There is your brain…the noodley, cauliflower looking thing that sits within your skull. Now imagine at the top front of this organ sits your genie. My genie looks like a cross between Will Smith’s and Robin William’s animated genies (from Disney’s Aladdin) with a hint of myself in the beautiful vibrant purple/blue ethereal presence. My genie lives in a lamp but is becoming present more often as I get better at becoming and staying mindful. Remember…the more detailed and outlandish the image the more you will remember it!
Your genie is your frontal brain, the prefrontal cortex. The part of your brain that is able to make decisions, to notice that you are sitting in a chair or talking with your friends. Your genie has the ability to “notice” when you are feeling angry, sad or happy. It is the part of your brain that is rational and thoughtful. It is the part of you that allows you to think about what you are thinking about! It is AWARENESS. It is powerful.
LAPTOP, PILOT, BABY
In my story, your laptop is your lower brain. Let’s go back to the cauliflower organ. Your laptop sits at the base of the cauliflower (My laptop is a small dell notebook with a blue case). This is your “lizard” brain. This is the part of our brain that simply, automatically responds. Why a laptop? A laptop can be programmed. We can decide what to input in our computer and we can run old programs. Our laptop runs all the programs we have built in our lives. This often includes thought patterns we developed as children and throughout our lives. For some that looks like “you will never be good enough”, “you can’t do that”, etc…
Now, I imagine a little (bald, fat, sweet) baby wearing a pilot’s hat, sitting at the laptop typing away! Yes, this is very silly as babies don’t have the manual dexterity to type! The pilot hat represents our autopilot mode. This is when we are working without our genie. We are simply reactionary, running on habit. This can be a good or bad thing depending upon what habits we have created. Is your auto pilot helpful or hurtful to you? When something happens does your autopilot go negative and bring you down? Or do your automatic thoughts create stability and allow you to move forward with confidence? My story includes a baby because babies are loving, miraculous creatures. Who doesn’t love a baby? Even though babies are wonderfully and beautifully made, we would never leave them unattended. Why? Because it would absolutely, at no fault of its own, hurt itself! If we leave our baby (pilot hat on) in charge of inputting our automatic thoughts into or running our laptop, they can really hurts us without even knowing it.
Putting it together
Our brain is working all the time! Either, the genie or the baby pilot is running the show. When stress occurs and we have an automatic response, it is the baby pilot in control. This is not always a bad thing. If you just need to get away or get through a situation it could be that the baby pilot is effective. Sometimes your genie and your baby pilot are battling for control. Our automatic thoughts can be very powerful! Sometimes we believe they are facts because we have thought them so many times over and over.
You get an email over the weekend from your boss stating only that he wants to meet with you first thing Monday morning.
What happens in your brain?
Does your baby pilot take over the laptop furiously typing input that you are in danger of losing your job? Do your autopilot thoughts include things like “I knew this was coming, I am a failure, I should have known, this always happens to me, so and so would have been better at this, I am just not good enough!”. If this is how your baby pilot responds you can seek your genie!
Do you engage your genie? Does your genie just show up or do you have to rub the lamp? This is a practice that takes practice! If your genie (and remember it’s all you) does not step in quickly you can make contact! How? By grounding yourself through breath work or prayer. You can simply find a quiet place and breath slowly and deeply focusing your thoughts on your breath or your physical body senses. You can only think about one thing at a time. Many of us think we are multi task thinking. In reality we are thinking a lot of thoughts in a row but only one at a time. If you focus your thoughts on your breath, you bring your awareness into your body. You are connecting with your genie, your frontal brain. The thoughtful part of you!
Once your genie is present (you are in awareness) you can think about what you are thinking about. You can direct the input into your laptop. You decide what thoughts to focus on that will serve you in this situation. You could choose to think about what has gone right with your job this last week, month or year. You could imagine the great reasons your boss might want to meet with you. You could remind yourself that this meeting is FOR you regardless of the content. There is definitely something that is going to benefit you from this meeting. You know that there are numerous possible outcomes and at this point because you have no information, you can create any story you want. This is a growth mindset.
For the next day or so (or every minute) your baby pilot may try to take over the laptop with habitual thoughts. Sometimes that baby will get ahold of the keyboard and spin you out with negativity. Because habitual thoughts are deeply trenched they can be very powerful. It may take calling your genie in to action over and over. For me this is where God’s presence is evident. When I am able to know without a doubt that God has me in the palm of his hand no matter what happens (pain, illness, loss and death) I can truly let go of my fear and allow my genie to put the baby pilot to bed and reprogram my lap top with input that serves me.
This happens in scenario after scenario in our lives day after day with situations that are big and small. Things happen; we have thoughts about that thing which cause us to feel a certain way. The way we feel drives us to take action and as always, our actions produce a result.
We have 3 options. We can change the “thing” or we can change our thoughts. Or the third option is to decide (in awareness) to accept the “thing”, our thoughts and the result knowing that challenges occur to everyone and that negative emotions are normal and okay. We can experience the emotion (fear, sadness, anger) without resistance, knowing that the emotion will not kill us. When we can process our circumstance in full awareness (genie engaged), we can connect with our higher power in a powerful way and/or we can experience life's roller coaster ride in an intentional and meaningful way.
Notice, I did not say easy. I said simple.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
Managing our thoughts (genie and baby) is connected to everything in our lives. We can have better relationships, work success, physical health and more! What matters to you? What do you want to create in your life before the final check out? (We are ALL checking out at some point!)
What are you doing to make that happen? What are you waiting for? What needs to happen before you take action? What do your regret right now? What do you want to change? How will that affect your life?
If you are ready to make change in your life….if you are tired of your life “as is” please reach out.
I can help you.