Tuesday, September 01, 2015

21-day Amygdala Whispering Challenge

Day 1: It's not true


A rarely used word that is the seat of all our negative emotions, our fears and anxieties. It has its purpose, of course. It warns us about imminent danger. But it also holds negative thoughts that induce fear and stress.

Strange how out of the 60,000 stray strands of thought that float through the sieve of our minds on a daily basis, we latch on, with adhesive ferocity, to those that demean us. Those thoughts that seek to make us less than what we are.

I'm no better.

There's the sensible part of me that knows those thoughts aren't true. But which part do you think I believe? No marks for guessing, though you're right. I listen, and believe, the one I shouldn't be listening to.

And so I decided to take this challenge.

The 21-day Amygdala Whispering Challenge by Deb Schanilec, hosted on the Kindspring site. If there is any amygdala that deserves some tough conversation, a taste of its own bitter medicine, it is mine. 

My amygdala ensures that there is this negative commentary running through my head. 

It spares no occasion to improve my life by giving me the benefit of its exalted opinion.

I'm not tall enough.
Not pretty enough.
Not photogenic enough.
Not outgoing enough.
Not assertive enough.

Even when it condescends to put in a good word, its praise is diluted by a few 'buts'. 

And so at Deb's prodding, I am going to cock a snook at it. 
I am going to say, Hey, Amygdala, stop shouting in my head.

As part of the challenge, on Day 1, I have to whisper three words in my amygdala's ears.

Not those three words, but three others equally important.
I have to say, "It's not true."

I have to say these words over and over again, each time my amygdala sings its favourite tune. I have to speak louder and silence it forever.

My personal bugbear, one I am admitting aloud for the first time, is that I am not pretty or photogenic enough to be photographed. And so I always rush wildly out through the nearest exit each time someone whips out a camera. You can imagine my plight in these days of smartphones. Selfies make me cringe. I always manage to turn my head so my face isn't caught on camera.

Of course, I am no celebrity, so it isn't as if crazy paparazzi are stalking me. Thank God for small mercies.

On the other hand, I have hardly any pictures with my loved ones. On the rare occasion when someone does frame me, I feel so trapped, I try hard to grab their camera and delete the offending picture. Which explains why I keep recycling the one or two good pictures I have. 

So my mini-goal for Day 1 of this challenge is that the next time, someone asks me to say cheese, I will say it, with all the gusto and enthusiasm I can insert into that word. And if a certain something tries to point out that I'm not good enough, I'm going to say out loud, "It's not true."

That will shut Amygdala up for sure.

On second thoughts, I had better not say that out loud.

People who talk to voices in their heads should always do so silently.

Shouting aloud might shut the amygdala up. But it might get set other tongues wagging.


  1. Oh Cynthia, I hear you loud and clear. Your amygdala has a twin in my head whispering the same thing. The pic on my site is from 2004. I hate having my picture taken cause they always turn out awful. The one you are using is lovely. I think we end up seeing so many 'bad' shots, that we end up thinking we really look that way, but cameras do not always capture what is beautiful about us.

  2. You're right, Denise, sometimes we are too harsh with ourselves. We would never dream of talking so rudely to another person, but we think nothing of being rude with ourselves. Not that I'm going to change overnight, but I think a change has to be made. For starters, I'd like to show a little more enthusiasm when my kids say, "Mamma, let's have a picture."

  3. Your kids, and the rest of your body will thank you as you learn how to circumvent the amygdala's negative effects. Thank you so much for signing up for the challenge!

  4. Thank you, livelihood pliant. I hope to succeed at the challenge. It will be difficult. There'll be eons of negativity to be countered.



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