Tag: positive vibes

The Brain is Not a Self-Driving Vehicle

Picture this: It’s a busy evening in the city and you just called for a taxi. You open the door and slide into the back seat and expect to be greeted with the usual, “where to?” from the cab driver. Except you look up and there is no driver. Uhmmmm…excuse me?!  This isn’t a self-driving vehicle — you literally just watched the driver open the door and step out, with the meter running, when you got in. Bizarre, no? No more strange than what we allow to happen to our thought patterns on a daily basis.  Brain science is leading to greater understanding that just like the heart is an organ designed to beat, the brain is an organ designed to generate thoughts.  The problem is: your brain could care less what it thinks about!

We are meant to take the wheel. And just like anything else, it takes time to learn to steer this runaway train (am I the only one who has felt this way?).

When we allow our thoughts to drive, we often find ourselves in sketchy back alleys, on streets with potholes, taking pointless detours and multiple right turns, and stopping by every fast-food restaurant and liquor store on our way to our destination…which is what? Our brain, unless purposefully directed, does not inherently have goals in mind!

We were meant to be in the driver’s seat, taking control of our thoughts, and evaluating the thoughts our brain is generating.  I know… sounds exhausting, “I have to think about what I’m thinking about?  Yikes!”  Yet think about the alternative: do you want to continue just being a passenger (dare I say prisoner) to the organ of your brain?

While “training” our brains does take some effort to produce a physical change (new neuropathways), your future self will thank you.  Now you may think I’m talking distant future, a year or two from now, but I’m not!  I’m talking only 30-90 days from now. As with any new physical training, it is best you feed yourself well, get the right amount of sleep (7-8hrs), and healthy blood flow to your brain through exercise to set yourself up for success.

Now for the good news!  Once our brains have been taught to steer to the beautiful scenic drives, you can start to relax and enjoy the drive more and more.  That’s right! New neuropathways are formed where they previously weren’t, and with practice and time, the brain starts to follow these new roads automatically. That’s not to say that you can go back to snoozing in the backseat, but it does help to know that those anxious thoughts may not always plague you.


Courtney is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at The Holistic Mental Health Clinic in St. Petersburg, FL. If you would like to learn how to put your hands on the wheel and learn to steer your brain you can contact Courtney at 727-520-9447 or by email.

Accepting the Broken Pieces

potteryI was at a party last weekend when a close acquaintance approached me about the self I present on social media and asked how I had come around to loving myself. I laughed, thinking that her riot-sarcasm targeting my insecurities and self-worth issues was beyond genus humor, (hey, I’m all into self-deprecating humor, especially when it comes from other people) until I realized she was quite serious. So much for irony being dead.

I say a lot of things to other people that I need to hear for myself. And I think, just maybe, it’s a small way I’m learning to accept and internalize some deep-seated self-acceptance. That’s a far cry from the “loving myself” piece I’m trying to obtain, but it’s a start.

For the better part of this past year, I have led a group of precious and patient people in a yoga fusion class that ends with a meditation piece. I’m utterly terrified to be in crowds, so their patience comes in handy as I repeatedly stammer through the microphone and mix up an elbow for a knee or reverse my left and right. (Am I the only one on the planet who gets completely and absolutely stupid when nervous?! Natural selection would’ve counted me out years ago if it hadn’t been for antidepressants and caffeine!). But during that final meditation piece, I find myself channeling the person I want so badly to become. I sit watch as they are reclined in savasana, fully surrendered to a few moments of serenity and guided meditation. They are vulnerable, and I am both the watchdog and the shepherd. In that moment, I am self-aware, content with the person I am, and in that acceptance, able to move out of the way so that other people can obtain peace through my gift.

So back to my friend with the ironic sense of humor. After the awkward moment of stammering through an apology for not taking her seriously while simultaneously trying to describe my very strange, possibly self-harming sense of humor, I said: “I’m working on that every day.” Had I had the foresight, I would’ve followed that up with, “I’m realizing that I can’t fully love others until I learn to love myself; that I can’t expect to have patience with others until I extend that patience to myself, first; and I certainly cannot accept all of another’s darkness and insecurities without first learning to accept the broken pieces in my own life.”

But how do I even begin to love myself?  Here is what I’m learning to practice and I invite you to join in.  Relax and take a rare moment for yourself.  Take in the following thoughts and feel what it feels like to allow yourself to let go of unnecessary stress.

Let Go of Perfectionism.fb_img_1472519971348Photo credit: Courtney Parker Tiner of Brave Monster Photography

The problem with perfectionism is having unrealistic expectations…of yourself and others. When those expectations are not met, disappointment occurs. When internalized, it can become depression. When externalized, it can become resentment and further relationship problems. Combat perfectionism by learning to voice your expectations and set realistic personal goals. Practice mindfulness in the midst of chaos. Notice things out of place and learn to leave them there. Give grace.

Stop Comparison Games.


Photo credit: Courtney Parker Tiner of Brave Monster Photography

My creative outlet is photography. As such, I “follow” tons of other photogs on social media to challenge myself. But some days, instead of it presenting a helpful challenge, it causes me to nearly want to put down my camera forever, thinking that I’ll never reach that level of technical proficiency, or have enough time to travel to such-and-such place. It’s defeating. While there is something to be said about learning how to not allow other success stories to discourage you, it is also imperative that you learn what topics, people, pictures, etc. trigger you to respond negatively to yourself. The best thought to have here is “Another’s success doesn’t take away from my success rather it is just an example of wonderful success! There is enough success for everyone to be successful, including me!”

 Be Grateful.


Photo credit: Courtney Parker Tiner of Brave Monster Photography

Gratitude often involves looking in the rear-view mirror and acknowledging how the past has shaped the present. Keep a gratefulness journal. Pray instead of worry (thank the Divine, the Universe, etc.) and remember Spirit hears how you feel. Verbalize your “thank you”s more to the people around you.

Do Hard Things.


Photo credit: Courtney Parker Tiner of Brave Monster Photography

Yeah! Everybody’s favorite! NOT!  Yet in order to reach anything worth having we have to face this one. Your passion and purpose may lie just beyond the threshold of fear. Yep, you too may find yourself twisting into a human pretzel while wearing a Britney Spears-eque microphone, giving posing cues to a crowd, with fear-sweat trickling down your back. Good for you – your chutzpah is showing! *wink*


Courtney Parker Tiner is a Florida Registered Intern at the Holistic Mental Health Clinic. She can be reached at Courtney@THMHC.com or by calling 727.520.9447