How I Fixed My Lazy Brain To Battle Stress

Often when we are in stressful times, our minds want to shut off and be distracted instead of drilling down to the source of the stress.

I’m amazed at how much our minds will take shortcuts when given the chance. While it’s a fantastic adaptation machine, unless it’s challenged, our lazy brain will always take the path most travelled.

I reminded myself just how much my need for validation is the central pivot for my mind’s thoughts. When I am not feeling adequate in any way, my brain tricks my thoughts into seeking praise. It’s a habit that I have and one that has become very difficult to break.

Bullies come from anywhere.

Recently, my family has been under the influence of a bully. While I will spare you the details, this bully has affected pretty much every member of our house in different ways. To my wife and son, they are directly under the influence of this person. However, I am not. But that doesn’t mean that I am not affected.

Now, let’s be clear, this bully is not threatening in any way. This bully is merely playing heart string pulling mind games that put my wife into complicated social situations. As for my son, he is just the recipient of two stressed parents.

My hands were tied.

As I watch my family deal with the stress of the influence of this bully, I am left feeling as though I need to protect them. Since it is merely a game of words, I need not physically jump into the equation. And since it doesn’t directly influence me and I have full confidence that my wife is more than capable of dealing with this person, I am left to sit on the sidelines. It pains me to watch her have to deal with this, yet, I am unable to help -aside from offering my best advice and support.

Because I am not directly involved, and it is not my business to get directly involved, it leaves me with a feeling of inadequacy. I want to fix the problem. This struggle leads my shortcut taking lazy-brain to seek a solution in other areas of my life. My brain says to itself “because I can’t solve the problem at home, let’s make sure I am solving problems everywhere else!” Thus, my narrative becomes one of fullness to one of scarcity.

When given the opportunity, and without any real thought, I change my words and tone in conversation to emphasize the things that I am accomplishing. The things that I am doing daily that are working -or so I think. In essence, because I can’t stand up to that bully at home, like a rooster, I try and puff up my feathers make myself more significant and more intimidating everywhere else.

It’s an ego thing.

It has taken me a few weeks and a few late nights to come to bridge this gap in my life. As the stress piles up at home, I’ll take it out undeservedly everywhere else. Instead of empathizing with others, I seek sympathy. I’m taking more than I’m giving all to fill the hole of inadequacy that I have in my heart.

Knowing when your brain is lazy is half the battle.

Realizing why we do the things we do and being a keen observer to our thoughts and actions, gives us the unbelievable power to change. The better we get at these observations, the quicker we will head off problematic habits before they become character building. The only way to become good at this is to remove the distractions that we crave. Remember, our brains are lazy, they are like unsatiable magnets to amusement. If you are feeling any distress, your mind will fixate on the distraction so that it doesn’t have to work. It’s why social media has become so sticky. Lazy brain is the reason binge-watching Netflix has become so prevalent. It’s why food has become a hobby. All of these things keep our brain occupied so that it doesn’t have to work.

If you want to see this in yourself, observe the next time you are flipping over to Facebook. Ask yourself “why am I doing this?” five times, but don’t answer the same thing twice. You’ll uncover the real reason why you are mindlessly becoming distracted. On top of it all, you’ll deeply understand what work your lazy brain is trying to avoid. At that point, you can make the conscious effort to either do something about it or allow it to be lazy. If you choose the latter, then the outcome of a lazy brain -however dire- is indeed your fault. You’ve given up control.