Last week, I read the following words:
‘The average person somehow manages to watch 28 hours of tv a week, yet ask them if they have time to study philosophy and they will probably tell you that they’re too busy.’
Funnily enough, an hour before I read this in bed, I had been chatting to a friend on the phone with regards to how I may have burnt my brain out by studying too much philosophy. You see, I am super curious and life is mysterious. I’m interested in helping people and exploring what contributes to our emotional fitness and psychological strength. After researching for 6 years, patterns become obvious. Yet, on reflection, did my brain feel like it could explode, much like a stomach full of food? It doesn’t matter if your stomach is full of the most incredible organic vegetables, too much is still dangerous. In 2019 I think I read or listened to about 90 books. On top of this, I had interviewed over 100 people with regards to growth and mental wellbeing. That is a lot to take in. A lot of my findings were fairly deep too for example:
- Pain from childhood trauma can return when a person has children and they reach the same age as they were when they experienced the trauma.
- People can mirror those close to them and take on the pain as if it were their own. This can become destructive.
- People can suppress pain through the b word – no not brexit. Busy, busy, busy busy. We need to get still every day. Sleeping doesn’t count.
- Often people who feel the need to be in control are craving and trying to create a feeling of safety.
- Embracing our darkness is important to develop as humans.
- Anxiety can hit us hard when we are living a life separated from who we really are. Many humans are running off old programmes that are not even theirs.
- Giving all of our energy to others will eventually lead to illness – mental or physical. Healthy boundaries are essential.
- Shame is real and for many it is addictive. Shame is very bad for our brain.
That type of stuff, pretty intense. It can be a lot to take on and as an empath, I really felt a lot of the stories.
I wasn’t just reading, I was doing the practical work. Meditation brought so much up for me. Courses that I took had a big impact. As I wrote in my first book, growth can be dark and scary and challenging. I think if the study involves a form of personal development, then it can become too much. We need to find balance and stay grounded in our bodies, as well as enjoying being connected to new, exciting ways of living.
Whilst study and growth can be super positive, it is important to be aware of some of the consequences. When we are going through a period of growth it can be very easy to do the following:
- Lash out at others.
- Put the blame onto others.
- Analyse everything.
- Spread the pain and confusion.
Instead, it is healthier for us to:
- Practise gratitude in terms of what the growth period has taught us.
- Look for the positives from the growth, laugh and smile about the progress.
- Warn those closest to us that we are going through a growth period and apologise for any negative behaviours such as feeling grumpy and snappy.
- Stay humble and don’t compare.
Our pain body will be crying out for us to act out the less healthier group A above. They key is to follow group B, but with a burnt out brain that can be impossible.
You may be super inquisitive like myself. A passion to study and learn can be a positive thing. But as someone who has experienced a full on, terrifying mental breakdown, let me throw some caution to the wind (small print – I think there were other factors that contributed to my illness too, but being in overdrive was most certainly a part).
- Set healthy boundaries so that you can enjoy your passions without frying your brain. Our brain needs time to relax, this is so important. Dopamine is a very addictive hormone, we get a surge of it when we are learning. It is all too easy to go into dopamine overdrive, so embrace lots of activities that give you oxytocin. Some examples – hugging, yoga, sex, chilling to music, mindful cooking, massages, time with friends.
- Dopamine is associated with wakefulness. When we have high levels, it can have a negative impact on our sleep. I have been there when I was up, buzzing through the night. It literally drove me crazy. Protect your sleep. Get professional advice, don’t leave it too long. Your sleep is sacred.
- Be kind to yourself. What advice would you give to a friend who was running at full capacity? It’s cool to slow down and just be. To turn down the analyser and get present. I take you through a quick mediation to turn the analyser down during epiosde 101 of my podcast here.
- If you ever find your mind racing or you notice that you are dreaming about work in your sleep, then think to yourself ALARM BELLS. Take action. Protect your brain.
It’s great to study but too much can be toxic. Find the balance that works for you. You got this.
Jojo Fraser is an award winning author, coach, podcaster and motivational speaker. She has been a mental health researcher for the past 6 years and helps to empower, motivate and uplift the leaders she works with. She is known for her straight talking and bold approach. Her mission is simple – to normalise what many see as ‘the hard’ conversations and in breaking the stigma, save many lives. She will be giving her first TEDx talk this month.