Renegades, We need to talk dating. let me rephrase that. we need to talk about your brain when dating. i know, you’re probably thinking, what does my brain even have to do with dating? i’m here to tell you. Everything.
in order for us to be able to come from a clear headspace when dating, it’s imperative that we understand it. it being your brain. the thing is, most of you think you are approaching dating logically and that it’s your feelings- or in the words of most everyone- how the other person is making you feel, that needs to be addressed. though our feelings certainly play a role, it’s not as big as the one your brain is playing. Today I’m going to break down, in my own way, how your brain operates but more importantly, some specific tools you can use to start managing your mind when dating.
I want you to keep 3 things in mind;
1 even if you’re not dating, i recommend you stay with me. what I’m going teach can be applied to any relationship. this is about how the brain works in general- consider dating a metaphor and fill in the blank with your own situation. but let’s face it, everyone has single friends and who knows, you may be able to help a human out with some juicy advice.
we all know i’m here for it
2 as you listen to me, it’s important that you understand the core philosophy of my coaching work is based on the concept that your thoughts create your feelings/emotions . not the other way around. you don’t have a feeling about something or someone, until you have a thought about it. it’s literally not possible. this concept can be hard to understand, and I will spend more time talking about it on my podcast in the future, but for now, keep that at the forefront of your brain. your thoughts create your feelings.
3. though i’m becoming slightly obsessed with how our brains work and all the juicy parts like amygdala and basal ganglia, (okay I really just like saying the words) I’m not here to teach you neuroscience and you’re not here to learn about that, but it’s imperative that you know what your brain is doing so you can get some authority over it.
basically what i’m trying to say is that this information is going to be delivered the only way i know how to deliver anything scientificy… as simply as possible.
you ready? good.
lets talk about your brain…
Your brain basically contains two brains; Your primal brain which operates off survival and instinct and your prefrontal cortex which is your modern brain that wants to problem solve, reason, plan and focus. These two do not necessarily work well together. Science says, that when you are operating from your primal brain, your modern brain is not engaged. That they don’t work together. Now this. This is a bummer.
this means when you are dating and something happens that doesn’t jive well with you you’ll likely react from instinct if you don’t have the proper tools or skills to respond from your modern brain. And when we react from our primal brain, you can plan on heading straight to crazy town, USA. ohhhh, yes. lets take a look at what that visit can look like;
a guy doesn’t call you back or cancels plans and you start spinning out having conversations with yourself about how this is the last damn time you are talking to this mother fucker and you get on his instagram to see who he’s been with recently and where and then start looking at their facebook’s to find out just Who and What is going on and texting your friends to follow cause their profile is blocked and of course you can’t let them know it’s you, and no of course you’re never talking to him, you’ve already blocked his phone number and turned all your dating apps back on and you could give a fuck and then you find out that his dog died or he was in the hospital with pneumonia – you feel a sense of relief. and immediately start texting your girlfriends, covering your tracks, re-following who you unfollowed… Taking deep breaths. reassuring yourself. you knew it all along. of course he’s into you. breathe. you’re going to survive.
This is your primal brain.
Isn’t she fun?
Now, before you all start talking shit about how your primal brain makes you look and act crazy, lets talk about why your primal brain is not only necessary, but useful, dare I say, beneficial. This part of your brain lets you know when danger is lurking, to eat or you’ll starve, stay warm so you don’t freeze to death, find a person and make babies. We as humans have gotten as far as we have because our drive to survive and instinct to live, comes from the primal brain. The problem is, we are not facing danger the same way we did during the cave days, but our primal brain doesn’t know this. Our primal brain 100% perceives dating as dangerous and is looking for all the ways to survive it.
I was recently talking with a client about dating and here’s what she said:
He never calls me. only texts. if he really liked me, he’d call. He’s not the best communicator and I need communication… I have no idea how he feels about me. He doesn’t really talk about his feelings… Has he even told me i’m beautiful? No. He hasn’t.
I have no idea where I stand with him. he does’t really know me that well. I mean, he likes making me things, but that’s his love language. he makes things for everyone- not just me. does he think i’m just like everyone else? what do we have that’s special.
seems like we are just friends? doesn’t this sound like I’m his friend?
does he talk on the phone with other people? He’ll show me funny things on instagram that he sends his friends that he doesn’t send me. doesn’t he know that I’d think that’s funny too?
Oh my god, what are we doing? what am i doing?
he’s not into me or he’d tell me… he’d use his words. and he’s not. he’s not into me…I need someone who can communicate.
i hate dating. i’m so bad at this. i’m never going to find the guy that knows how to communicate. does he even exist? i’m going to be alone forever.
This is when I ask my clients to re tell me the story, but only the facts.
Your primal brain will take an innocent thought like, ‘he doesn’t call’ and make it mean you are going to be alone forever. Don’t date. It’s scary and dangerous and it doesn’t feel good. Lets stay home and watch people date on netflix. that’s the safe plan says, primal brain.
The crazy, thing is, our brains have 40-60k thoughts a day. And you think, because you’re thinking the thoughts, they must all be true. they are not.
The information spinning around is is a combination of lessons learned from your parents, socialized belief’s, your friends, conditioned beliefs, the media, doctrine beliefs and so on. think about this right now; what is something you were told by your parents a friend or your church youth group in regards to dating/relationships? anything specific come to mind?
Now hang in here with me… I want to give you the good news, but before I can, I need to tell you about this other teeny tiny part of your brain called Basal Ganglia. which, by the way, sounds gangster As Fuck.
You see, your brain, your brain is all about being efficient. like, hyper efficient and does so through this structure or mass called the Basal ganglia. this gang of nuclei is responsible for your physical movements, how you learn and your emotional behavior/output.
In an effort to streamline what we do, our brain sends information to the basal ganglia and it looks at it and says, how can I be efficient at this? what’s the best way to do this? it separates your processes that are successful from the unsuccessful.
Your basal ganglia will identify what you tend to do over and over and hardwire that shit in a neuropathway so you don’t have to think twice about it. This is where your habits get tucked away. This is how you operate without thinking…
Examples of this are driving to work or taking your kids to school, making your bed, brushing your teeth. opening a bottle of wine with dinner. jumping up for a washcloth after sex. checking your phone for texts. you can literally drive yourself home without thinking about it. it’s actually kind of terrifying if you think about it. it’s habitual behavior stored in your brain to make you efficient and use as little energy as possible to go throughout your day.
you’ve done these things so often that you don’t have to think about them anymore. which can be both amazing and not so amazing at the same time. like calling your new lover by your ex husbands name on christmas morning and shocking everyone in the room… this is your basal ganglia.
So not only are we able to walk ,drive, text, put on make up, change a babies diaper all while making dinner but we can talk to someone AND think thousands of thoughts while doing it all.
It’s save us energy and effort. The basal ganglia doesn’t only look to process input and streamline it, but it also identifies the habits or behaviors that you stop repeating, on purpose or not.
Turns out, if you stop doing something on the daily, like check your phone as soon as you wake up to see if someone you’ve been dating has texted you, your neurotransmitters will eventually stop firing off about it and your brain will send the message, stop checking your phone for their texts. this is no longer useful. we don’t care if we hear from them anymore. do not repeat. stop looking for texts from them… and it performs what is called Synaptic pruning and plucks that habit or behavior right out of there. This requires accessing your modern brain… and we are getting to that…
Just know, on a very basic level, this is how you go from doing something all the time and thinking about all the time to not. your basal ganglia. And in the same way it can alter existing neuropathways,
it can, and does create new ones.
Which, if you ask me, is the best news, ever. because contrary to old school thinking, our brains are not fixed; that who you are, how you act, what you do, can change. you can learn new things. you can change your thinking. We can do this because our brains have evolved and we now have a prefrontal cortex or the modern brain, as i like to say. This is the part of the brain that has evolved over time and allowed us to go from instinctive thinking to rational, deliberate, planned thinking.
This bitch is where it’s at. Unfortunately, she tends to hang back while your operate from your primal survival brain. Unless, that is. you start spending time with her on purpose.
THIS IS GOING To REQUIRE EFFORT & ENERGY. and your brain does not like to use up energy if it doesn’t have to. In order to access our higher brain and develop new habits and patterns, we are going to have to THINK differently than we have before. we are going to have to ask questions we haven’t asked before.
It’s important to note; Any habit or behavior that you have that has an intense emotion associated with it will be harder to change. And it will not matter if it’s a positive or negative emotion. your basal ganglia sends the message, we know this feeling. its comfortable. go here. rinse. repeat. We don’t need to think. Your brain can be lazy… this is why we confuse feeling something before thinking it. You are operating from patterns and habits subconsciously.
You ask yourself, why does this keep happening to me. How am I here again?
You have to sit back and identify what your patterns and behaviors are. Who you keep choosing and why. Where you’ve been programmed to go. How YOU show up.
THIS is why practicing AWARENESS and becoming a watcher of your thoughts, is crucial. When you can view your thoughts you can begin to gain massive perspective to any situation simply by asking yourself:“Is that true?” where did i learn that? who taught me that?When did i start believe that? “Do I believe that to be true for me now?”
You will move from spinning out in your primal brain, to your modern brain just by being curious.
As you start to identify these thoughts, decide on purpose if you want to believe them. If you don’t, get rid of them. Make room for new thoughts. Like I said, Your brain will start pruning; you will remove old pathways and create new ones.
Another great practice you can develop is a thought download. If you don’t have a coach to listen to you, it’s okay. you can write the thoughts down and say them out loud. that may sound crazy, but sometimes when i hear myself say something or tell the story that my brain is stuck on, i’m shocked. like I can’t believe i thought i believed what i was thinking…
Remember the thought download I mentioned earlier? My client who can’t find a guy that communicates? He doesn’t want to call, and barely texts? Well, your higher brain may be thinking the same thing about you. She’s just sitting back watching you thinking, damn, this girl does not know how to communicate. if she’d look at this from up here from her modern brain, we could save ourselves so much time and energy. Like, we’d not sit here wondering why this guy doesn’t communicate with us and just ask him if he’s into picking up the phone or not.
(your primal brain just screamed and hid at the mere suggestion… you mean, reach out to him? communicate with him? Are you fucking crazy? WE COULD DIE. Have you not been watching netflix with us??!)
Listen to me Renegades, you want to make your higher brain your best friend. but here’s the deal; she won’t hang out with you 24/7 like your primal brain. And she won’t make getting the answers easier. If anything, she’s a smooth operator who will INSIST you make plans with her every time, who also takes her time. She’s not interested in rushing. She’s playing the long game. She requires planning on your part. She insists that you be deliberate and have focus. She’ll want to look at things from different perspectives and consider all the options.
for example. while you and your primal brain are gossiping between the two of yourselves, thinking you have it all figured out – he doesn’t call you or meet your communicating needs therefore he’s not interested and you’ll be alone forever – your high brain is sitting back compiling all the questions;
Have I asked him how he prefers to communicate?
Did i tell him I’m a verbal communicator?
How am I communicating with him?
Am I communicating with him?
You likely aren’t communicating with him. You and your primal brain are in this alone… keeping you safe and single.
Your higher brain will keep asking questions that require deeper introspection and if you go there might be uncomfortable, but revealing…
Why do I need someone to call me?
What am I making it mean when he doesn’t call me?
Am i willing to tell the people I’m dating that talking on the phone is important to me? why or why not?
Your higher brain is going to put you to work FOR you. she’s going to take the focus off the other person and put it on you.
You will not be motivated in the beginning to go here. You will have to go here on purpose. with purpose. And don’t confuse her with being difficult, but instead trusted and faithful. But you know what? Your Brain THRIVES HERE. this is what they mean about going from surviving to thriving.
When you begin to access your higher brain you will begin to shift. you will gain a different perspective than the one your primal brain has been operating from. You will have awareness.
you will be able to observe how you’ve been showing up and decide on purpose, if that’s how you want to continue showing up. You will slowly start to change your habits and patterns that you didn’t realize you had or felt stuck in and start creating new pathways. It’s not overnight, but it’s possible. to get started, you will begin doing the following;
You can start to get clear by doing what I’ve already mentioned;
1. Start getting awareness around your thoughts. become a watcher, if you will.
2. Practice a daily thought download. 5-10 minutes. bullet point thoughts. don’t journal a story.
3. Separate Fact from Story. when you witness your thoughts or your thought download, look for the facts. what can you prove in a court of law.
4. Access Your Higher Brain to create new behaviors and make new plans-
5. Identify Your Patterns and Behaviors by turning the light on you and away from the other person. Decided if that’s how you want to continue to show up. if not, practice on purpose How you want to.
6. Ask Yourself…
What would I need to know about myself to not take dating personally?
Who do I have to become to approach dating from a positive mindset?
What would I need to learn about myself to be okay with getting turned down?
If rejection wasn’t possible, who would I ask out?
If I could have any future, what would that look like?
If I was the best partner, how would I behave?
On Part 2 of your brain and dating, we are going to discuss the importance of setting boundaries and having your priorities in place. We can start to eliminate some of the static that I believe leads to confusion and often times compromising ourselves.