So before we get started, can I just say that I was completely prepared for “frenemies” to be autocorrected by my Mac to “fiendish” or “friendless” or something even less related.
Turns out “frenemy” IS a real real word.
And it’s such a good word too.
Over the years, I have a had a number of frenemies, but my oldest frenemy is without question my own brain.
Though in general I CAN count on my brain to have a lot of my best interests at heart, including breathing, and keeping my organs functioning at night, and coordinating the successful healthy gestation of my three kids,
I can ALSO count on her to say some of the vilest, most unhelpful and soul-destroying words you could even imagine.
Let’s not even get started on what my brain says about my hair.
Frenemy that she is, my brain is generally making a pretty compelling case for why I shouldn’t do… well anything.
So I get an idea for a new blog post and my brain says…..
“Ohhhhh…. No. People will HATE that. That is, if they even read it.”
Or I decide I’m going to start developing a Podcast for Vedge Your Best, my coaching program for people struggling with reducing or eliminating animal products, and my brain interrupts with,
“You? Podcast? I mean it’s not as bad an idea as going on camera, but still, we’ll probably die. Best case scenario.”
So that’s my oldest Frenemy, my Brain. And that’s what I have learned to say to her after decades of her trying to talk me out of leaving the house, or trying on a bathing suit, or going to grad school, or doing a pushup.
My brain, part of which is over 30,000 years old, makes very little distinction between me getting on the treadmill for exercise and leaving the cave where I am potential wolf food.
Part of your brain is similarly prehistoric and evolved to keep our species alive just long enough to reproduce and start the whole messy process over again.
But I – AND you – have also got a “higher brain” or pre-frontal cortex – that is the part of the brain we have evolved that handles what is called “executive” processing.
So we also have the ability, which distinguishes us from other mammals, of metacognition. We humans can be aware of our thoughts. We can think about the process of our thinking.
And that’s the part of my brain, that reminds me to say, “Thanks, Brain,” to my Frenemy.
If you are struggling with any challenging new undertaking, I would venture to guess that you have a Frenemy who is weighing in with some unsolicited advice and some choice words about your self-worth.
And the best news I have for you, is that when your Brain says something cruel, disheartening and vicious about your new plan – doesn’t matter what it is – it’s nothing personal. It’s just how they are – brains.
Our brains evolved to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and conserve as much energy in the process as possible – voila the Motivational Triad.
So, if we have decided to reduce or eliminate the consumption of animal products, we shouldn’t be surprised if our brains bring the whole endeavor to a screeching halt.
Because, in our day? Here in the middle America I live in, even in the midst of a pandemic, a food like ice cream, from the point of view of the Motivational Triad is a Trifecta. It wins Bronze, Silver and Gold.
Ice Cream delivers pleasure, it can help us avoid painful feelings (at least for a bit) and it is pretty darn easy to come by.
Most of the animal products we are used to eating are not only easy to find, but we have spent a lifetime finding them pleasurable. Animal products are typically anchored around our warmest celebratory emotions like parties and holidays and family members, friends and loved ones.
And, we are used to turning to them when we are having uncomfortable emotions. When we are sad, or bored, lonely or anxious.
So again, the eating of meat, eggs and dairy for most of us is completely reinforced by the most primal of our brain’s operating systems, the same Motivational Triad.
So, your pre-Frontal cortex has been studying
carbon emissions from animal agriculture,
OR the effect of animal fats on cholesterol and blood pressure
OR the conditions at feedlots where animals are concentrated before slaughter.
And your Pre-Frontal Cortex says, “You know what?
Maybe I don’t want to be eating so many animal products.”
Some of us will just, overnight stop. No big deal. No drama.
But a lot of us – most of us – will get a bunch of pushback from that Frenemy of ours.
“No meat, eggs or dairy? I suppose you know that means we are going to starve to death, friendless under a bridge somewhere.”
So now you know, what to say,
Your reasons for adopting a Vegetarian, Vegan or Whole Food Plant Based diet are yours and yours alone, and if you find yourself struggling with the process the number one reason is the pushback you get from your oldest Frenemy.
Your Frenemy might tell you that
you are a hypocrite because you still have wool sweaters,
and that your family thinks you’re crazy,
and it will be impossible to travel
and that your friends don’t like being with you anymore,
and that you are likely to die, broke and hungry.
I remember you said almost the same thing when I went to grad school, except the part about the sweaters.
If you are struggling with reducing or eliminating animal products, you probably don’t need more
meal plans, recipes or vegan Instagram “influencers” to follow.
Coaching is the best way I know of to notice how YOUR Frenemy Brain is sabotaging your HIgher Brain’s choices and decisions just because she’s panicking a little.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time to talk about how you can ignore what your prehistoric Frenemy brain has been muttering and notice that she’s just a little out of date and uninformed about your life here in the 21st century.