- TWIL (This Week I Learned)
This week I learned about being a miracle (and a pain in the ass) - I listened to the book by Mike McHargue (Science Mike) by that name.
And, well, if there ever were a book to accompany this newsletter/project, that would be it.
The combination of brain science and gorgeous writing about his own emotional growth and healing hit home.
Science Mike attempts to figure out why we do what we do…even when we know we shouldn’t and we do it anyway. The face that he makes it clear that the book isn’t a self help book, that he isn’t going to give you 5 quick answers – made me keep listening.
I love this book, because it is about how I am learning to love me, and it also an invitation for you to learn to love you. I believe that when we learn to truly accept ourselves, we gain the remarkable ability to experience the full range of human emotions in a way that invites us into relationships with others, true intimacy, and the courage to face difficult times. Of all the work I have done, and all the stories I’ve shared, this book is what I am most proud of. ― Mike McHargue
“Though you may think of yourself as the conductor of the orchestra that is your life, you are more like the orchestra itself, a myriad of musicians coming together to create a single symphony.”
“Your brain isn’t here to show you an honest picture of the world, or to make you happy. It’s not here to make rational decisions, or to help you advance up the corporate ladder. Your body spent the energy it takes to build something as powerful as your brain for one reason and one reason only: Your brain helps you survive on a planet that is often hostile to life.”
The way our brains work, it’s not simply the words that matter (thought they do) it’s also how they are said. The emotions behind them.
As Mike says at one point, “a sharp word can literally take your breath away”
True - and kind words can do the opposite.
One of the most heart wrenching parts of the book for me was the section where he learns that he has been leaning on his storytelling to avoid emotions and stay stuck in trauma.
Yup. And it was affecting his health. What he found was necessary, and what he did with the help of a very qualified and masterful psychologist, was understand how he was feeling about certain stories in his life.
Do you still do this? When you tell stories about your life, are you there, with the emotions you are feeling? Or have you distanced yourself from the emotions?
Think of a story from your life — any story of a past happening. Your choice whether to use trauma or simply your 5th birthday or the last time you walked through a park or visited your family.
Try this: Try to write out your story, and as you do, go slowly, stopping to ask how you are feeling at certain points. If you find yourself describing stuff, dancing around how you are feeling, or feeling vaguely anxious, notice that. Stay curious.
“Anxiety doesn’t tell us very much. It’s like the “check engine” light in your car, which tells you something’s wrong without telling you what it is.”
Where’s the miracle?
Fair. So far, I have been focusing on the Pain in the Ass part!
To the Underbelly of the story.
Anxiety helps us know that there’s something we need to look at, at some point. Using soothing methods like deep breathing, laughter, cold water, singing, yoga, forest bathing, etc (see my self help course to create a kit for yourself
) will help you stay safe and secure.
My ask for this week is that you begin to love that anxiety in you. Love that anxious self, helping you notice that — at some point, when you’re ready — your check engine light is on, and at some point, when you’re ready, you ought to take yourself to a people-mechanic (a well trained psychologist) to help walk you through your engine and give yourself a tuneup (Did that metaphor hold?)
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
You are a miracle. We all are miracles. Life is a miracle.