Sunday, May 15, 2011

Brain Pain

Has anyone else ever known something, but then, when it's verified, had a reaction as if the news came out of the blue? I'm having that now. Does that mean part of me was in denial? Does wishful thinking take over until the more somber news is verified? It's weird. Denial is a powerful tool. It keeps us on a more even keel, at least until the obvious can no longer be denied, and the shit spewing back out from the fan can no longer be ignored. Everybody duck! Often our bizarre actions are about survival. We shut down, pretend all is fine or sweep the big fucking secret under the carpet, so that we can keep things more tolerable in life. The world is full of cowards, and I'm among them, hopefully at least a little more aware of where my weaknesses are these days.

Have you ever noticed that it's the people who always claim that they put everything on the table who are the very ones who generally don't? Maybe it has something to do with them wanting to be less weak and admiring those who really do put things in the open with honesty and courage. I have a theory that the more people talk themselves up, the more the opposite they are of what they say. The more someone climbs up on that high moral horse, the more shady they typically are. The more they point a finger, the more there are 4 pointing back at them, and the more they fling names the more deserving they are of those very names. Of course I know that there are people who are honest and have a good idea of who they really are, but it's more that there are so many who are the opposite of what they claim. American Beauty comes to mind.

There are times when I feel like being bad. Sometimes I just need to be a rebel and smoke a cigarette, make some noise or make a bit of a mess. Obviously it's always better to take the high road, but it can be so tempting to follow the emotional impulses that can be so strong. It leads me to want to lash out, seek revenge and say nasty things. Everyone slips, and trying to catch yourself can be hard. Ultimately, it's like eating the wrong things though, and you know you won't feel good after. Knowing that if you stuff your face with an entire bag of chips you will get a stomach ache after doesn't always stop people though. People can be all too impulsive and go for the most gratifying option, even if it may cause harm, hurt or discomfort to the self or others down the road. It's a weakness when we knowingly do the wrong thing for that bit of pleasure in the moment. I may do this when I lash out after I've been hurt. I often wish I could take a bit of a humorous look at things in the heat of the moment or take a breath and try to understand the point someone else is trying to make. My brother used to be so unaffected when my dad drank. It was pretty mind boggling, because he could laugh it off and not get so fucking hurt. I wish I were more like that.

To be fair, the human brain is not exactly perfect for making decisions and practicing good judgement at all times. Evolution has made it complicated. Deliberative reasoning takes place in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the posterior parietal cortex. These regions are often in conflict with regions in the limbic cortex, which is more often associated with emotional responses. Mine must be quite active! One can only hope that the more evolved part of the brain wins, but it can be a struggle. By the way, there's a great book called Kluge that discusses the evolution of the human mind. This aside, some people will always be more concerned with feeding their ego and basic needs than challenging themselves and nourishing their authentic selves. Maybe it's merely a matter of recognizing that their brain is more active in the ancestral areas.

I don't believe people are inherently bad or even that with all my issues I'm forever broken. It's more that people can make bad choices, especially if there's some reward in terms of feeling good for a spell, no matter what the consequences. Keep in mind that I'm not writing this with any disapproving glares from my own high horse, I recognize my own faults (and many of them) in these areas as well. I'm starting to see how shutting down has been a way for me to protect myself. It generally backfires, but for a short time, it keeps things from getting too heated. Conflict is someting that can be intimidating. What's interesting is how these parts of the brain affect eating disorders. Those with anorexia tend to be able to delay gratification in an almost inhuman way. Binge eaters are generally not like that and eat despite the consequences of both the emotional regret and the physical discomfort to follow. What's also interesting is that we know doing something will not have any good consequences, and yet we do it anyway. It's one thing to know that eating onions will give you gas and then eat them on occasion, and quite another to know that downing an entire box of Oreos will cause all kinds of great distress and do it frequently.

When I allow it, I have an unusual ability to know things. I sense them, without being able to explain why I know. In the past, I had more premonition dreams and was far more intuitive. I'm still that way on some level, only I seem to constantly discount what I know. I rationalize, defend and talk myself out of what I am sensing. Maybe it's a form of denial, but I also tend to be overly influenced by my surroundings. I need to figure out a way to quiet my mind at times.

All of a sudden I'm exhausted. I'll leave things with a video that's stuck in my brain and finish my thoughts another time.

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