Have you ever struggled to turn off your negative thinking or wished you had a way to train your brain to focus in a more positive way? Maybe you’ve felt powerless to stop worrying about pelvic pain symptoms or obsessing that they’ll never go away. Or perhaps you’ve found yourself believing a never-ending stream of self-critical thoughts – like you can’t do it, there’s something deeply wrong with you, or no one will understand.
Thoughts like this lead to anxiety and depression – and of course, increase pelvic pain!
And it’s very likely that you’re aware of this but sometimes find it virtually impossible to stop that stream of negative thinking anyway.
If so, you’re not alone! Every woman (and man) I’ve worked with or spoken with who has suffered with pelvic pain has struggled with negative thoughts – about their symptoms, themselves, and lots of other things!
The good news is that these thoughts will not stop you from relieving pelvic pain symptoms, or anxiety. You don’t have to turn them off. You just need to learn a new way to respond to them.
More than training your brain, you need to train yourself how to respond to your brain.
The reality is that this constant stream of negative thinking, is actually completely normal – and at the same time it isn’t true, it means nothing, and it has no power over you (even though it totally seems like it does!).
You have all the power – and I’m going to show you how to access it with my “sure-fire, super-quick, super-easy, get-back-in charge-of-your-brain (and reconnect to your passion, energy, and enthusiasm) in under 5 minutes” trick.
It’s a simple way to flip the switch in your mind from what I call your “Lizard Brain” (aka the old reptilian part of your brain) to what I call your “Soul Brain” (the more evolved part of your brain that allows you to access the truth of who you are.
Let’s start with an overview of your brain.
Please keep in mind that I am a coach and mentor and not a neuroscientist. This is going to be a super simplified, but very effective and practical way to view your brain for the purposes of working with your thoughts.
I see the brain as having these 2 basic parts.
- The Lizard Brain (un-evolved and pretty much on auto-pilot)
- The Soul Brain (more evolved and user activated)
In every moment we actually have a choice about which part of our brain we will use. Even though it doesn’t feel like we have a choice, we do.
Both of these parts of our brain are equally accessible AT ALL TIMES.
The reason it feels like the Lizard Brain has the upper hand is very likely because of its autopilot feature (which was adaptive when we lived in caves, but doesn’t serve us very well in modern times). For more information on the lizard brain and other effective ways to work with it read “How to Think Positively When You’re in Pain.”
The hardest part about choosing to think from your Soul Brain is getting past the illusion that you are powerless over your Lizard Brain – or that you have to believe what it says!
In other words, the crux of healing your body, accessing your emotions and intuition, and living a joyful life is learning how to:
- Identify when you’re lizard brain is active and what it’s saying
- Recognize that this stream of thought means nothing (other than that you have a normal healthy lizard brain).
- Recognize that you have the power to access your soul brain and as a result think different (and more true) thoughts.
- Flip the switch – move out of your Lizard Brain and into your Soul Brain.
A little more on these two parts of the brain…
When you’re thinking things like….
- I can’t do it.
- What if this pain never goes away?
- I’m a failure.
- I’m not good enough.
- I’m a bad mother, partner, friend, etc.
- I’m doing it wrong.
- I’m useless.
- Or any other thought that makes you feel bad (i.e. anxious, depressed, tense, etc. )…
You are thinking from your “lizard brain” – that part of your brain that is like a billion years old, located in your brain stem, and who’s sole purpose is to constantly scan your environment for potential danger in an attempt to keep you safe – which might be helpful if say you were a lizard! (For humans it just creates a bunch of health problems.)
We all have a Lizard Brain, and everyone’s lizard brain is active almost all the time. Remember, it’s on autopilot. When you’re stuck in or believing your lizard brain, you don’t feel good, and the way you are thinking is very likely making your pain worse.
The goal is not to permanently turn off your lizard brain (which is impossible), but instead to discover that you don’t have to listen to it!
You have a choice.
(Teaching you how to recognize and exercise that choice is what this post is all about!)
Luckily, the lizard brain is only one tiny part of your brain. And, in addition to a lizard brain you also have a soul brain.
Anatomically, what I call the soul brain is located in your pre-frontal cortex. It is the more evolved part of your brain (the newer part of your brain) and it is the part of your brain that is connected to your body, your soul, and your intuition. Your soul brain houses your inner cheerleader, but it’s not just a cheerleader, it’s directly connected to the bigness and the truth of who you are as a soul. It knows your path. It can dream and make plans. It knows you are worthy and capable, and it can give you very detailed information to help you get where you want to go.
Unlike lizard brain thinking which feels bad…when you are thinking from your soul brain you feel good. You may feel lighter or tingly or expansive or hopeful.
That good feeling is your soul saying, “Yup! Now we’re talking!”
When you’re thinking from your soul brain you not only have access to your body’s wisdom about what it needs to heal, you are actually in a more relaxed physiological state – which activates healing.
So how do you switch from your Lizard Brain to your Soul Brain?
First, you have to dismantle the illusion that your lizard brain actually holds any power or speaks any truth.
Pulling Back the Curtain
Most women, when they start becoming more aware of their thoughts, experience their lizard thoughts as true.
They hear…”You’re never going to relieve this pain. You can’t do it. You’re doing it wrong. What if you have _________ (fill in worst possible incurable illness you can imagine)? You’re not good enough. You’re useless, lazy, bad.” Etc. etc. etc.
…and instinctively they believe it.
After all, it’s somewhat natural to believe that your brain is telling you the truth
But it’s not the truth.
Those thoughts are nothing more than the expected and completely meaningless chatter of the lizard brain.
There’s nothing wrong with you for thinking these thoughts. We all do. The key is learning that they are simply just thoughts. They are not necessarily true, and you don’t have to struggle with them.
You can simply choose to think other thoughts.
And, you CAN do that. Even if it doesn’t feel like you can. (I know this from lots and lots and lots of experience!)
You know the scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy, the lion, the tin man and the scarecrow go in to talk to the great and powerful Oz – a giant green head floating in space, complete with smoke and a booming voice? The four friends cower as he speaks. But then, Toto runs over and pulls back the curtain to reveal a (kind of goofy) man operating the controls. And poof. The illusion disappears. There is nothing big, powerful, or scary about the Wizard of OZ. He’s just a goofy man behind the curtain.
That’s exactly what lizard brain thoughts are like. When you first start becoming more conscious of them, they can feel like the great and powerful Oz, totally scary and in control. But the reality is, it’s all smoke and mirrors. There’s nothing big, powerful or scary there. It’s just a thought. And a thought can be changed.
You have the power to pull back the curtain.
Flipping the Switch
There are lots ways to switch out of Lizard Brain thinking and into Soul Brain thinking, but the simplest and easiest one that I use most regularly is this…
- Write the Thoughts Down: When you notice that you are worrying, criticizing, judging, or doing any of the other things your lizard brain does that make you feel bad – or if you’re just feeling anxious, or stuck, or like you want to hide under the covers – get out a piece of paper and a pen and start writing. Write down every thought you’re aware of that’s scaring you – and then look for more. I cannot overemphasize the power of getting those thoughts out and on paper where you can look at them and decide whether or not you want to continue thinking them. Doing this in your mind is about 5% as effective as writing it on paper. Write it DOWN.
- Notice How you Feel: Read over the thoughts and notice how they make you feel. At this point you may already be aware that some of these things aren’t true. But if you still believe them that’s fine. Scan your body from head to toe. Write down what you notice. (Remember lizard thoughts make you feel tight, contracted, heavy, bad)
- Pulling Back the Curtain: Imagine pulling back the curtain to reveal a funny looking man who’s all flustered and making stuff up. As you do, the illusion crumbles. These thoughts have no power over you.
- Step into Being the Leader: Take a breath into your low belly. Feel your feet on the floor. And as hard as it feels (even if you have to pretend at first) decide to make the choice to access your Soul Brain.
- Write the exact opposite of everything you just wrote in #1. For example,
“You’re never going to relieve this pain.” Becomes “You are going to relieve this pain.”
“You can’t do it.” Becomes “You can do it!”
“You’re doing it wrong.” Becomes “You’re doing it right.”
“There’s something wrong with you.” Becomes “There’s something RIGHT with you.”
“You’re bad.” Becomes “You’re good.”
Again, it is VERY important to write this out!
- Notice How You Feel: When you’re finished. Read through what you just wrote. How do these soul based thoughts make you feel? (Remember, Soul thinking makes you feel open, lighter, more relaxed – maybe even expansive and hopeful. If you’re not feeling that way – or at least a little relieved – dig deeper. Go back to step one and notice what other thoughts are there. Then go through steps 2-6 again.)
Lizard Brain to Soul Brain in 5 minutes or less!
Remember, EVERYONE has lizard thoughts! It’s up to you if you struggle with them or train yourself to recognize them for what they are…a stream of negative thinking that incessantly comes from your lizard brain, isn’t true, is disconnecting your from your body and emotions, means nothing, and will leave you feeling miserable if you listen to it. Instead, choose to connect to your soul – decide to be in charge.
I know it takes some effort to pull back that curtain and train yourself how to respond to your brain, but it’s really just a matter of DOING it.
It IS that easy, and when you start to see that it is, your suffering – and over time your pelvic pain symptoms – will significantly decrease.
If you’d like more help overcoming stressful negative thinking, and using your mind in ways that can heal your body (rather than create more stress, tension, anxiety, and pain) check out the Healing Female Pain online program!