Who's Really in Charge?

Have you ever spent time thinking about which part of you is the "boss of you"? Is it your brain? Is it your emotional body?  Upon closer inspection, we can often see that the brain believes at ALL times that IT is the master of our universe.  Yet, many of the sticky situations we find ourselves in are due to poor thinking patterns or choices!  There are many bodies within us in addition to our mental body that are highly informed and waiting to be listened to. Join in for this interesting discussion to learn more!

August 24, 2021
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Melissa Albers  0:00  
Hey everyone, you are listening to the self awareness Journey podcast. This little banter is about a car ride long and features your hosts, JJ Parker, and Melissa Albers. JJ owns a tech company. And Melissa has been a coach working with influencers for the last 18 years.

JJ Parker  0:18  
Yesterday, I was so hungry. Like, I didn't I don't know, I didn't eat most of the morning or something. I just like forgot. And I was like, super hungry right now. Did you ever get into this like mode where you're just like, you're crazy hungry? Yes. Yeah. And then like, the only thing on your mind is like, I must go eat all the things. Right?

Melissa Albers  0:41  
Yes. I was waiting for you to say I must eat all your Peppermint Patties with a mile radius.

JJ Parker  0:48  
Exactly. I was just trying to find all the candy I could find. So I was thinking, I was thinking I got myself into this mode where I wasn't. I wasn't really thinking about anything. But eating. Yeah, right. Everything on like, everything went away, like yeah, all my responsibilities. All the things I was supposed to do. Even like personal safety while trying to cross the street to my office, it's like ran across in the middle of traffic. And I was like, okay, like, what's going on here? Like, why does my brain turn off when I get super hungry? And I thought, like, Is my stomach actually in charge of my brain? Right. So I went down this whole path. Just follow along for just a minute because, hey, okay, I'm, I was like, Okay, maybe primitive organisms, which I am one. Oh,

Melissa Albers  1:50  
wait, how long is this path gonna be?

JJ Parker  1:52  
It's gonna be okay. Like, the whole goal was to just like, somehow, like, eat? Yeah. Right. and reproduce? Yes. So, like, but unless you're eating, you can't do the second thing. So like, the primary function is to just like eat, right? So just like a tube, right? Like suited one. And yeah,

Melissa Albers  2:15  
minimizing this just a little bit?

JJ Parker  2:18  
Well, if that was the case, then how am I any different? Right? Like, my whole world is just like, about trying to eat, you know, just like food in food out, Mike. Right? Maybe I'm just maybe maybe all we are is driven by eating?

Melissa Albers  2:37  
Maybe not. Now.

JJ Parker  2:40  
I think it's deeper than that, I

Melissa Albers  2:41  
think maybe a little deeper. Well, it got

JJ Parker  2:44  
me thinking about like, like, what's actually in control of us right now, like this idea that my stomach goes on control of me, because that's like a funny way to view the world, right. But the idea that, like our brains in control of us, like, there's our heart is our gut is our beat, like, what is it like? Yeah, this idea of even this idea of like, AI, right? It kind of gets into a whole deep philosophy, philosophical thing. Maybe I was too hungry. And I was just thinking like a crazy person. I'm not sure. Well, that

Melissa Albers  3:19  
part is probably true. Also. No, I think this is a good conversation, actually. Because in 90% of my coaching conversations that I have, every single week, we have the discussion about how much your brain thinks it's the one in charge.

JJ Parker  3:37  
Ah. Oh, and do you have an answer?

Melissa Albers  3:42  
Well, not a definitive answer. I have an opinion. That seems a little

JJ Parker  3:48  
scientific. Yeah. Research has Yeah,

Melissa Albers  3:51  
yeah. No, I do think though, that it's really interesting as we go about our lives, and we're in our partnerships, and we have our families and we have our goals. And we have what makes us feel good and what doesn't make us feel good. Oh, boy, our brain sure thinks it's in control of everything. You know, like, well, in the self awareness journey, if when we talk about getting triggered by something, right, you're just wandering around your day hungry with a bunch of Peppermint Patty wrappers piled up next year. Laptop, that's not real life at all. Yeah, right. You're going about your day, and then something upsets you and you get a really strong feeling and your body doesn't feel good either. Well, all of a sudden, your brain goes, Okay, wait, everybody stop. I got this. I got it. I'll take control. I'm in charge here. The reason we're doing this doesn't really matter. Here's what we're going to do to fix it because it's my job to keep us on our program. So I think that the brain tries to take over. Way, way, way too much.

JJ Parker  5:04  
And it feels like we let it. Yeah, right. Yeah. Like we got all the time like, we somehow decide that, that we would submit to, like our logical thinking, right? There's this idea that, that we can like think our way out of things. Yeah. Yeah, that like, following your gut or your instinct or your feelings isn't our primary way of going about things, or at least not a more intelligent way of going about things and that you should like defer to your like, sort of thinking brain. But in my observation, when you get too much into your thinking brain starts making up crazy stories about everything that aren't even true.

Melissa Albers  5:51  
Yeah, yeah, that's true. And I think that the other consideration in this discussion early on is the situations that you find yourself needing to get out of are actually placed there by the very same thing that you're suggesting can get you out of it. Your brain got you there.

JJ Parker  6:10  
It's like the irony of life or so. That's funny.

Melissa Albers  6:18  
Yeah, it's an interesting conversation, though, you know, like we're being kind of kitschy and funny about it. But it is amazing how much we are convinced that our brain is the best informer of everything. And I straight up don't believe that I think the brain is a and I'm very fond of saying more recently than not, the brain is a wonderful tool and a terrible master. I really, I like that phrase so much, because we have so many more systems within us, that inform us all the time. And, and the brain is only one of them. And we're just so used to being able to trust that because you can quantify and analyze and make it look like it's you're doing something?

JJ Parker  7:03  
Yeah. Yeah. Like the brain. Like our brain likes to think of itself. In a really high regard.

Melissa Albers  7:13  
Yeah, right. Yeah. Yep. I'll tell you, I've never seen more people on, I don't want to say that aren't balanced, because that sounds like a judgment. But I'm going to say this smarter, smartest, most analytical people that I've worked with, can become the most unhappy and off center. Because they have honed that brain skill to such a fine point. In other words, they've spent so much time developing the brain part of who they really are, and ignore their inner being that that soul part or the heart and center part. And truthfully, that's what really actually guides us is that inside piece that's what's actually guiding us.

JJ Parker  8:03  
So not to not to elaborate too much on my like, hungry story. Yeah, but I heard someone a few months ago, refer to our gut brain. Yeah, ever heard that phrase? And like this idea, she was trying to explain this idea. Like, like, there's, like, so much happening, like literally in your digestive tract. And it and there's so many a huge part of your whole nervous system is there. Yeah. And way more is happening there. And even decision making and and how you're functioning kind of is happening from this other part of your body. That's not Yes, like in your skull.

Melissa Albers  8:51  
Yes. 100%. That's very Eastern medicine, actually. So oh, I'm going to tell you a story that never ever. I don't think I've told people this story, like maybe only once or twice, ever. Oh, I'm really that's just you and me. Anyway, so it's fine. Actually, that's a lie. So I am really interested in Eastern medicine and Eastern philosophy. And, and so there was, I am a while I got certified, quote, air quotes in transcendental meditation. This is a long time ago. And there's a Center in Minneapolis in which they do this. And then they host all sorts of really cool events and people that come in and travel that are all focused more on that Eastern medicine. And there was a particular Indian woman, and I loved her so much. She was traveling. She's come a couple of times into Minneapolis, and she has she's from a long history of doctors. Her dad was a doctor. Her grandfather was a doctor And then she went into medicine also, and then came to the United States. And they have this interesting thing that they do, where you know how you like put your fingers on your wrist to count your pulse. Okay? She, this is gonna sound for those who do not really catch on to the eastern stuff yet, yet. She would place her fingers on the pulse point on your wrist. And then she would push down in a series of patterns and keep her fingers there. And she would literally diagnose everything in your system that was going off interest and Okay, so. And just for the listeners, JJ is just looked out like my while we were having so much fun here. Okay, but here's what happened. This is why I tell the story. She said your blood pressure is slightly high. And it looks like you're having some issues with your digestive system. And it and then she also said something about my thyroid. I can't remember, I can't remember exactly what it was because this was couple years ago. All right. Fast forward about one month's time, I had my annual physical with my actual doctor in Minneapolis. And she almost verbatim said the exact same things. Wow. So there are many body systems of ours that we are even completely unaware of. And that brain gut is or that gut brain and call that the second brain. And it informs us informs us of all sorts of things exactly. As you said.

JJ Parker  11:33  
So like, even in our language, like right, people say like, oh, I had a gut feeling. Yeah, right. But what people are just saying is like, the thought arose from somewhere else in my body, not my logical brain center, right? Yeah,

Melissa Albers  11:47  
exactly. Right, exactly. Right. I think we're at our very best, when we recognize all when we recognize our I'm going to call that gut feeling, I'm going to call it our intuition. I also call it our inner being, that's what I call it, because our inner being is our guiding pole, our guiding system, right? And then the brain is what informs us of all of the things to keep us safe. And keep us in our quote habits, the brain only looks from our past to make decisions about its present reality. Right? It is it is a mechanism, it is a it is a tool, whereas your inner being or that inner guidance is actually informing you of what it is you really want. What it is that you really want to be.

JJ Parker  12:33  
So this idea that we're talking about is like, I just want to get my brain around it. Yeah, little bit like this. It's like an idea that I don't want to be too simplistic about it again, but it's like, there, there's two, like, here's, like, there's two systems, or there's two things that are really talking very well with each other or working, you know, they kind of work together, but not in the most harmonious way all the time. Well,

Melissa Albers  13:07  
and I would even just say instead of that, which would imply like there's a struggle, I would almost suggest that it is being unaware. It's not having the awareness of what that process is even doing or when you're even in it. Because we recognize the feeling of our brain taking over. We recognize that feeling. And from the time we were little use your head, you know, like we hear all these kinds of phrases. To validate that we should be focusing on that part.

JJ Parker  13:40  
Like my like, very common parenting phrases. What are you thinking?

teenage boys, or teenage boys? That's pretty much that all the time.

Melissa Albers  13:54  
phrases such as Have you lost your mind? Right, there's a ton of them. There's a ton of them, but seldom do we say, Have you lost your inner being? What is your gut telling you?

JJ Parker  14:12  
We don't know. We're gonna switch. I'm gonna switch my tactic. Sorry, using those phrases instead.

Melissa Albers  14:19  
But it isn't. It is saying yeah,

JJ Parker  14:21  
like, what did we do? Like? We took kids like if you think about like, really little kids infants, right. They're probably they're not really operating with a developed logical brain. They're just running on instinct, right? Yeah. And then as we mature, we start that's almost like you said, we almost are programming into everybody this idea that they need to be driven by logic more than gut. Yes. Yep. And, and even a lot of like, Ed The way we go about education and things like that is all about using that brain power. Yeah. And so by the time we're adults, we've nearly forgotten that there's more to it than just pure brain power, right?

Melissa Albers  15:17  
Or when our inner being or our gut and our inside our chest when we start to feel anxious or worried about something, this feeling comes over us that makes us feel vulnerable, or makes us feel unsure of the path. That is simply our inner being having a guidance conversation with us, right? Like, are we need to be different. we've outgrown this, we've, we're no longer being served by how we did this. And it's time for us to move to something different. And as soon as we reach that piece, it's like our whole system, often will just go Oh, no, no, no, no, no, we're not going to go. We're not doing that. What should what let's think about this. And then the brain cuts off all opportunity for that, hey, spit that expansion, by trying to put us back into the lanes that we have convinced ourselves through mechanical thinking, that will keep us safe.

JJ Parker  16:14  
Yeah, or but it but the irony there is sometimes a lot of times that's not safe. No, it's

Melissa Albers  16:21  
precisely right. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, in the I remember it was there was a book out. What was it called in the eight it was it was like groupthink or something like that. It was like, if we all think the same way, we will all have good conclusions. Well, even today, that it we all know that that's not necessarily true anymore. However, even today, unaware, it happens all the time. You know, it's like, oh, you're supposed to go over here. This line says you're supposed to stand here. Why? Well, I don't know. It just says that. That's what the that's what the sign says you have to just do it. You have to follow the rules. You have to follow along. And, and and your inner being could say that's not right. That isn't right. That doesn't feel right.

JJ Parker  17:11  
Yeah. Well, there's like stories about that all the time where, like, people get gut feelings, and then don't follow them. And yeah, it's like a bad result.

Melissa Albers  17:23  
Yeah. Or how about those that have gut feelings do follow them. And they stay off the plane that crashed? Yeah, they go a different direction on the road. And they stayed out of it having an accident.

JJ Parker  17:33  
I was crazy. Things like that. Right. So it's sounds like our brains are, like change resistant. Right. Yeah. They like to stay in the habits. Like, there's some qualities of it that that aren't great.

Melissa Albers  17:48  
Yeah, right. Yeah. Yeah.

JJ Parker  17:52  
So let me ask you this, like, how do we, how do we get more in touch with, like, with our, with our gut feelings? And, and get it to a point where we're less driven by our brains? Like, how do we, I mean, obviously, the self awareness journey is kind of all about this, right? But, and we go through all of those tactics, but like, let's just run through some of them. Like how do you start to redeveloping the skill to be more in touch with? Yeah. Your inner being?

Melissa Albers  18:34  
I think this is such a good conversation. It's such a good question yet for me, too. It's like, first of all, we don't have to be in Crisis or have something be broken. Before we do that. It can be a really gentle exploration, like an interesting, like an interesting hobby. Like you could enter into a one one as well, just that no, the whole I mean, the whole exploration. Alright,

JJ Parker  19:00  
let me just much better.

Melissa Albers  19:02  
No, but I think it's like, for example, one of the things that we can do is spend less time doing when we feel stressed. Okay, so anytime there's an anxiety or a stress, the first thing that we want to do is make it go away. Get it out, get it out, get it out. How do we usually do that? By going and doing something else? Right, we replace, we replace frenetic energy with a different kind of frenetic energy and we make ourselves feel like it's okay, because our brain convinces us well, this activity feels kind of normal. It must be okay. Yep, this level of activity, this level of disassociation from feeling. This feels pretty good. So like one of the tactics I honestly think, is to spend more time being Yeah, like do nothing. Do nothing. Yeah. There's nothing

JJ Parker  19:56  
we should do a whole podcast on doing anything like put that on the list. Okay, I think it's super important for a couple of different reasons, though. The one we just talked about now. Yeah, but also for creativity, being bored as a key part of creativity. For me,

Melissa Albers  20:14  
my coach calls that being in the void. And I love that when there's nothing happening for a long period of time, and our brain wants to well, there should be something Why isn't there anything? How come I can't get to? Oftentimes, at the end of that period of nothingness comes huge. expansiveness.

JJ Parker  20:33  
Yeah, yeah, like using this phrase that we're entertaining ourselves to death. Yeah, drives me crazy is watching people like stand in line at the grocery store for the checkout. And like glued to their phones. I'm like, Really, you can't sit here for like, literally 40 seconds and do nothing.

Melissa Albers  20:49  
Oh, no. But you know what, though? The root of that is because we have made ourselves wrong for simply being human beings. I mean, we're called human beings, not human doings.

JJ Parker  21:02  
That's a great phrase. That's a great quote.

Melissa Albers  21:05  
No, we're not human doings. We're human beings. And I think we have made ourselves wrong about that. And what I mean by that is, whenever we are quiet, or where there isn't something that is happening, that's productive, then we instantly say, Oh, I must be doing something wrong. And the brain goes right into How dare you? Right? Yeah,

JJ Parker  21:27  
there's this is probably why the, like, smartphones and all that stuff just took such quick grasp of everybody's attention, right? Because the brain loves it. Yeah, the brain feels like it's doing something all the time. And, like, if the brains value, yes to us, is it's like, a bit of its thinking. It just wants to do more of that like, right. Yeah. It's like trying to prove its worth or something.

Melissa Albers  21:58  
Yeah, no, that's, that's so true. But

JJ Parker  22:02  
and so then we get into these things where it's like, we're super addicted to like just making our brain spin all the time.

Melissa Albers  22:08  
Yeah. Well, I have, I'm going to drop what I think is kind of a big idea. And that is, your inner being knows where you want to go, and where you're going. And when we feel stress or anxiety on the outside and our brain takes over. It is usually because the vision or idea that is what you see as being what's really right for you, is not being manifested outside of you, there's a disconnect between what your inner being knows is best for you, versus what your brain thinks is best for you or what you're experiencing on the outside. And I think that's truly at the root of it is the disconnection between knowing what you really want versus what's happening around you doesn't match that. So then the brain simply goes to the overwork and analysis, it pulls all the file folders from every past experience. And it quickly tries to judge what's happening and put it in something that feels quote more normal. In other words, only experienced already not normal, but only experienced already.

JJ Parker  23:18  
Back to another habit like an old.

Melissa Albers  23:20  
Yeah, but yeah, yeah. So

JJ Parker  23:23  
that is so hard, though. Like what you just explained is so hard.

Melissa Albers  23:27  
It is, but it's not at all.

JJ Parker  23:29  
I think it's okay. It's not complicated, but it is hard.

Melissa Albers  23:34  

JJ Parker  23:35  
Right. What you're I mean, what you described is simple, right? Yeah. Yeah. But to do it is hard. Because it's so hard to get our brains to stop it. Right?

Melissa Albers  23:45  
How about this? That is what you just said, makes it seem impossible and makes it seem hard. But what if we shifted that one little bit? What if we said instead of it's hard? What if we ask the brain to engage with us in a little bit of a different way? So we still give it a job like a toddler? What if we said, brain every time you catch the brain like forcing you into a thinking pattern, and you can tell you're starting to get wound up, you can tell you're running laps in your brain or whatever. What if you simply said, brain, I recognize that you're doing all of this work right now. Thank you for trying to serve me. Right now. I'd like to let this idea percolate a little bit. And if you want to do something, help me be more creative and how I can percolate this idea more. So what if we tried to enter into a different relationship with our heads and we've ever had before we can still keep it active? We don't need to judge what it's done. It's trying to keep us safe. So it's really nice. That's, you know, it's all good. But what if we just shifted a little bit to a little different way of being and thinking give it a different job?

JJ Parker  24:55  
I think you're blowing my mind right now. Good. Yes, that's Like, I really like that perspective. That's not like the, you know, I never actually sat down with anybody and talked about this idea that you could give your brain a different

Melissa Albers  25:18  
job. We've never talked about this before. I know super interesting,

JJ Parker  25:23  
weird. That's a great way to look at it. It's like a really great way to look at it. Because there's no resistance. And it puts that space between us, as we always talked about, like getting getting some spaces between things. Yes, right. Yes. Yeah, allowing for space. Mm hmm. Well, that last like time or whatever, but the idea that you are putting in some space, yeah, around like, or some. Yeah, no. But something around what your brains job is. Because yeah, it's really interesting,

Melissa Albers  25:55  
because the brain wants to judge. And there's no space in judgment. If we ask the brain to switch it up, and still work, but do so observationally, instead of judged mentally, it creates a little space.

JJ Parker  26:12  
Yeah. And understanding that that judging piece of your brain has a lot of ways served. People really well. Yeah. Because there were points. I mean, I always like to break it down to really instinctual things, when we have to live in the woods. But yeah, judging a situation where the lion might eat me, was really important. Right? Yeah. So the judging has helped us progress. And even today, judging can help us. Yeah, but one is on overload. And it's an it's unconstrained and it's constant. It does not serve us. Yeah.

Melissa Albers  26:54  
And I don't think using the word judging works in anything as it has to do with our inner being and our own true growth and development, I think, yes, judging analytical things situations outside of us. I'm okay with that. But I just am getting to the stage of my life where I, I almost rail against the word judgment. And I think probably because it's been such a war with me too. You know, I think that's like, that's our human condition is we're constantly in judgment or trying to not judge. And so I that's why I like this idea of, let's not try to be something that we're not maybe if we can just shift five degrees, you know, I'm always a fan of that. Like, what if we just shifted the brain's expectation five degrees and said, You really like to work for us? And that's really cool. But how about now we just let our inner being sort of guide where we're heading? And can you help by just observing some things and maybe you can come up with more creative ways that the inner being can be successful? Like, I think that's a more approachable way of thinking about it, or being not yakking.

JJ Parker  28:08  
So I have to have my original thesis stand a little bit where like, maybe I was not phrasing it, right. But maybe we can just to say, like my gut brain was making was controlling me yesterday. So maybe we are not just simply stomachs trying to.

Melissa Albers  28:30  
Like, I feel like that's kind of just like an earthworm.

JJ Parker  28:33  
I think that's what I was trying to describe. It was a super fun conversation. I, I hope we can all think about the role of our logical thinking brain and maybe put a little bit different context on Yeah, what his job is and how it helps us and

Melissa Albers  28:55  
loosen the reins a little bit on what we want to have as expectations all the time and allow for that space to change things and to have us evolve, you know, be able to evolve more.

JJ Parker  29:09  

Melissa Albers  29:11  
We hope that you've enjoyed today's episode. Our mission is to help people become happier and more effective by gaining insight into their own thoughts and feelings. We'd love your support. First, share this podcast with anyone you think might enjoy it. Second, leave us a rating or review on your favorite podcast site. This helps others discover the podcast so we can reach more people. And third, sign up for our newsletter at the self awareness journey.com. This will help us communicate better with you and build our community. Thank you so much for joining us in the self awareness journey. We'll see you next week.

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Discussed in this episode

Let's get real

Meet your guides

JJ Parker

JJ Parker is a serial entrepreneur passionate about building creative strategy, efficient operations, and unique marketing perspectives. Parker got his start as a student at The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and soon after launched his first company Tightrope Media Systems (TRMS) with a high school buddy in 1997.

Melissa Albers

Melissa is passionate about developing people’s self-awareness and ability to positively interact with others. She focuses on the importance of building influence, and highlights the most important relationship we have is with self first. Ms. Albers speaks on leadership and self-awareness, and has shared the stage with John Maxwell (Leadership Author and Speaker), Lee Cockerell (Exec VP of Disney) and Les Brown (Motivational Speaker) to name a few.

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