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A conversation with Bloody Good Bloke

Making Decisions & Finding Passion

Over breakfast in Bali this morning, (dragonfruit, mango and raw vegan chocolate coated cashew nuts with spirulina—banana smoothie, of course), Bloody Good Bloke and I had a chat.

The kind of chat I’ve always longed to have with a partner, where we talk about brain mechanisms and personal growth and how trauma affects people.

He encourages me to think with more nuance (less black and white, my fav!), and I encourage him to be less wrong. 😉

We have many such chats, in between chats about what we should have for dinner

(which mostly involve me campaigning against broccoli).

I’m so grateful to be in a relationship where we both value growth and have an insatiable curiosity about human nature. Where we actively work to grow together and to help each other unpeel our triggers and stuck points so we can be more and more “ourselves.”

This morning was one of those mind-expanding conversations, and I wanted to share some of it with you in case it resonates.

Bloody Good Bloke is currently reading Jill Bolte Taylor’s book, My Stroke of Insight. Those of you who will have taken my much loved Bloody Good Life program will recognise Jill.

Jill Bolte Taylor is a brain scientist who was able to witness herself as she had a severe stroke (and luckily, recovered — over a period of years — to tell the tale).

She tells the fascinating story of her experience in her book and in her TED talk — highly recommend).

In both, Jill explains that as she began to have a stroke, it deactivated the left side of her brain (language centre) for periods of time, and she was able to experience what it was like to exist in a right hemisphere dominant mode.

Then her left hemisphere would come back online and she’d realise she was having a stroke, and start to take action to get help. Then it would go offline again and she’d go back to enjoying the experience of observing herself in the present moment without the voice of reason stressing out.

BGB was particularly interested that at times during her stroke, Jill describes becoming aware of the unconscious processes that were happening in her body while she was walking — processes that would usually occur completely outside of her conscious awareness.

She experienced it as an internal dialogue happening in her body “You muscles — contract! You muscles there, relax!”

She describes it as though there was a whole army of beings inside her orchestrating her every move.

As BGB and I discussed how crazy it is that so much goes on in our body that we’re completely unconscious of, I realised (not for the first time) —

“Wow, we really are just passengers living inside a really fucking clever, well oiled machine!”

“Welllll…” I added, “Maybe my machine is not so well oiled as yours!”. (I’ve been unwell for a lot of our holiday, more on that another day).

Relevant tangent to follow:

When I fractured my foot last year, an osteopath warned me that even after it had fully healed, I would need to ease back into running slowly, because the interoceptive connections between my foot and my brain would need to recalibrate.

When we walk or run, she explained, our eyes are peripherally taking stock of the terrain around us constantly, without us realising it’s happening. Our brain uses this information to calculate the various angles our foot needs to rotate in any given moment for it to meet the ground at the right angle as we take each step.

All of this calculation and reorienting happens without our conscious awareness. This blew my tiny mind. 🤯

When we get injured, those connections are interrupted by inflammation and scar tissue, so our brain and foot need to recalibrate and sync back up. She suggested I practice standing one footed on a folded-up towel to start to sync up my brain and foot again after being in a moon boot for 6 weeks.

I only realised how important this was after ignoring her advice completely.

There was no standing on towels. Instead, I went for a run just moments after selling my crutches, and tripped over 50m from my house. Sprained my other ankle. Had to buy more crutches.

(More opportunities to laugh at one of my many clumsy spells over here: My run in with a sewing machine, an eight lane highway and a trip in an ambulance.)

Neville, my mind, arrogantly thought “I know how to run, no wackas mate she’ll be rigggght”.

Neville tends to talk in a bogan Aussie accent from time to time.

My osteopath knew better.

Like a mug, Neville and I had assumed that because I’ve previously found the act of going for a wee jog fairly easy, that I would continue to be able to run on autopilot after my injury.

But alas, there were hundreds (Thousands? Billions?!) of processes and adjustments that my brain and body were carrying out on my behalf every time I ran that had made it “easy” for me to run.

I had underestimated (and ignored) my ever present internal team of micro engineers. I put them to work without any time to ease back into the job nor get their head in the game.

It’s actually pretty funny, if you think about it.

Our conscious awareness (our “attention”) is just a tiny fragment of a really complex system that “we” are living inside of.

Trillions of processes are happening to keep us alive in every moment, without any input from “us” whatsoever.

Yet somehow, humans have come to the extremely bizarre notion that “we” (our mind) are the most intelligent thing in our body.

Ohh, another relevant tangent:

Did you know that the reality you’re seeing in front of you is 80 milliseconds delayed? 🤯

The info coming from, say, your toes takes longer to get to your brain than the info coming from your shoulders. So in order to present a coherent picture to you, your brain collates all the information it has received in any given moment, filters it based on your past experiences and expectations (priors), and then presents to you a constructed version of what “reality” looked like to your brain…. 80ms ago.

I once heard the neuroscientist David Eagelman say that if you got shot in the back of the head, you wouldn’t know you’d been shot. You’d never hear the gunshot, because by the time the brain notified you of the gunshot sound, 80ms delayed… you’d already be dead.

What the what?

So what you’re seeing/hearing/touching/tasting/smelling right in front of you right now, is not actually in front of you anymore!

Your brain knows this. But you don’t.

Yet we think that WE are the masters of this highly intelligent ship!

In reality, it’s more like we’re a passenger in an extremely complex self-flying aeroplane that we were never taught to fly. And like an arrogant tosser, we keep backseat-driving, frequently leaning over and grabbing the wheel (joystick?!*).

*Had to consult my pilot brother about this. It’s also called a control column! Or a yoke!

Like all animals, we have a very finely tuned gut instinct that helps us navigate the world effectively. Yet because we’re a civilisation that prioritises our intellect, many of us have somehow come to the rather ignorant conclusion that we should be able to “figure out” what we want to do with our life… using our mind.

But the body already knows.

This is why I’m so passionate about helping people to tame their minds. So we can stop living through the unhelpful, misguided filter of the mind, and instead tune back into our internal compass.

I reckon our gut instinct already knows where we need to go and what we need to do next to find fulfilment. It’s been trying to nudge us in the right direction all along.

It may not know all the steps in advance, but it does know whether what you’re doing right now is a “yes” or a “no” — and it has an inkling for what you could try instead. Often, if you’re stuck, it’s because you’re scared to follow the inkling. (Or your mind has buried the inkling deep – which is where I can help.)

If you’re feeling stuck, or unsure of your next steps, start by letting go of the idea that you can figure it out with your mind.

Consider learning to tame your mind (I have just the program for you!).

And whether you’re stuck or not…

Can we give a little more credit to the incredible team of internal micro-engineers currently processing this information you’re reading, while also operating every organ and cell in your body to keep your heart regulated and your breathing steady?

As Bloody Good Bloke and I concluded —

Imagine if we spent more time respecting and honouring this incredible ‘animal*’ that we have the privilege of living inside of.

* /Well oiled machine.

Even the wobbly bits. (Looking at you, tummy, thanks for all your hard work! Apologies for the abuse!)

Even the freckly, scarred, red, damaged bits that are still doing their best to keep you healthy and thriving.

Your body deserves a medal (and your attention), not your Neville.

If you’ve been thinking of doing the much loved Bloody Good Life program, this is your last chance. BGL will be closing its doors from July this year.

Learn to tame your overthinking mind and get clear on your direction (plus a handful of other benefits you won't expect).

→ Put your name on the Bloody Good Life waitlist here.

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