The Freedom Moms Podcast Coaching with Crystal Noelle

S02 E04 - Parenting Hack #3

Jun 07, 2021


Your brain loves all or nothing thinking. The primitive brain is the source behind this thinking, because these thoughts often keep you stuck in a safe place and out of growth. Learn this quick hack that can shift your thinking and unlock your potential. Your primitive brain is a lot like a toddler, whiny, loud and usually totally unrealistic too. It’s not a problem that your brain is like this, but it is helpful to find some ways to combat it’s toddler-dom and get back in charge of your thinking.

What we cover in this episode:

  • What the primitive brain is and why it keeps us stuck
  • The growth mindset brain and moving towards discomfort
  • A tool to help us shift to the “middle” thoughts and out of all or nothing thinking


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Full Transcript


Hey, I'm Crystal, a certified life coach and Mama four. In this podcast we combine radical connection and positive parenting theories with the How to life coaching tools and mindset work to completely transform our relationship with our children. Join me on my journey, unleash your inner parenting expert and become the mother you've always wanted to be. Make sure you subscribe wherever you listen to your podcast and rate this podcast on Apple. And check out my transformative monthly membership for moms in the show notes.



Episode Four, parenting Hack number three. Now this hack is kind of twofold, I'm gonna give you two little secrets that work really well for me and for my clients. But first of all, I have to tell you what the problem is. Now the problem that we're solving is our all or nothing brain. Have you ever heard about this, that our brain is all or nothing, our brain is very black and white, doesn't like to think in the shades of gray in between that black and that white just going to give you one option, or the other. And in fact, it likes to swing back from black to white and white to black all of the time. I'm going to tell you how this works. So it doesn't like to be in that center space. When this comes to parenting. On the one hand, we have permissiveness not telling your kids to do anything kind of just letting them do their own thing, being their friend, not really giving them any guidance. And then on the other end is fear based parenting. One is lack of control, the other is control. So fear based parenting would be yelling, threatening bribes, rewards, punishments, all of that. And our brain likes to hold on to one end or the other most of the time. And then it feels like if we give up on the one side that that means we our only option is to go to the other. So this could look like, you know, typically being a very controlled parents, maybe a lot of rewards and a lot of punishment, and yelling and bribes and threats and all of that. And then when we feel like there is another option, and we're like, okay, I can't do this anymore. It's too stressful and it's not working, then our brain gives us what the only other option available is, which is permissiveness, let's just not do anything, let's just let our children raise themselves, right, that's what our brain thinks is available to us. Now, this also comes into play with eating. So on the one hand, we're going to have control. So very controlled diet, maybe we weigh our food and weigh ourselves and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. And maybe we're vegan, I don't even know whatever your food thing is. It's very controlled, and very specific. And maybe over time, you're going to get overwhelmed or stressed out or burnt out can feeling that control all of the time. And so then you swing to the other end where you're like, Okay, whatever, I'm going to eat whatever I want. Now, this is the problem with fad diets. So fad diets are ones that kind of go in and go out. Not everything that I just mentioned is a fad diet, for sure. But there are some fad diets that kind of come in and go out. And so we do one, we think that it's amazing, everybody else is doing it and getting great success. And we're like, oh, we're gonna do this. And we do it. And we feel really controlled. A lot of the time we feel deprivation. And so then over time, we're going to give up, and we swing all the way to the other end. And the other end is, you know, I'm just going to eat all the food, I'm going to eat junk food, and I'm not going to watch what I eat at all. And I'm going to eat at McDonald's three times a day. So our brain tells us that those are the only two options. Okay, now let's use another example. What about working this happens to me all the time, I'm not just saying this is a you problem, I'm saying this is an us problem, this is what our brain does. So with working again, control. So overworking, working a ton having everything structured and planned and laid out and really busy all of the time. And then we get stressed out, we get overwhelmed, we burned out. And then on the other end of the spectrum, we're like, well, now I'm not gonna do anything, it's not working, I'm just gonna, you know, lay around and not do any work at all. Our brain likes to do this all or nothing thinking this swinging back and forth. If you think about a teeter totter, it's easy to be at the top of a teeter totter. And it's easy to be at the bottom of the teeter totter. But it's pretty hard to balance in the center. It takes a lot of work and effort to sit there in the middle and kind of be moving back and forth and shifting things. And staying in that center space. It's so much easier to be on one end of the continuum or the other. That is what are all or nothing thinking is like. So I want you guys to think about the primitive brain. I don't know if you remember me talking about this, but the primitive brain is our highly emotional brain. It's also very illogical. And I like to call it when I'm talking to kids or teenagers, the lizard brain. So this is our little animal brain, right? So our primitive brain wants to avoid pain, conserve energy and seek pleasure. what it wants is comfort and homeostasis. So it wants everything to feel the same. So if things are feeling the same, then it's going to Just go on, keep doing its thing and everything's great. But when something starts to feel uncomfortable, your brain is gonna go, something's gone wrong, like an alarm bell, this alarm bells gonna go off. And it's going to tell you, we need to go back to homeostasis, what can we do to go back to conserving our energy avoiding pain and seeking pleasure. And when it comes to pain, it's not just physical pain, but it's also perceived emotional pain. So don't say that weird thing your friends might not like you don't wear that weird item of clothing your friends you might not fit in, right? There's all these other kinds of things that kind of



add on to that perspective as well. So we have this primitive brain, it's telling us all of these things saying, you know, let's sit here and just do nothing. And that is what is adding to this whole idea of all or nothing thinking.



Because it's telling



you that you have to be on one end or on the other end. So your primitive brain might be telling you things like, you're not doing enough, you're not good enough. Don't do that. That's weird. That was really awkward, you shouldn't have said that. And it wants to really keep you safe, what it thinks is safe, and keeping you safe is keeping you the same, same thoughts, same feeling, same results you've always had in the past, and now just wants everything to be the same because it doesn't like discomfort. So a great example of this is, if I was a teenager, and I had a math test to study, maybe you're not even a teenager, maybe you're an adult going to university, you have a math test to study for tomorrow, your higher brain is going to be thinking things like we should study and plan and prepare. And we should go to bed early and get a good sleep. Your lower brain is thinking that does not sound like fun, I do not want to do that I'm going to sit on the couch and eat Cheetos and binge watch Netflix. That's what your lower brain is going to tell you. And often we give into those lower brain urges, because they feel easy, and they feel fun. They feel comfortable. But over time, there is a lot of discomfort. I like to call our primitive brain a liar, because it likes to tell us that like no, this will be easy and comfortable. But usually the easy and comfortable is kind of a payoff for future discomfort. Right? Because if you just sit on the couch and eat Cheetos, you're not going to do well on that exam. And you might have to take the entire class all over again, that might not be very comfortable. Now, this happened to me recently, not the math example. But another primitive brain example. I wanted to go to bed early, I wrote on my calendar, I'm gonna go to bed early, then it got to be bedtime. And I'm like, Well, that doesn't sound like fun. It would be much more fun to start a movie. I'm just going to start a movie, but I'm going to watch it for a little bit. Have you ever told yourself that, I'm gonna just watch it for a little bit. And then it keeps going on and going on and going on and like, okay, I'll just fast forward so that it goes by faster. And sure enough, before I know it, it's like midnight, and I haven't gotten to sleep early. And then I'm exhausted in the morning. So at the time, it feels good, and it's fun. And then in the morning, I'm super tired, it's hard for me to get my work done. It's hard for me to get up and, you know, do do the things with the kids that I want to be doing. That is our primitive brain. So the opposite of our primitive brain is the growth mindset brain. The growth mindset brain instead, seeks growth, embraces discomfort, and expends massive amounts of energy wisely. So it's okay with expending energy, but it also does it in such a good way. It's also okay with discomfort. In fact, it's all about discomfort because it knows that discomfort is actually the currency of our dreams, it actually means growth, that that uncomfortable feeling that we're feeling means goodness for us in the future, that that's actually a good thing to have. So although our primitive brain is going to go back to let's do that homeostasis thing, let's go back to comfort let's conserve this energy, our growth mindset brain instead, our future forward thinking brain is going to say discomforts, okay, that's fine. So learning to live intentionally in every area of your life is going to create a lot of discomfort, parenting with intention. Having relationships with intention with your family, and with your friends and the people around you, all of that is going to take intentional effort, and it's also going to take a lot of discomfort. So we need to get used to that discomfort and manage our mind around it, because it's really the only path to growth. So how do we hack this primitive brain of ours and move into this growth brain instead, our default brain is our primitive brain. That's just like our Spotify playlist, like you know that most played playlist, you go listen to your music, and then it just tells you what you want to hear. And it's always such a good job on mine. It's like, listen to this, listen to this, listen to this, and just shows me all the songs that it knows that I'm gonna like, and I'm like, yeah, these are all the things I want to listen to. So it's like this most played playlist, and it knows what you want to listen to. And it's just gonna feed it to you again, and again. And again. It's like the default. So the primitive brain is really just your default brain. So understanding that and knowing that first is going to be a super powerful step to change. noticing that your brain is going to give you this default thinking all of the time. And that's okay, that's going to happen. So now I'm going to give you two kind of little mini hacks that you can use to help with this frame. Number one, one way to hack it is to do a thought dump. So we've talked about that times before, right? You just write down all of your thoughts you go through and you sort the thoughts from the facts, you can go back and question them. Does this feel good? Is it useful? Is there any evidence of the opposite being true? Would everybody agree with the story that I have about myself. But the extra added step you're going to do here, before you get to the questioning






is to write a P, the letter P for primitive brain, next to any thoughts that may be coming from the primitive brain. Now, most of my thoughts, if I'm feeling kind of down, or discouraged, or frustrated, or stressed are going to be primitive brain thoughts. This is too hard. This isn't fun. I don't want to do this. I just want to eat a milkshake and eat Oreos, and stay up late and not do any of the hard stuff. Right, there's going to be a lot of primitive brain thoughts that come up. So number one is just noticing all of the thoughts that are coming from the primitive brain. And just acknowledging that these are my primitive brain thoughts, these are my lower brain thoughts. It wants to conserve energy, it doesn't like anything that's not homeostasis. And that's okay. We can just recognize and acknowledge that. Number two, another way is with the power of and so going back to the beginning, when we talked about this all or nothing thinking, one of the ways that all or nothing thinking comes in is in people pleasing. So I heard Greg McEwen talk about this. In essentialism, I was listening to him talk about his book at a conference one time, and he was talking about how our mind tells us that the only options available for people pleasers is to say rude, no, or a polite, yes, those are the only two options, right? It's so dichotomous, it's like one or the other. That's it. But really, there's those 1000 shades in between that all or nothing thinking, so many different responses that we could give that aren't either of those. So one way to kind of let our brain know and acknowledge that it's not just this all or nothing thinking there is a center space here. And that center space can be a good positive, balanced middle, like we're sitting on that teeter totter, it might be a little bit uncomfortable, you might have to shift around a little bit, but we can sit there. And one way to do this is through the power of ad. So you're going to write out all your problem thoughts again, just like you did in the last all of those thoughts about how I don't want to do this, it's too hard, it doesn't feel good, I always fail, especially the ones that seem really true to you. So maybe things like parenting is hard. I'm not good at this. I'm a bad mom, this is a big deal. My child hates me, my child doesn't want to spend time to me, with me, my partner and I aren't on the same page. Those are all thoughts. So first of all, write out all those thoughts, all the ones you think are really true. And then we're going to add some ends here. So what else could be true as well, let's just imagine for a second that that story is true. And let's add an end. So I yelled at my kids, and I'm still a good mom, I yelled at my kids, and I'm learning. I'm failing. And I'm learning. My partner and I aren't on the same page. And that's okay. And we can learn from each other. And we're growing. My child doesn't want to communicate with me, and I can love them anyways, we can communicate in other ways that aren't words. So I just want you to think about what is an ad for you with each of those problem thoughts, and kind of get into that middle ground space, like you're sitting there balancing on the teeter totter, and kind of swinging that all or nothing thinking back to the center. Because our primitive brain is so good at all, or nothing thinking and it is our default, it is our go to, it's just going to happen. So recognizing that it's happening, and then helping it shift to the center. And these two ways, again, are doing a thought dump and then going back and writing out a letter P next to all of the thoughts that might be coming from your primitive brain. And then number two is to add the power of and to your problem thoughts. So what could also be true here? Let's imagine that your thoughts are true, the thoughts you wrote down? And what, what else could be true? what's on the other side of that continuum for you? And how can you kind of balance in the center space there. It's really powerful to even just acknowledge that our brain is all or nothing, everybody's brains it are in pretty much every situation. And recognizing that is the first step. And then just using these little hacks, these little mindset tools to help us kind of conquer those will be super, super helpful. So good luck, and we will see you next week.



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