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Overestimate Yourself! —Part 4: What’s Holding You Back?

Once you have developed a daily journaling practice, you’ll notice that it is easier to fill those five minutes with writing, but what do you do with it all? Our journals are a great place to discover the thoughts that are holding us back.

Step 2: Identify the Thoughts Holding You Back

Most of our daily thoughts come from our lower, or habit, brain. This is the part of our brain that houses our automatic actions like breathing. Our brains are amazingly efficient, and when the brain discovers that something has become a routine, it files that habit in the lower brain to conserve energy by putting it on autopilot.

The brain doesn’t really care if the habit is good for the body or not. For example, my husband has his own junk food cabinet where he goes for a snack every night after dinner. He doesn’t go there because he’s hungry, and he never accidentally goes to the vegetable drawer in the fridge instead. He has trained his brain to send a cue to his body that he “needs” a sweet treat every night about an hour after dinner.

Our brains store the thoughts we think often in the same way. So when I told you about screwing up that interview in college, and I thought to myself that I was just some clumsy fat girl who would never get my PhD or study in Europe, that wasn’t the first time I had the thought that I was just some clumsy fat girl. I had practiced that thought over and over again, and any time something didn’t work for me the way I wanted it to, I pulled out that thought as a way to punish myself. “I’m just some clumsy fat girl” was in my lower brain on repeat waiting to be called up, just like my husband’s craving to get a sweet snack after dinner.

When we write, we use our upper brain that controls the higher order thinking. As we are writing, our upper brain is able to recall things from our habit brain. As your thoughts move through your brain and out onto the paper, you get to see all of the things that have been running in the background. Once you start journaling on a daily basis, you’ll start to see some of those habit thoughts make their way onto your journal pages.

Once you see these thoughts, you may be amazed to realize the things you are repeating to yourself every day! However, just because thoughts are in your habit brain doesn’t mean they have to stay there. Once you realize they are there, you can start listening for them and expecting them. Identifying the harmful thoughts will become the path to eliminating them and replacing them with thoughts of overestimating yourself!

Next week, we’ll look at the third and final step to learning how to overestimate yourself. I look forward to seeing you there! Until then, much love!

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