I shared on a friend's facebook post that in constantly berating others for buying toilet paper we are in a round about way shaming others and not showing compassion. She countered that wiping out stores is not very compassionate either. I don't disagree but I think there may be some gross misunderstandings of what is going on here amid the Covid-19 situation.
I want to shed a little bit of light on the toilet paper thing from the neuropsychology of fear.
When fear is “driving the bus” that means that the oldest part of our brain - the reptilian (named this because Reptiles also have this part in their brain) or Limbic System ( or emotional brain as you may have also heard it called) is activated.
The Reptilian Brain or Limbic System is driven by high intensity emotions like fear and the reason is primarily for survival. Our brains are hardwired to see the negative - it’s an actual thing called The Negativity Bias - and it’s quite frankly been evolved into place for our species survival. We look out for threats, we’re constantly on the watch for them so that we can evade them and learn from them and therefore survive. It’s an ancient part of our biology and frankly, we haven’t evolved out of it - it’s still very much alive and well within us even though the threats today look very different then they did in ancient times.
Our Pre-frontal Cortex - or decision making centre in the brain is responsible for thinking things through rationally, or looking and planning ahead. This is where we can rationalize and consider not only ourselves but also others.
The important thing to note here is that when the Limbic System (reptilian brain) is driving the bus, the Pre-frontal Cortex (think of this part of the brain as like your most calm cool and collected friend who can make wise and educated decisions) goes offline. When fear is activating that ancient brain we just can’t think and act the way that we normally would because we can’t actually access the part of the brain that allows for thinking ahead, thinking of others, rationalizing.
Enter shame - when people are shamed they are thrown into a form of fight or flight or freeze and that is because shame is another form of threat. It’s a threat to your character, your actions, your very sense of self.
I consider myself to be a good person, I try to do the best I can for myself and others but it doesn’t always come out the way I intend it to. I’m sure that you can say the same for yourself.
So when people start to post all over the internet images of shelves that are wiped clean, you may start to feel ashamed that you partook in buying resources for your family. Did you take too much? How are we to know at this point of uncertainty? The very fact that we do not know is the highest intensity of fear going. With that being said, the biological and psychological knee jerk reaction is to do what is necessary for yourself and your loved ones.
The toilet paper thing? I think it’s less about the actual product and what it is used for and more about the the symbolism of uncertainty and fear. No one wants to be stuck without - no matter what that is.
However when we condemn others for doing what they thought was necessary in a time where their emotional brain was completely driving their decisions. This act of shaming others for making decisions that they may not usually make only adds to the feeling of threat and scarcity.
I will admit that I found myself putting toilet paper into my cart and telling myself that I actually needed it but upon returning home when I opened the cupboard I in fact already had toilet paper .
In fact my mom legitimately buys toilet paper any time its on sale and delivers it to anyone she loves - which means I usually always have a good supply - but in the moments at the grocery store when fear was the prevailing energy I was quite literally not able to access my rational brain and think it through and remember that this is the case. I’m willing to bet this happened to many other people as well.
After seeing empty shelves in stores I felt a wave of shame that I have shelves that are full in my home - but the truth is that that is often the case for us and what I’ve come to realize again and again is how fortunate we are to have the opportunities to afford us the ability to have extra in times of plenty and in times of need.
The shame that I felt is maybe something that you have felt too and possibly haven’t recognized it as such yet. Perhaps you are judging others for stocking up even though admittedly you may actually have plenty. (We sometimes counter this at holidays by having food drives) Perhaps this judgement is just another mask for fear. Maybe judging others is a big misunderstanding. (Passing judgement in any situation usually is about misunderstanding in my opinion) But I can tell you that passing judgement on others for doing what they feel like they need to do for survival (toilet paper or not) is shaming and only further adding to the fear.
I did/do feel shame for having my shelves full and yet here is how I’m working through it:
I wish you heaps of self compassion, self forgiveness, a sense of safety, love and goodwill and if you need anything, please reach out and let’s problem solve together.
I have decided that I am no longer complaining about weather. I know I know, you're shocked and appalled and wondering what the heck you're going to talk to me about right?! It is so interesting to me when people say things like “Crazy weather we’re having eh?” or "Ughh it's so cold!" I mean honestly if we all had a dollar for every time someone said this to you or you said this to someone else you would probably be able to retire early or at the very least take a pretty great vacay no?
Here’s the thing, even though we have decided that as Canadians we “bond” over the weather chit chat, it actually reinforces that negative loop in our brains. Humans have on average somewhere between 20K and 60K thoughts in every single day. Even if they are thought fragments or just an image that pops up in your mind, that counts towards that overall number. I don’t know about you but the weather comes up at least once or twice a day in conversation with others and so added up over time we spend a lot of our thoughts and time on the weather.
Dr. Rick Hanson says that we are hardwired for negativity. Our brain did this thousands of years ago for survival. So, okay it might be an ancient response to complain about the winter weather because yes thousands of years ago it really could have been a survival situation if we weren’t properly prepared. But now? Now we have peppermint mocha lattes, ugg slippers and gas fireplaces to get cozy with. It’s really no longer a matter of survival on a daily basis for most of us (I’m willing to assume that if you’re reading this you have adequate shelter in these winter months and of course I’m not talking about freak storms that actually do threaten our well-being in an acute way.)
If we want to work towards a more positive way of life (and I know I do!) then we have to be willing to get off of the “weather complaint” band wagon. It’s such a simple topic of conversation that so many people use as an ice breaker which is why I think that it becomes such a force of habit. But imagine if we could use other topics of conversation instead? Imagine if we asked someone instead “what do you like to DO in this weather?”, you might just be surprised by the answers that you receive.
In fact, even those of us who are guilty of weather “group think” complaining may own a pari of skis or snowshoes which indicates to me that at some point you decided that you weren’t just going to make the most of the season but that you were actually going to give an honest effort towards enjoying it. Imagine…enjoying winter weather!
Danish people have a saying that “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” If we could embrace this principal then we could probably be better able to enjoy the cold or damp weather that comes our way. In fact if we could get outside more often and move our bodies and feel comfortable while doing so then we can also increase our immune system’s ability to fight off winter viruses. Yes it seems like a real investment when purchasing high quality outer wear but I have personally been blown away by the difference and have been able to more comfortably enjoy outdoor time in colder temperatures.
Here are some suggestions to enjoy the winter weather this year:
I have a question for you...
Do you ever hear yourself saying things like "ugh I wish I had more time!" or better yet "There's just not enough time!"???
I know that this was something that I was complaining about a lot earlier this year and I really had to check myself because - umm did you know that we ALL have the same amount of hours in the day? Uh ya. Well, we do!
I had to really check myself and see if I was *actually* using my time wisely. As in, how much time was I ACTUALLY spending on my phone scrolling? Turns out it was quite a lot! I ended up really becoming more mindful of my online time and scaling back and I can honestly say that I have been a happier, more focused and more ACTIVE person since doing this!
I was lucky enough to work on an episode of the MGA Podcast with Veronica from Time Management Minimalist who really brought to my attention the link between anxiety and depression with cell phone and social media usage. Well, if you've followed along with the MGA Podcast you will know that I have really been working hard to tackle my anxiety. Knowing this, I really focused on putting down my phone. I was so thankful that Veronica pin pointed one of my time usage problem areas because it has been an incredible summer since this awareness came about!
Then to really put the heat on Veronica's family came to visit us from Montreal! Talk about wanting to impress the time management queen!
I wanted to maximize our visit and not spend half the time in the kitchen with food and beverage prep so I did a little meal planning - which by the way I had never really done before. I always thought it was a ton of work. But I thought I would give it a try if it meant better time management.
LO and BEHOLD! It worked out SO well that I can honestly say that I felt like we were fully engaged during our visit and meal prep never felt like it was taking away from friend time. I doubled up so that I had enough leftovers of certain things for lunches and I had pre-made side salads in the fridge ready to go before Veronica and her family even pulled in the driveway. It truly made our visit a breeze! Plus I was so happy when she opened my fridge and saw all of the prep I had done to make her family feel comfortable and at ease.
So, because I love you SOOO much and because I really believe that meal planning is now the way to go (I also have been saving way more on groceries because I know exactly what I need and I don't have to buy things that I **might** make - ya know what I mean???) I have created a 5 day meal plan with recipes (for the non-self explanatory stuff) just for YOU to try out!
There are vegan options and if you're vegetarian you can just omit the meat.
I hope this helps you save a little bit of time during your week so that you can get back to doing the things you love!
Check out the full episode about time management with Veronica here.
Also, if you try out any of the meals or try the planning, let me know how it went and comment below!
Have you ever bought a lottery ticket hoping that you would score big and get rich? I will confess that I have probably bought enough lottery tickets in my day that I could have gone on a nice overnight stay in a hotel somewhere with that money instead. I have since shifted my mindset around lottery tickets - especially since knowing the stats - by the way when you buy a ticket for 649 you have a 1 in 28.6 million chance in winning. So honestly - save your $6 bucks.
I recently went to an event called the Atelier where I heard a number of inspirational entrepreneurial women speak and one of those women happened to be Melissa Leong. Now Melissa is the financial adviser to The Social and has been featured on many media outlets and has written for the financial post. She had such great wisdom to share that I bought her book at the conference and even stood in line like a groupie to have her sign it!
As soon as I saw what she wrote in my book I was so excited to dig into the pages - she signed it "Make Life Rich!" And I just knew that somehow gratitude would be somewhere in her book. I was right. In it she says “Instead of comparing ourselves to others, we need to be grateful for what we have, focus on the opportunities ahead of us and turn off our phones and get a life outside the glow box.
When you are constantly moving through life jumping from task to task it makes it difficult to see the true wealth that you have accumulated throughout your life. Not to mention if you’re constantly distracted by what you see online and in social media - you start to get stuck in the comparison trap of keeping up with joneses. You could even fall into that feeling where what you have is never enough. And that is where I want to start.
If you want to get rich or feel more wealthy it’s just a matter of stopping to look around you at what you already have and how far you’ve already come.
Now yes you could take stock of all of the “things you have” but in Leong’s book Happy Go Money she doesn’t point us in that direction. In fact, she touts study after study that demonstrate that true happiness comes from social connections and community with others.
So, let’s start by looking at the rich connections that you have with others. Now again this doesn’t mean that you look to your instagram or facebook account to see how many friends and followers you have - in fact it may be just a handful of deep connections with people that truly get you or that you feel joyful to be around. It’s in those relationships and connections where we find happiness - not in how much stuff we have!
Another way to get rich with gratitude is to look at the experiences that you’ve had in your life - or even just today. For example, I am grateful that I have created self discipline for myself on Monday’s to work on the Podcast and to add to that I am so lucky that the Quinne’s grandma lives so close to us that she goes to her house on Monday’s while I work on the Podcast and she gets grandma time. It’s a win win experience that happens every week and while I could sluff it off as being just part of the norm, I’m choosing to see the deep value in this Monday experience for everyone involved.
But you can think of any experiences that you’ve had. It could be the time you travelled with friends or the time you went to that museum exhibit that you were so excited about. Studies show that when we take the time to recall the experiences that have brought us joy in the past that we can actually ignite those joyful brain centres again and again while reflecting upon them! It’s like watching a movie of your own happy life whenever you want to!
In Melissa’s book Happy Go Money she recommends spending money on the following things - experiences, and time savers.
I love these categories so much because they can both be linked to gratitude.
Being grateful in the moment of an experience is an incredible gift that you can give yourself - even if it’s a daily experience like Quinne going over to grandmas. But you can also look at big life time experiences that you’ve done or maybe even something that you’ve gotten through and be grateful that it helped shape the person that you are today.
Spending money on time savers is something that I am a huge fan of but that some people resist. For example spending money on house cleaners or landscapers is one way that some people save time. I personally am not good at organizing or cleaning and therefore I have no problem spending money on having people come and help me do this. One reason I like to do this is because it also holds me accountable in that I can’t let the house get out of control and have to stay on top of tidying for the cleaners to be as effective as we want them to be. Now some people might say “wow, isn’t that so nice maybe if I had more money” And I get it it seems like a luxury but I look at it in a few ways - one it allows me to spend more time being happy and content with my family. When the house is a disaster I am irratble and can’t focus - clutter does this to me. I feel better and I am better able to connect with my loved ones when the space is clutter free and clean. Two, the people I am paying are in it to make money and I love helping and supporting local businesses to make money. Honestly it’s a win win! The fact is we have to get over the notion that we have to do it all - instead let’s be grateful that there is someone who is really specifically talented in an area that you or I am not and that we can hire them to benefit everyone involved!
Look all I’m trying to say is that if you want to be rich the fact is that you probably already are - and it’s just a matter of taking a look at what you already have and where you’ve already come from.
May you always have the courage to be yourself - until next time.