By Joey Wilson
Physically, yes you are. Did you ever wonder where Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland got the idea for the Mad Hatter? It was a phrase associated with industrial felt hat workers in 19th century England. Workers were becoming toxic due to a process called carroting. To make felt mercury was used to separate fur from the animal skin. A toxic nitrous gas was released from mercury (II) nitrate causing the fur to shrink and change color, which made it easy to remove. A side effect of the process was Mercurial disease or “Mad as a Hatter.” The hatters over time exhibited tremors, irritability, and mental instability[i].
We may not be making felt hats, but we are living in a very toxic world. Toxins that effect the brain are everywhere. You will find them from our household cleaning products to perfume. They are in the air we breathe and what we eat. The brain is very efficient in absorbing these heavy metals and chemicals and retaining them. If these substances are allowed to build up and damage the brain, the following symptoms may result[ii]:
- Personality changes
- Memory loss
- Inability to focus
- Physical tics
For optimal brain health there is one more key factor to consider: your thoughts.
In the book of Proverbs there is one verse that comes to mind: “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” Proverbs 23:7
What do you think about? Did you know that what you think about, over time most likely will occur? Our thinking can change our DNA[iii]. The brain is the command center of the human body. What we think creates our habits. You don’t think so? Right now, do not think of a pink elephant. A big fat PINK elephant! Did you think of a pink elephant? Most likely you did. A simple suggestion made you create a thought. Suggestions bombard you every day, mostly negative. You then must make a choice to accept or reject this suggestion.
Many of us live with “Stinkin Thinkin”[iv]. What is “Stinkin Thinkin”. It is when our thought are negative. Here are some examples:
Siinkin Thinkin # 1 All or Nothing Thinking
The world is perceived as black or white, not grey. If it’s not perfect then it is no good or you are a total failure.
Stinkin Thinkin # 2 Overgeneralization
Having a single negative event become a never-ending pattern of defeat using words such as “always” or “never”, and reliving it in your thoughts. A depressed salesman became terribly upset when he noticed bird dung on the windshield of his car. He tells himself, “Just my luck! Birds are always taking a dump on my car!”
Stinkin Thinkin # 3 Mental Filter
You pick a single negative comment and dwell on it exclusively. Your vision of reality now becomes distorted or darkened. For example: You do an awesome presentation, you receive excellent feedback. One person approached you and comments about your tie being a slight distraction. For days, you obsess about the critic and forget the positives.
Stinkin Thinkin #4 Discounting the Positive
Rejecting the positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count”. You tell yourself you did not do a good job. Someone else could have done it better. Discounting the positives takes the joy out of life and makes you feel inadequate.
Stinkin Thinkin #5 Jumping to Conclusions
You interpret things negatively when there are no facts to support your conclusion. “I am going to fail this test”. “I am not good at this”.
Stinkin Thinkin #6 Magnification
You exaggerate the importance of your problems and shortcoming, or you minimize the importance of your desired qualities.
Stinkin thinkin #7 Emotional Reasoning
You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel hopeless. I must really be hopeless.”
Stinkin Thinkin #8 “Should” Statements
You tell yourself things should be the way you hoped or expect them to be. It does not meet your expectations, “I shouldn’t have made so many mistakes!” You quit for several days or forever. Other offenders; “Musts”,” Ought’s” and “Have Tos.”
Stinkin Thinkin #9 Labeling
Labeling is an extreme form of all or nothing. For example; you attach a label of “I am loser!” instead of “I made a mistake”. Labelling is a useless abstraction that will lead to anger, anxiety, frustration, and low self-esteem.
Have you heard the idiom “You can’t judge a book by its cover”? I am not referring to the song by Bo Diddle. We label people either by how they look, act or say. This can make you biased, hostile, and feel hopeless about improving things.
Stinkin Thinkin #10 Personalization and Blame
Personalization comes when you hold yourself personally responsible for an event that is not entirely under your control. Then there is blame. You blame other people or circumstances for your problems, and overlook in how you may be contributing to the situation.
The good news is the brain and how you think can change. Your mind controls your brain and your brain responds to your thoughts. With positive thoughts, your brain will function the way it was created to be: relaxed, balanced and in harmony. With negative thoughts or Stinkin Thinkin, your brain responds in ways that are detrimental to your mental and physical health, and actions.
It starts with your core values and beliefs. How do you see yourself and what do you believe about the outside world? Your core will shape your attitude and how you are going to react to situations. The results of your actions will shape your life.[v]
This is simple, yet hard to do. To add more to the equation, your life experiences spice up the mix. I am rather confident we all have experienced some level of emotional and/or physical trauma. The severity of the trauma will determine if you will be able to work through the process.
When your brain is functioning at its natural state of relaxation, the left side of the brain is slightly dominating. When you are in danger, the right-side kicks in and you go into fight or flight. By reliving the experience, over time this excited state becomes the new normal. You are no longer able to return to your natural state of relaxation. This is when your brain becomes stuck.
At this state, it becomes difficult to create change. The reason is – the brain is fighting the change. You can force change, however it may induce additional stress (this has been my personal experience). Brainwave Optimization (BWO) helps your brain to break the state of being stuck. It does it on your brain’s terms, from the inside out.
When your brain is functioning properly, in harmony, balanced and relaxed, you are in a better position to work on the challenges that are holding you back from a better life. It is simple but hard to do. We all have gifts and talents. The problem is we sometimes allow our thought life to become toxic. What are you capable of achieving? Start your journey and detoxify your mind and your brain and become that person you were created to be.
Until next time, take care.
An Optimal Brain is a licensed provider for Brainstate Technologies.
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[i] Kathryn J. Kitzmiller, Ph.D., CAS (Chemical Abstract Services) “The Not-So-Mad Hatter: Occupational Hazards of Mercury” http://www.cas.org/news/insights/science-connections/mad-hatter
[ii] Dr. Daniel Amen MD, Amen Clinics “Brain Toxicity” http://www.amenclinics.com/conditions/brain-toxicity/
[iii] Dr. Caroline Leaf, “Switch On Your Brain”, BakerBooks,
[iv] David Burns, “The Top 10 Types of “Stinkin Thinkin” PsychCentral, https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-top-10-types-of-stinkin-thinkin/
[v] Modeled after Jeff Olson, “The Slight Edge” SUCCESS | BOOKS