The Rewired Brain

“Did you know? You can ‘REWIRE’ your brain to be happy by simply recalling 3 things you’re grateful for everyday for 21 days.” – Unknown

I saw this quote floating around online, and it irked me. There’s nothing overtly wrong with it. It’s a nice sentiment. The words come from a desire to help people live a better life. Live a happier life! Who doesn’t want to be happier? Yeah, that would be a welcome change.

If there’s nothing wrong with the words then why is it bothering me? I’ve been turning it over and over trying to figure it out. I’m irked but not upset. Bothered but not angry. Annoyed, sure, but why? Why can’t I just let it go and keep scrolling?

Let me be clear about one thing: This is a “me problem.” It has nothing to do with the people that reposted the quote. They weren’t trying to stir up trouble or start a controversy. They weren’t being insensitive. They read the quote, it sounded good, so they hit share. We’ve all posted platitudes without diving below the surface. We’ve all hit share without a second thought. We read some pretty words and we hit the button. It’s that simple.

I’m not calling anyone out, and I’m not upset. I’m simply irked, and I’ve been trying to figure out why. These words hit a raw nerve but why? Why have I been turning them over in my mind? Why is it bothering me so much? It’s just a platitude. A pretty little sentiment wrapped up in a bow. A simple sentence that offers a map to the promised land. 

So simple. So easy. So quick.

Wait a second. There it is! A simple solution for a complex issue. Change your life in 21 days. Three easy steps to a new you. It’s so simple anyone can do it. What’s the problem with that? These nice sentiments walk along the same path that snake oil slithers. They offer quick fixes that boil our pain down until it sounds like trivia at a bingo hall. They leave us feeling dismissed, unseen, blamed, and invalidated.

I’ve heard so many different cures and they’ve all come from well-meaning souls. I’ve been told to put on a sweater if I want to cure my kidney disease. Go for a walk to cure my depression. Pray more. Pray harder. Eat more greens. Drink green tea. Just put a little makeup on and dress a little nicer. List three things you’re grateful for and your brain will be rewired.

The sweater thing was just silly but going for a walk can help ease the symptoms of depression. Fresh air, sun on my skin, looking at natural beauty does me a world of good. What it won’t do? It won’t cure a major depressive episode because I physically can’t get out of bed. What about prayer? I believe in prayer. It’s something I do every day. It’s the one place I can be completely honest and open. It’s my one safe place but my brain and body are still damaged. It hasn’t cured me. Eating healthier, putting on clean clothes, and making myself feel pretty? Yes, it can boost my mood but a cure-all?

There’s a grain of truth in many of these remedies, and they can help ease the symptoms. Gratitude, for example, is an excellent way to refocus our attention. Depression blocks out the joy and all we see are the negative things in our lives. Taking five minutes to look for something good? Yes, it’s a tool that can combat the illness but will it rewire my brain? 

I’ve been doing a gratitude list every day for over a year. I don’t have a magic number. I just go until I can’t think of anything else. It has helped relieve some of the pressure, but my anxiety disorder is screaming at me right now and depression is trying to drag me down. I’ve been in a slump for over a month. I’ve been struggling but every day I list everything I’m grateful for because it takes the edge off. 

It gives me a moment’s peace, but it hasn’t rewired my mind. My gremlin is still right a home in my brain. I’m fighting to hang on, and I use every tool at my disposal. I go for walks, pray, and I try to remind myself of the good things in my life. They keep the darkness from taking over, but they haven’t cured my illnesses or written a new story over old scars.

Try as we might, trivializing our suffering with pretty words won’t fix the cause of our pain. There’s no magic cure and, yes, I wish there was. I wish there was a quick way to make my heart hurt less and the panic rise a little slower. I’d give anything to make it all go away but the only way out is through.

The first step in healing is admitting we’ve been hurt. Acknowledge the pain we feel, give it a name, and then walk the long, hard, road of recovery. Long walks, prayer, positive thoughts, maybe even a cup of tea can aid our journey. They offer support, guidance, and comfort but they won’t magically cure a damaged mind. That takes compassion, understanding, time and maybe some professional help. Most of all, it takes courage to keep fighting when every cell in our bodies are begging us to quit. 

If no one else has said this to you, let me be the first. Your pain is valid. You’re seen. Most of all, you aren’t alone.

I usually have an inspiration quote on my Monday post so I’ll leave you with something Winston Churchill said, “It is the courage to continue that counts.”

Thanks for reading. Please leave me your thoughts. Like, susbcribe, and I’ll see you Friday. Have an amazing week!

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