How Does Your Brain Work?

This week we are opening up our minds to take a look at how our brains work. Don't worry, there's no science talk on this episode, only time to reflect while getting to know yourself even more.

Episode Transcript

Welcome to Inner Warmup where your inner work begins. My name is Taylor Elyse Morrison, founder of Inner Workout and you as always are our expert guest. Before we start the interview, I always love to do something to bring us into this moment. And what I did before pressing record was place one of my hands on top of my head. And then take a few deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your nose or mouth, whatever you prefer. When you're ready, you can place your hand back in your lap. I learned the placing your hand on your head from one of my teachers, Michelle Pelazon. And there was something really comforting and grounding about it. I'm often on one hand on the heart, one hand on the belly type of person and that's just something new I've added to my repertoire. Also, in light of the conversation that we're going to have today, I thought doing something that involves our heads could be a good fit. So the question on the table today is how does your brain work?

And before you leave the episode, and you're like, okay, this is not for me or if you're thinking that this is going to be something that it's not, let me clarify right away. We're not diving into neuroscience right now, even though, looking at how our brains work is so interesting. And the more I learn about how, what's going on underneath the surface, so to speak, in my brain, the more fascinated I am by it. So all of that is really interesting and also, it's not what we're talking about today. When I'm talking about how your brain works, I'm really talking about you getting to know yourself more. As I'm recording this, it's on the heels of my four year wedding anniversary and I've been with Matt, my partner, for 10 years. So together for 10 years, married for four years, and being in a relationship with someone who doesn't have the same family background as me, thankfully. I mean, that's typically how it is but what I mean is being in a close relationship with someone like that. Yes, I had really good friends. Yes, I had my family. But being in that level of an intimate relationship with someone who was raised differently than me, and whose brain honestly worked differently than me, was pretty eye opening.

On the surface, yes, I know that people think differently, people act differently, people process things differently. But it wasn't until I started to really do life with someone for an extended amount of time that I saw the extent of those differences. So when I'm asking you to reflect on how your brain works, I want you to think about things like how you process, you might be familiar with the idea of internal processing, or external processing. So if you're an external processor, you might be someone who really likes to verbalize things, you like to talk things out. An internal processor is really turning inwards to mull things over. I would say I'm personally kind of an interesting mix of both. I really value journaling, it's a tool that's been helpful for me, but I process it or rather, I approach it almost as a conversation where I'm often writing questions or narratively saying what's on my mind. And then from there, I'm able to pull some insights out. I also love calling either Matt or one of my close friends or someone in my family to talk through things. And that's not true for everyone. Not everyone likes to verbalize what they're going through. So this is not to say that one way is better than the other. I just have noticed that it's really helpful for me to start to name the pieces about how my brain works, so to speak, so that I can know what supports me well, and also from a community care perspective, acknowledge places where I might be forcing what works for me on other people.

So we've got things like internal and external processing, there's also learning styles. Over the summer, man, this was back when I was in college, I spent some time working at this place called Lindamood Bell. It's a learning center where you're working with kids to improve their reading their math, their critical thinking skills, there's all sorts of different programs that we did together. And that solidified for me again, the difference in learning styles. I had kiddos who would do really well if they could just read something over. Others wanted to hear us say it out loud, others really wouldn't fully understand it until they started doing it themselves.

I tend to be more of a do it to learn it type of person. I enjoy reading and I enjoy listening to podcasts but something doesn't feel real tangible for me until I try it. Which is interesting because I've also noticed that I've been pretty trepidatious (that's a $13 word) in trying things because of my conditioning, because of how my brain works. I'm also really afraid of failure and so I know that I learned things by doing. And also I know that I'm sometimes terrified to do things because I don't want to mess up and be seen as a failure. Those things are very helpful for me to know. So a learning style, that might be something for you to think about. Like when you really feel like you know something, to the point that you could teach it to someone else. What has to have happened for you? Can you just read something several times, and you've got it? Do you have to listen to it? What are those things that work for you? That's part of how your brain works.

You might also think about in tougher situations, when you're faced with something unexpected or overwhelming, how do you respond? We're all pretty familiar with the fight or flight or freeze response, what tends to be your response? And if you're like, okay, I could see times when I did all of that, what are some of those nuances? You've got a surface level understanding of how your brain works and maybe now is where you start to think of the nuances of okay, I freeze, when I feel like there's a power imbalance, I fight when it's something that's really close to my heart, or it's a situation where I feel really comfortable. Notice those things for yourself. You might also think about, like when you have the most brain power, I am very much a morning person. I feel like my brain is at its peak capacity in the morning. It's funny, my husband is the opposite of me and I grew up in a family of morning people.

So I just thought it was normal that everyone works well in the morning. And sometimes he'll wake up and I'll have to pause myself because I have a million ideas I probably thought and decided not to do five things before he's woken up on the weekend. And I'm like, okay, maybe we should redo this arch in our dining room and then I might research it and decide not to. And I have to not bombard him because my brain is just going on all cylinders in the morning. And for him, his brilliant ideas, and musings and creative pursuits happen best later in the day.

Another thing about how your brain works that you might explore, as you prepare to answer this question is, when do you feel the most encouraged? And when do you feel the most discouraged? And I invite you to think about the monologue, because this is how your brain works, right? So what is the conversation that's happening for you in those times? Like, I noticed as much work as I've done around defining success for myself, my brain is often telling me that I'm doing a good job when there is some external validation, some external marker of success. And it feels and it tells me to be very discouraged when there isn't something splashy that happened, when there isn't an accolade coming from the outside.

And that tells me something about myself. It also tells me about some of the work that I need to continue to do on my own. So this question is broad, right? Like how does your brain work is such a broad question. I just listed a few factors that you might think about. And the goal with this question is for you to again, understand some of how you might care for yourself, given how your brain works. It also invites you to engage with other people in a different way, knowing that how your brain works is not the end all be all, it's not the best. It just happens to be what works well for you in this season. So, how does your brain work?

Maybe you dig into how you process your learning style, your fight flight or freeze response. When you have the most brain power...when you feel encouraged or discouraged. Or maybe you go off on your own tangent. I'm going to give you some time to reflect on this question for yourself.

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. It's Journaling in July and so especially this month, I'm encouraging you if anything popped into your head, whether it was realization or question that you want to explore with the community, I invite you to come hang out in our free online community. It's a space for people who are getting to know themselves in the same way that you are. So thank you for your time and thank you for your expertise. I'll talk to you next week. Take care