When I was in 5th grade, I spent a week helping to run the Snack Shack, selling treats to students in an effort to raise money for the 5th grade dance.
At the time, my mom was really into health foods. While my classmates were chowing down on sugary snacks, I was munching on flax seed muffins and carrots with hummus. Remember, this was the 90’s and superfoods weren’t a thing yet.
So when it came time to sell a 3rd grader the very last Little Debbie Christmas tree cake, that I had my heart set on saving for myself, I panicked. “It’s poisoned!” I told her, as I reluctantly passed her the frosted treat.
After recess, I walked back into the classroom only to be escorted to the principals office to explain why I had told a 9-year-old that her cake was poisoned.
Through tears, I said “Because I really wanted it.”
This silly story illustrates how the survival brain, the part of the brain responsible for automatic thinking, really works.
The survival brain doesn’t think calmly and logically. It says whatever it needs to say to get what it wants. Even if it’s over the top, completely ridiculous or dramatic.
In your adult life, this might sound like:
-Everyone will hate me, or think I’m stupid.
-This will never work and I’ll fail.
-I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.
-This is all too much.
-I'll never be able to do this.
-This shouldn’t be happening to me.
-I have no choice.
Can you feel the urgency behind each of those thoughts? How they go overboard to keep you safe from embarrassment, failure, making mistakes, making decisions or trying something new?
That's just the 5th grader in your head, vying for instant gratification.