Your Mind Is An Asshole: How Our Brains Can Betray Us, According To Psychology


Dealing with uncertainty, defining experiences and rolling with the punches is part of navigating our world and our mind. There are plenty of assholes in the world. The last thing we need is for our mind to flat out betray us. We are convinced our mind works. We’re breathing, our heart is beating, and we are using our sense of taste, touch, sight, sound, and smell, daily. So, we’ve established we’re not robots. But from time to time even the best of us (most dedicated, educated, disciplined, controlling etc.) will get fucked over by our mind.

The thing is, the mind doesn’t always make the right call. Chemically things automatically fire that are beyond our control. From motion induced blindness to aphasia and logically accepting your future self as completely different than your present self. Why do we even care about what our brain does? That’s some other asshole’s problem, right? And screw that guy anyway.

Well, there’s something liberating about knowing a little about the unknown. And our mind and its equivalent factories and assembly lines of synapses and neurons, that give rise to our sense of self, is one hell of a puzzle. These pieces are part of why your mind can be a psychological torture chamber. Ruminating, negative talk, self-doubt, self-sabotage, depression, chemical withdrawals from abusive situations, contradictions…. you name it. In short, an asshole. But that doesn’t mean that’s what defines us or that we are assholes. Understand more and return to your story stronger. Both physically and mentally. Ruminate on these four things that make your mind an ass.

It Chemically Bonds Us To Abuse and Trauma.

Sometimes we need to be able to tolerate the messiness of our feelings (especially in trauma) and not try to fix or repress them. Continuous stressors and the effects on our brain create a chemical attachment that is hard to break. Most affected include the hippocampus, amygdala, and medial prefrontal cortex. Cortisol and norepinephrine are two neurochemicals that blast our brains during stress. The bigger the stressor the bigger the blast.

Likewise, during trauma bonds or break up’s our brain’s release dopamine. The same neurochemical involved in drug addiction. The mind has a reward – motivation cycle provoked by dopamine. The effect? Just like drug withdrawals, it can create obsessive thinking, cravings for an ex, and other negative triggers. Unhealthy people feed off these chemical bonds and have them, themselves.

Healing a broken heart or removing yourself from physical or mental abuse is work. Don’t let your asshole mind play tricks on you. The past is funny; you can use it as a powerful teacher or a crutch. How you got here is relevant, but it’s only one part of the story.

It Plays in the Phenomenon of Cognitive Dissonance – Endangering Our Ethical Standards.

Research reveals three key brain chemicals affect how we handle uncertainty. Noradrenaline regulates our estimate of how unstable the environment is, acetylcholine helps us adapt to changing environments, and dopamine pushes us to act on our beliefs about uncertainty. Cognitive dissonance comes from a conflict between beliefs. When you two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas or values. There’s a discomfort in not knowing, it’s human nature.

Correlating between two opposing thoughts can be as benign as continuing to smoke when you know its health effects to psychosis and hallucinations. Humans tend to want to explain how the world works (err-hmm this is an example) and we can see ourselves through the eyes of an empathetic adult or a vulnerable little person from our childhood. Society tells us how we should behave. Our minds sometimes contradict how we can behave and dissonance can make us very uncomfortable.

When your life is stretching out in front of you in a blur, don’t act on your uncertainty. Dissonance is usually handled by analyzing your present state or changing beliefs, not simply rationalizing. Soon dealing with uncertainty will be second nature and changing that mind-fuck will be a confidence booster.

It Feeds Us Vivid Failure Scenarios Not Vivid Success Scenarios – Re-train That Shit.

Modern life may demand you have a presentation ready and on point, be ready for that big interview, take care of a family or aging parent, or prepare for your first TEDTalk (Yas!) People are more afraid of public speaking than death! WTF?

The chemical fight or flight response launches all kinds of chemicals into our body. Though it technically comes from our sympathetic nervous system, our minds are left to determine what we should do and how we should behave with this flood of “emotions.”

Changing the mental mind game of failure scenarios takes several steps. First, what exactly is your brain scaring you about? Next, vividly imagine what you want the alternative to be. Three, repeat it over and over, especially when you find yourself in a negative state. Determine what you want your brain food to be. We must literally retrain ourselves mentally and chemically to shift that asshole mindset. Why is it so difficult? Because fighting evolution and the unconscious mind are tough battles.

It May Fill in Memories with Perceptions, Not Facts.

We can’t even remember when we are babies. Infant amnesia is a thing. With much of our mind operating on an unconscious level, can we even trust that our earliest memories are real? Now come to the present. How much of your memory is true?

According to Discover Magazine, there is a complex dance of chemical choreography of electrical reactors to reach the amygdala and hippocampus. Our memory centers. We have a lifetime of memories built up in us and some of those carry falsities. Don’t worry, this is common for everyone. While we may not all look the same, our basic chemistry is. False memories can range from a misidentified person in a crime, to your favorite high school party that everyone talks about, so you remember being there, though you were really at home sick

We edit memories that are harmful to us, we can be coerced to remember things that didn’t happen, as is the case with many hypnosis lawsuits, and we have unreliable memories more often than we think. At times, we just need to ask a long-time friend or family member to confirm some facts, to see what your shared “memories” have in common. Though theirs may not be perfect as well.

Studies have been shown that you can tweak, edit, and slice all kinds of memories with common prescription drugs like propranolol, a blood pressure medicine, that reduces the processing of emotions in the amygdala. It works with PTSD. Bringing back better memory seems even harder. While there are promises of nootropics, caffeine boosts, and natural antioxidants, there has not been a real “cure” for better memory.

Totally depressive? No, focus and self-awareness do help. Some say happiness is good health and a bad memory. You decide.

We all have internal struggles. At times, all the things we are expected to take care of in life seem near impossible, and we’d do anything just to catch a break. The last thing we need is thinking our asshole mind defines who we are. Knowing the possibilities is emotional ammunition to prepare yourself and become who you are meant to be. Your brains chemical structure does not mean you’re an asshole. Sometimes we just have to recognize we have something to work through.