I was talking to some friends the other day and they were lamenting over their perceived weight gain.  They both said that they thought about missing the party that we were at because they felt fat.  I thought it so odd because they are both ten to fifteen years younger than I, and certainly thinner.  I told them they both looked great and they said that it really is about how you see yourself and it doesn’t matter how many people tell you otherwise.  I thought about that conversation the next day when I heard that dreadful news that a gunman had taken the lives of so many at that little Baptist church in Texas. 

I truly believe that learning to control our brain just like we control a muscle is how we change much of this negative behavior and negative thinking.  I am not referring to people with true mental illness because I, in no way, believe that controlling one’s brain where mental illness is involved is a one-and-done solution.  It can help, in addition to cognitive behavior therapy, and in many cases, medication.  But rather, I am referring to those of us that have mild PTSD, mild body dysmorphia, mild OCD, and many other psychological issues including overeating and insomnia.  I have all of the above.  Mild PTSD from a terrible employer that bullied me, sexually harassed me, as well as just plain traumatized me.  I have insomnia that started about that same time.  I have had body dysmorphia all of my life.  My OCD is a result of my need to control my surroundings.  I have spent many years trying to understand the person I see in the mirror as well as the love the way I was made.

I was told by a general practitioner perhaps one of the most important things anybody has ever told me.  He said that I must control my brain.  Until he said this, I never thought that was an option.  I have read that positive affirmations can change the trajectory of your thoughts but it never worked for me.  When this doctor said these words I realized that I get to choose what my brain does.  I can shut it down, I can let it dream endlessly, I can let it be still.  I can control my brain.  I now know that when we control our brain we can let go of labels like over-eater,  negative, insomniac, bitter, angry, and unhappy.  We use our brain to focus on only the things that we allow.  I have told my brain that we need to think like a supermodel therefore eating and carrying ourselves like one despite the fact that I am five foot three and half inches tall.  I am no longer letting my label of insomniac take hold.  I have changed that message in my brain to a person that sometimes gets less sleep than she would like.  I am also using my brain to let go of my failures.  I have had many, including failed relationships and job failures however, I am re-labeling these as lessons.   I cannot begin to explain the difference in my overall mental health.  Nobody wants to discuss mental health but it needs to be a question for each of us to ask ourselves.  How healthy is our mind and behaviors resulting from our mind?  This strategy can work for everybody.  It does not require special training in the brain or psychology.  What I know for sure is that I am much happier and much more relaxed in my own skin and I want this for all of the people in my life.  Begin to control what you allow your brain to focus on and how your perceive things and let me know how this works for you.


  • Jo Ann Burkhalter

    Writer and Sales Professional

    Alabama born and raised, educated with a MBA from Auburn University and passionate about all things southern. I have always enjoyed helping people and and especially animals.