How to Wash Your Own Brain

Have you ever had someone with a bad case of a winter flu bug come up and shake your hand?

I know. Kind of a personal question. None of my business, really. But I’m pretty sure your answer is “yes” if you can permit your mind to wander about into that bit of memory trivia. Disgusting as it may feel to even recall such times gone by.

We have all been given advice from multiple directions when it comes to warding off the demons of winter influenza, “remember to wash your hands often.”

Having a bit of an OCD tendency myself, I’m rather quick to follow such advice. But not so quick when it comes to another kind of advice seldom rendered despite risk of contagion.

Now I am referring to something I’ll call, “remember to wash your brain often.”

Hate to say it, but there is an epidemic of crazy thinking, speaking, acting……even blogging?…….in our world today. When even our English language dictionaries are beginning to define terms like “fake news” and “post-truth” within this past year, and now the term “alternative facts” is used in defense of our new executive administration in Washington, well, we’ve got a sick society out there coming up to shake heads with us. That’s right. Whether we know it or not, we shake heads daily with people who aren’t feeling well, and who care very little if any about how we’re going to feel after they’ve spread their crazy thinking all over us.

So I was asked this question on Facebook earlier today, “Are there any techniques for sane people to survive this??” Context being a meme about the current state of political affairs in Washington. By the sounds coming from my therapist colleagues in area counseling clinics these days, this is the question of the year, and we’re only just beginning. People are coming out of the woodwork asking for help in staying sane.

Since I’m not getting paid for this, I will venture to grant others their money’s worth with this seemingly glib advice, “remember to wash your brain often.” But the thing is, I’m serious. We really do have to take some precaution to protect our own sanity in a world of increasing insanity, as in epidemic head shaking contagious “let me brainwash you with my own latest alternative facts” insanity.

So how do you wash your own brain?

In today’s counseling clinics, one often hears the term, “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.” As generally applied, this means learning to “re-think” life as soon after it happens as we can. And by re-thinking, I mean taking a look at what our minds say to ourselves about life situations we face and then taking a second look. A second opinion we render for ourselves. Only this time re-wording whatever it is the mind first said to self. Quite often, the mind first says what it has heard others say. Others who may well be speaking crazy talk. And while others are not brainwashing us in any literal sense, it is as if they are shaking heads with us and spreading their own crazy and insane thinking all over us. By repeating someone else’s statements of fact(?) within our own minds, we may come away with one of two basic states of emotion.

Consider yourself for an example.

If your own emotional state is that of “self-love,” that is not a sign of disease. You’ve probably just shaken heads with someone who has told you the truth in love. Someone who loves you as he or she loves himself or herself. When love is spread, leave well enough alone. In fact, go shake someone else’s head and spread your good health.

Notice I didn’t say “self-obsession” or absorbed, preoccupied, conceited. These are all opposite of self-love.

If your own emotional state is that of “self-fear,” then you may well have shaken heads with someone who spreads his or her own self-fear and you may have just been brainwashed not in a good way. You’ve been in touch with someone who is self-obsessed, absorbed, preoccupied, conceited. And now you’re starting to feel self-obsessed yourself. This is when you know it is time to go and wash your own brain.

How?

1.           Rewind the tape. Imagine a remote in your own hands. The camera captured the whole scene, and you can re-play it to see and hear what just happened. What was said to you that you first took to be true? What did you then tell yourself about what this would mean about you if it really was true? If it was an item you just read that left you feeling this “self-fear” state of emotion, go back and read it again before asking what you believed was true at first glance.
2.         Reword the message. Imagine the camera is now on you and you are being asked to have the final word about whether you agreed or disagreed with the earlier comments. And why or why not? This time say it in your words and not those that were just spoken or written to or about you.
3.         Rewash your brain. Imagine the camera had failed to capture your message and you needed to do another take on what it was you believed is true or not true. Consider it a rinse cycle in your wash by saying it again, perhaps using even different words just to get the point across on what you really agreed or disagreed with and why.
4.         Rewrite your response. If at all possible, put your own thoughts into writing as a way of re-minding yourself about what is true and false. Even if you choose not to share what you just wrote, re-read it for your own benefit and know these are your own words for yourself and not someone else’s talking or writing about you.
5.        Reward yourself. Say something positive to affirm yourself for having your own thoughts, beliefs, voice, pen, or post. You have just taken a step forward to survive in today’s world as a sane person! You have just defined yourself as a person of self-love and not self-fear. You have something important to now give to the world, to neighbor as self, and you no longer need to feel self-absorbed or preoccupied with your own insecurities.

We need not be the equivalent of germaphobes in relation to this insane society we live in. Just as we shake a few sick hands, so we will converse with a few sick minds out there. There are a lot of bugs going around these days. Self-fear, obsession and conceit is becoming an epidemic from the top on down in our land.

No worries. When you feel yourself starting to come down with something, and even well beforehand, just go ahead and wash your own brain.  Often.

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