How Our Brains Gaslight Us
Have you noticed that something you’ve been working to accomplish — once you finally get it done — might not feel like it was a big deal? Or worse, your brain will give you evidence that it was actually bad? Here’s a prime example from my own self-critical noggin: Getting my REAL ID.
Taking care of getting my REAL ID has, truthfully, been on my list for several years. The pandemic brought a reprieve, but when my driver’s license expired, I decided that it would be logical and practical to finally get around to REAL ID-ing.
First challenge: My camera card for my driver’s license never arrived, so I had to request a new one. Add two weeks.
Next, I had to figure out wtf they want in terms of documentation for REAL ID. My passport is current — check. Original social security card? Hadn’t seen that since 1978, so time to figure out what paperwork that would take, fill out the required forms and go wait in line at the social security office then wait for the new one to come in the mail. Add six weeks.
Procrastinate/not have time to think about it. Add two weeks.
Now in the home stretch, I found bills in my name that prove I live where I say. Then, finally, off I went to a REAL ID drivers license center. Then I moved through two lines at that office, paid them ~$70, finally to be in front of the camera for my new REAL ID driver’s license.
Victory! Hooray! Right?
Wrong. I took one look at the picture when it was all said and done and thought “I look really tired. And I should have gotten a haircut first. I’m going to have to look at this pic until 2030.”
Thanks, brain, you big jerk.
Instead of patting me on the back for being perseverant and resourceful, and that I took care of a thing that had been on my mind for quite awhile and that I wouldn’t need to worry about it again for 7.5 years, the judge who occupies space in my head without paying rent decided to criticize my appearance instead.
Which is just what all human brains do, if we don’t catch them out on it. It’s only by spotting those unhelpful thoughts that we can challenge them. I’m totally onto my judge, but sometimes it takes me a little while. Looking at the photo now, a week after it was taken, I see that it’s fine. And it’s a driver’s license photo, not a Glamour Shot portrait. Calm down, brain.
This is the sort of work I not only do with my coaching clients, but I teach them how to do it for themselves also. Interested in learning more? Sign up for a free one hour coaching session today and I will share ways to not only get more stuff done, but also how to enjoy the victories more.
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