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November 16, 2010

Stop Believing the Lies You Tell Yourself about Yourself

I've been reading this book called Change your Brain, Change Your life written in 1999 by Daniel G. Amen, an American M.D. who runs the Amen Clinic for Behavioural Medicine.  He specializes in using Brain SPECT imaging for a wide variety of Neuropsychiatric issues including depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc.

SPECT stands for single photon emission computed tomography. It is a nuclear medicine study that uses radioisotopes as tracking devices to look at living brain tissue and highlight areas of the brain that then provide clues about behaviour.

To really oversimplify, the resultant picture of your living brain can provide a lot of information about why you may be reacting, functioning, feeling the way you are and then using checklists and knowledge about medications or supplements, Dr. Amen can help change your behaviour by using the visuals of the scan to provide clues about what - physically - might be going on to manifest as a mental health issue.

Why am I telling you this? I was thinking about the book today at work when I overheard someone talk about the fact that they had recently learned that they didn't have to believe everything they told themself about themself, especially the negative stuff.

They realized that instead of believing that they were incredibly high strung or nervous or moody, they could simply give themselves permission to take a break from the stories they had been telling themselves for years, especially when those stories weren't necessarily true anymore and were rooted in childhood messages that may have been misinterpreted or re-interpreted.

They talked about taking on the persona of a dear friend whose behaviour was at the opposite end of the spectrum from their own and they could then step out of themselves and pretend to be that person when it made sense to do so, when they saw themselves falling into patterns that kept them from moving forward.

I'm not too sure about that part. I can't just step out of myself and become, let's say, Jerry Seinfeld or Goldie Hawn or Queen Elizabeth but I really liked what she was saying about stopping, not reacting, examining the messages that we tell ourselves and reinventing ourselves closer to the truth of who we are now. 

It's not as if I hadn't heard this before - the reality of challenging our thoughts, rather than accepting them outright - but something about the excitement of this person speaking about something she'd recently discovered that worked for her was what caught my attention.

Is there something you have been telling yourself forever that when you truly examine it, isn't really true. Do you have the objectivity to see it and then can you challenge it by proving yourself wrong?

Interesting thought to consider. At least I think so.

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