All day long I make up stories in my head. I guess at what other people are thinking; I skid down the grooves in my brain that were carved as I navigated my childhood (and the grooves that came from the “pickling” of my young brain from my childhood in a cult); I play a movie that kicks up my anxiety, worry, and fear.
What a concept (thank you Rick Hanson) that I get to choose and write the inner movie that plays in my brain!
I’ll admit, it takes some effort to wrap my head around this radical notion that I can have fundamental agency over my inner movie. That I get to choose what I’m watching inside my thoughts…no matter what other people are doing or saying. (That’s my favorite part! The hardest part, but my favorite part.)
It takes effort like it does when I still sometimes have to work hard to understand “you can’t know something before you know it” – that a therapist shared with me decades ago. I still slip into “I should have known that already.” No matter how many times I try to take in this concept, I still stumble over “I should have known that already.”
Yes, stuff happened to me and around me when I was young, and my child brain misinterpreted much of it, took on responsibility for much of it (responsibility that was in no way mine to take on), and devised ways to anticipate others’ thoughts, reactions, moods, and needs so that I could adjust myself accordingly and head off danger and repercussions.
And yes, my cult not only instilled very specific movies into my brain and being, but also taught me that any time I doubted those movies or I thought for myself, I was being taken over by Satan. So, perhaps needless to say, I learned to never doubt those movies or to think for myself.
But I was a child then, and I am an adult now. Well into adulthood some might add. And I do have a choice what movies play in my head, or at least what movies play on a seemingly endless loop. Or at least how long I let a movie play before I stop it or replace it with something better.
As I’ve written many times and in many places (and I say it even more), our brains have evolved to notice the “negative” and “bad” and to miss the “positive” and “good.” To act like Teflon for the good and Velcro for the bad. But, again, I am an adult, and I do, now, have choices. (Check out Rick Hanson’s Positive Neuroplasticity Training course.)
I can create a place of freedom and fundamental sanctuary inside myself. I can choose to be nice to myself (and even nicer to myself). I can claim my own fundamental agency over my own inner movie.
I can play a movie I like. And I can Love. With. All. My. Heart.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!