35. When Your Brain Freaks Out

Sometimes when we set out to do something big and intimidating we feel very confident in ourselves and our abiltiy to be successful.  Maybe it’s a mission, a new major, returning home from a mission, or marriage.  

But, often… as the time to jump in looms closer we start feeling overwhelmed, inadequate, stressed or doubtful.

When our brain freaks out like this, it can feel all cosuming.  But, there is a way out.  A way to show up powerfully again.  

In this episode you will learn:

•Why brain freak outs are totally normal

•The one thing that might not be useful when you start questioning yourself

•How to move forward even stronger after you’ve gone through a period of self-doubt

Listen in to learn how to get out of your own way and go after the thing you know you really want.

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0:00 Hey, what’s up everyone, it’s Jennie, the LDS mission coach and you are listening to the LDS mission Podcast, episode number 35. When your brain freaks out, I’m Jennie, the LDS mission coach. And whether you’re preparing to serve a mission, currently serving a returned missionary or a missionary mama like me, I created this podcast just for you. Are you searching for epic confidence? Ready to love yourself and to learn the how of doing hard things? Then let’s go. I will help you step powerfully into your potential and never question your purpose. Again. It’s time to embrace yourself. Embrace your mission, embrace your life, and embrace what’s next. Hey, everyone, welcome to the podcast. I’m so excited to be with you here today. I’m just wondering if you could do me a big favor and share this podcast with someone if you’re preparing for your mission. Share with another preparing missionary, if you’re out serving on your mission, you guys, maybe or maybe don’t know that this podcast you can listen to right on Facebook. So many of the missionaries are listening to it and are really getting a lot of use out of it. If you’re a return missionary or a missionary Mom, please just share, really one of my biggest goals is to help as many missionaries as possible get mental and emotional tools to thrive, before the mission on the mission, create the exact mission experience that they want, and really create the life that they want and embrace their life after the mission as well. So the more missionaries I can help the better. So go ahead and just take a screenshot of this episode or another episode that you like and share on social. If you tag me at Jenny dot, the LDS mission coach, then I’ll be able to thank you. So thanks for sharing and getting more help out to more of you. So today, I want to talk about a phenomenon that tends to happen when we’re getting ready to do something big. And what that is, is our brain tends to freak out. It’s, it’s a term that I use a lot with my clients. And it’s just the way I describe what actually happens in the brain when we’re about to do something big or something new. So let me talk to you a little bit about how your lower brain works. So you have a lower brain. And it’s in charge of keeping you alive, it’s in charge of keeping you safe, it’s in charge. Actually, if you’re breathing and your heart rate, it has knee jerk reactions, it is always trying to protect you from danger. So my dog Graham has a lower brain. And actually every animal on the planet, every species on the planet has a lower brain, including us as humans, we actually also have a higher brain that’s in charge of reasoning, it’s in charge of planning. It’s the part of our brain that can think about the future, make plans for the future. It can organize, I sort of think if all of the animals of the forest had higher brains, they’d have Apple watches, and clipboards and planners, right? But they don’t, we’re the only species on the planet that has a higher brain. And what this allows us to do is this allows us and gives us the ability to think about our thinking. Every thought that our lower brain that I sometimes call it the caveman brain, or the primitive brain, every thought that that part of our brain offers us is for three objectives. It’s either to seek pleasure, avoid pain, or conserve energy. So when we are getting ready to do something big or something epic, or something outside of our comfort zone, or something different that we’ve never done before, this lower part of our brain that is in charge of keeping us safe, in charge of keeping us small, wants to conserve energy will freak out.

4:46 It will spit out a sentence like maybe you’re not good enough or it’ll spit out a sentence like this is going to be too hard or it’ll spit out a sentence like you have no idea what you’re doing. it’ll spit out a sentence like you’ll never be a good missionary or it’ll spit out a sentence like there’s no way those people will hire you for this job. Every single one of these sentences that your lower brain offers you is has a specific purpose and design to keep you from moving forward to keep you from stepping out of your comfort zone, and is designed to help you avoid future pain. I’ve seen this with missionaries who are getting ready to leave, they’re on a spiritual high, and then all of a sudden, their date to enter home. MTC gets closer and closer and closer. And all of a sudden, that lower brain comes online and offer sentence after sentence after sentence. Now remember, what I teach is those sentences, create emotions, and those emotions don’t feel very good. But there’s absolutely nothing wrong, that your brain offers you those sentences. They are specifically designed to conserve energy to keep you from doing anything hard. And really just staying the same forever, your brain would love it. If you stayed the same for ever. It’s much easier that way. When we do things over and over and over again, picture like brushing your teeth. We don’t have to every time we brush our teeth, think about okay, which goes in our mouth, the fuzzy part, or the hard part, this the long skinny part. At the end. We’ve just done it so much that we just automatically know what to do. And our brains love this, it can delegate that to the lower part of our brain. And it’s just easy and we can conserve energy. Now so when we try to introduce something else new when we try to introduce a new experience, it makes sense that our brain freaks out a little bit. I’ve also seen this with missionaries who are getting ready to come home, I’ve seen this with my own missionaries who are preparing to come home. I’ve seen so many Facebook posts on this like help. I’m heading home soon, I don’t know what to do. And then we get home and our confidence drops and our spiritual habits change and our whole world feels like it’s being turned upside down. And this is just our brains, just our lower brains. Did you know that your lower brain that caveman brain cannot differentiate between physical danger and emotional danger. So you getting ready to go into the home MTC or the Mexico MTC or the wherever you’re going, your brain feels like you are going into a den of tigers it actually feels like death. It doesn’t want you to experience uncertainty, it doesn’t want you to experience nervousness, it doesn’t want you to experience discomfort. And so it will offer you all of these sentences in an attempt to shut you down. Okay? Again, this is what I call the brain freak out. But guess what I have the best news for you is that this is just your amygdala. It’s the part of your brain that wants to warn you of danger. And if your brain starts freaking out before you do something big or something different. It’s totally normal. I want to say that one more time. It’s totally normal. I’ve seen this in myself actually, as well. Every once in a while in my business where I’m helping missionaries I have an opportunity that comes around that allows me to be more seen by more people and have a little bit bigger of an audience and a little bit bigger of a platform and when these opportunities come around, wouldn’t you know that lower brain gives me sentences? Like no one cares. How do you think you’re good enough? Like who do you think you are? You’re never you’re never gonna be a good coach. Whatever it is like the brain will use any tactic possible to get me to stay here

9:43 to stay where I am and not grow and not develop and not change because change my friends is harder. Growth my friends is harder and and I can attest that on the mission you’re going to grow and change the in ways that you never try seemed even possible in your brain before you leave will be like no things, you know what would be better as if we didn’t do it at all. So one of the things I see happening, especially like in some Facebook groups is, the moms will get on there. And they’ll say, oh my gosh, my son, or my daughter is starting to have this brain freakout, which is the way I describe it. They’re starting to doubt themselves, they’re starting to feel inadequate, they’re starting to feel overwhelmed, they’re starting to feel anxious, they’re starting to feel stressed. And being a coach, I know that this is just the lower brain, doing what lower brains do, warning us of danger, trying to conserve energy, trying to keep us stuck where we are. But then what sometimes these moms say is they say, this is Satan, trying to keep you home from your mission. Now, I just want to say a word about this blaming our emotions on Satan. So a couple of things I want to offer to you today. I’ve thought a lot about this. And maybe this thought is useful to you, like Satan is trying to make me fail. Satan is trying to take me down. Maybe if you think those thoughts create a fuel that’s useful for you, an emotion that’s useful for you, then I say, go ahead and choose those thoughts. 100% Keep them. But what I found for me is I don’t like the idea that Satan has any power over me at all. I love to believe that my agency is in the way I choose to think which creates my emotions. I like to maintain and believe that I have power over my thoughts. And those thoughts create my feelings. And I’m not saying that Satan can’t influence us or anything like that. I’m not like, totally 100% I understand that that’s a thing. But we’ve just got to decide if it’s useful to think when I’m feeling doubt when I’m feeling overwhelmed when I’m feeling stressed when I’m feeling anxious. If that’s Satan, I would like to offer that maybe it’s not, maybe it’s just your lower brain trying to conserve energy and avoid pain. This is just what brains do. The other thing about blaming Satan for negative emotion is that it insinuates that when we feel negative emotions, that it’s wrong. And it’s not wrong, to feel negative emotion. Feeling negative emotion was always a part of our human experience. When we came down to this earth, your emotions are actually just like an alarm system for your body. That when we’re walking down a dark alley, and we see a little bit of rustling in the bushes, and we have the thought like, Ooh, maybe this isn’t a good place for me to be, then we feel fear. And it’s just an alarm system, that lower brain it’s like when a person walks in front of my house, and my dog barks to him. That’s danger. He doesn’t have the higher brain that’s like, oh, well, I don’t know, it’s not that dangerous. He’s actually on the other side of a locked door. Okay. But a motion you guys, the entire range of human and motion is not bad or good. It’s just human. It’s perfectly natural, and normal, and makes complete sense that before you jump into a life changing, trajectory, changing experience, like a mission, that your brain would freak out. 100%. And so when these moms get on there and say, I don’t know what to do, he shouldn’t be feeling this way. He’s lost all his confidence. I’m like, of course. That’s just what his brain is doing. That’s just the alarm systems going off. warning us there’s something big ahead. Sometimes, our lower brains are very convincing. It’s going to offer us thoughts like you’re not good enough. It’s going to offer us thoughts like, you’ll never be able to do this or the mission will be really hard. It’s going to offer us these thoughts in an attempt to keep us stuck and small. And listen, sometimes we believe them.

14:37 And then we feel inadequate and we feel unworthy and we feel stressed or we feel overwhelmed. But remember, we knew when we came to this earth that we would experience opposition in all things. Sometimes I also see on the Facebook groups, the moms say please pray and I think that this can work too right Please pray that my son does not have these thoughts anymore and these feelings anymore, which I think can work. If we can pray we can align our thoughts with Heavenly Father’s thoughts, which I’m pretty sure would tell us. It’s okay. That you feel this way. It makes sense that you feel this way. Of course you feel this way. There goes your brain again, thinking you’re going into a lion’s den. Okay? Her went same when we’re coming home from a mission. All of this makes perfect sense. But listen, we can’t pray to get rid of our lower brain. I mean, I guess we could, but we wouldn’t survive the day. This is the part of your brain that if you were in a burning building says, Hey, we should probably get out of here. And that’s a good thing. When you have these thoughts, it’s a sign that your brain is working exactly as it should. I remember a sister who was giving her farewell talk, she said, and I wasn’t surprised at all when she said this. But as she got closer and closer to the mission, she started having this doubt. And this doubt that she could be a good missionary, and kind of losing this confidence, and starting to feel a little bit inadequate. And of course, I know as a coach, like, these feelings come from her thoughts. And this was just her lower brain freaking out like lower brains do. So she fasted some she prayed some she got a blessing, she was able to realign her thinking with maybe some higher thoughts like, of course, I can do this, you know, this is what God wants. For me, I’m willing to feel all of the emotions. And instead of feeling doubt, she started feeling a different feeling, like confidence or certainty. And then when she was talking, she said, and now I know, I’ll never doubt again. And I didn’t do this. But what I wanted to do is I wanted to go up to her after and say, Did you know your brain goes with you on your mission. That same brain that was offering her thoughts to try to keep her stuck and feel small and be safe and in the cave is with her on her mission to. And if it’s not doubt, she’ll be feeling some other negative emotion because that’s just what brains do, they default to negativity. And so the most powerful thing that we can do is we can just notice that brain. It’s okay, if your brain freaks out, I picture it, like we’ve been in this little warm cave, living our lives doing what we do. And all of a sudden, someone’s like, it’s time for you to step out of the cave and go face the lions. Of course, our brain freaks out. I was thinking about this line from the hem, how firmer foundation, all strengthen the help the end cause the to stand. It doesn’t say I’ll take away all of your negative emotion and you’re never gonna feel doubt or fear or overwhelm or stress. Because you have a brain. But through prayer, we can be strengthened. In our doubt, we can be strengthened in our fear and we can stand that is what’s awesome is we can still take action, we can still go on our mission, even when we feel a little bit of fear. Even when we feel a little bit of overwhelm, even when we have thoughts. Like I’m not good enough. That’s just your brain anyway, it’s literally a sentence, a trick. Your brain tries to play on you to conserve energy, and avoid future pain. This is what I like to tell myself is sentences like this. Here’s the part of being a human on this earth, where I feel angry.

19:38 It is totally fine. Here’s the part of being a missionary where I feel inadequate. And it’s totally fine. It’s just my brain. Here’s the part of being a college student where I feel overwhelmed and stressed. And it’s totally fine. That’s just my brain. Doing what brains do. Here’s the part of being a mom on this earth, where I feel worried. Doesn’t mean that Satan has power over you, it just means you’re a human. And also, just one more note, did you know that just because your brain offers you a thought, a sentence to keep you stuck, doesn’t make it true. All your brain is ever trying to do is trying to meet those objectives of seeking pleasure. Avoid pain and conserving energy. Now, you’ll have to know how to feel your feelings. It’s not super fun to feel anxious or overwhelmed or inadequate. Those are feelings that you can feel. And if you go back to my episode number three, all the fields, I teach you how to actually feel your feelings. So you can go take a listen to that. But remember, your brain, if it had its way, would just have us eat crumpled cookies, watch Netflix, and nap for the rest of our lives. That’d be the easy way. That would certainly conserve energy, and we could certainly avoid pain. So imagine how much resistance your brain will offer you when you want to serve a mission. Or when you want to come home from a mission or when you want to get married or when you want to apply for that dream job. Of course your brains going to come online and freak out. Your brains can default to negativity, it’s fine. It’s going to always spit out sentences. It’s fine. Totally normal. Nothing wrong. This is what I do mostly, is I just say, Ah, I hear you brain. But I’m moving forward. Anyway. Okay, you guys, I hope you have the most amazing week. Totally fine. When your brain freaks out. Just move forward. Anyway. Take care. Thanks so much for joining me on the podcast today. Listen, if you are learning a lot from this podcast and you like what you’re hearing, you will absolutely love hopping on a free strategy call with me. That’s where you and I meet up one on one and talk specifically about what is going on for you. I love teaching young adults the mental and emotional tools that they need to overcome orient anxiety, serve the successful missions they’ve always dreamed of and navigate their post mission experience with confidence. So go to Jennie dildine.com, and click on the work with me link. I would love to meet you. And I would love to get you some helpful tools and strategies to help you fully embrace whatever is next for you. And in the meantime, no matter which part of the mission experience you’re involved in. Just know that Jennie the LDS mission coach is thinking about you every single day.

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Hey! I'm Jennie - The LDS Mission Coach.

Preparing for, serving and coming home from an LDS Mission can present countless changes and transitions. I’ve seen these changes put missionaries at the mercy of their emotions and questioning their abilities. With the tools I teach, young adults empower themselves to navigate every moment of the mission experience with epic, unwavering confidence.

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