“An idea. Resilient, highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain, it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed, fully understood. That sticks, right in there somewhere.” -Quote from the film Inception.
The heart is a very tragic thing. It beats, it keeps you alive, but yet, in a half a second, it also can tear you apart. The constant battle between the brain and the heart exists on a second-to-second basis. The brain yells “What the heck is wrong with you? Can’t you be logical?” and the heart responds with “I know what I feel and I feel it deeply. No logic needed.”
They say it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. 3 weeks to get over something; to change your mentality and mindset. I disagree wholeheartedly. Everyone is different, of course, and everyone deals with things in diverse ways. For instance, when it comes to loss and grief, they say it can take up to 1 year for things to feel “okay” again. Maybe for the normal population. For me? I lost my dog almost 4 years ago and I’m still grieving. Perhaps it’s more about emotion than it is about habit. Everyone has a different amount willpower to keep going. The feeling I have when I wake up in the morning is certainly not the same as yours. So then, how long does it take to truly feel better from loss or from an idea that has stuck with you and won’t leave?
My mind gets hooked on ideas very quickly. My heart tags along even quicker. That’s probably why I’m so good at making new friends and keeping them. I am quick to respond, quick to become emotional, quick to create ties with people. Maybe I’m a romantic, but I “love” love. I am a flower that blooms so quickly, but can die if not watered.
When my mind is stuck on something, I ruminate. Then my brain sends a message to my heart, telling me to ditch the idea, to ditch the concept that is false, but my heart doesn’t listen. It never does, really. The minute someone enters my life, I feel so deeply that I want them to stay and I’ll do anything to keep them there. When they leave for whatever reason, an idea plants into the forest of my brain and shoots down to my heart, who then expresses a sense of self-hate, self-blame and a lack of self-worth. So, how do you get rid of an idea that won’t go away? How do you tell your heart that you can’t blame yourself for the things that have happened? How can you get rid of those feelings that lie so deeply planted into your system?
The quick answer: you don’t.
The better answer: time heals all wounds — but to be frank, I hate this response. I hate when someone tells me to be patient. I am not a patient person. My heart hurts and I want it to stop hurting NOW. But, as the quick answer suggests, there is no quick fix, and time is, indeed, the right thing to wait for.
In the meantime, though, to stop the ideas from ruminating, you can try to retrain your neurons. Every time that idea pops into your mind, prevent the brain from sending it to your heart. Tell yourself that you are positive, that you are worthy, that you are beautiful, that you are not to blame for the things that have gone awry. Think of one positive thing. Just like in Inception, when you plant an idea into someone’s head, that’s all they’ll think about. But the opposite is also true. Plant a different idea. Plant a positive idea every time that same, negative, sad idea pops up. Keep thinking about something good and maybe that will suffice.
But, does it always work? Absolutely not. There are days that I try to convince myself to change my mindset, to question my thoughts. Often times I just end up crying because it is so overwhelming and takes a lot of energy to try to challenge yourself. But I cry, and then I get up again, and then I challenge those ideas. Why? Because it beats forfeiting my right to control my thoughts and becoming depressed.
The brain and the heart have a connection that I’ll never understand. I’ll never get why logic and emotion cannot be paired together and fight the good fight. The brain is always right. If you keep planting those positive ideas, maybe your neural networks will fortify, and maybe then your heart won’t feel so hurt. Strengthening connections will help to change your mindset.
In the end, there is no right or wrong answer. We end up doing what our heart tells us and then we get knocked down. But, in that same end, our brain saves the day by helping us get back on our feet; to remind ourselves that we have more control over our thoughts than we think we do; that an idea is just that…an idea. Water that idea, or don’t…it’s your choice, but only if you have enough strength and willpower to challenge yourself.