When faced with decisions, our brains automatically point out all the things we don’t know, all the reasons it won’t work, and why we should be afraid. In this podcast, you’ll learn why starting with what you know will help you solve what you don’t.
For as long as humans have existed, our primal response to any kind of threat or danger is to get defensive, confused, and go looking for safety outside ourselves. Although this has kept us alive, it is outdated and does not ultimately help us create the kind of life we want on purpose.
In this episode, you’ll learn in more depth why your brain automatically takes you to negative thinking, and how to override it with thoughts and beliefs that help you move forward. Remembering what you know first helps bring the brain back to a grounded, calm place, and can serve as a filter for all of the fears and doubts that follow.
I’m Andrea Giles, and you’re listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast
episode number 26, Anchoring to What You Know.
Hello and welcome to the Heal from Infidelity podcast, where courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouse’s betrayal, but to become
the boldest, truest, most decisive, and confident versions of themselves
ever. If you know there’s more for you than the life you are currently
living, but don’t quite know how to get there, you are in the right place.
Stick around to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks
off. Is it possible? It is, and I’m here to show you how. I’m your host,
Andrea Giles. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Hey, everybody. I hope you’re doing well. Today, it’s a beautiful sunny day
in Montana, even though it’s like 10 degrees outside. So before I dive into
this week’s content, I just want to tell you a little bit about my past
week. I had a mind-blowing past week. So I took the week off of coaching
and I flew to California to Santa Barbara, California by myself, rented an
Airbnb, and attended a three-day virtual workshop all about business and
coaching and really stepping in more fully into who I am as a coach and
what kind of practice I want to build, and all of those really important
things to consider as I continue growing. It blew my mind how different I
am, how different my life is from not very long ago.
There are so many moments during that training that I had to just pinch
myself. I can’t believe that this is my life. If you would’ve told me not
many years ago, when my life felt like it was falling apart, that I would
be able to be where I am now and coaching all day and teaching and leading,
I would not have believed you, yet here I am. And I want you to hear this,
that there is so much goodness in front of you. There is so much good in
front of you. Wherever you are, whatever you’re facing right now is not the
end. It is not the end. In fact, it might just be the springing off point
for the best life possible. I believe that to my bones because I’m living
Okay, so now onto the content, Anchoring to What You Know. I want to tell
you a little story that I heard years and years ago that has stuck with me
throughout my life. As a young girl, when I was like 12, young woman, I
would go to camp every summer. One year at camp, there was one of the
leaders that got up and talked about a time where she was driving and she
got really, really lost. She finally got to the point where she pulled
over. She was so lost and scared and confused, and didn’t know where she
This was back in the day where we didn’t have phones, we didn’t have GPS.
She was just lost. As she sat there, pondering, what do I do? The words
came to her to go back to what you know. Go back to what you know. And so
she used that to retrace all the different places. Like, this is where I
started, this is where I went next, this is where I went next, and just
pausing and stopping the confusion of what she didn’t know and going back
to what she did know. Cleared it up for her, and she was able to find her
way back to where she started and go from there.
Now, as you know, I’m all about understanding the mind, understanding the
brain, and what happens when we are faced with different decisions or any
number of things throughout our days as our brains always want to freak out
about the things that we don’t know, our brains love certainty they want to
know. And so if there’s something that we don’t know, our brain will freak
out and point out all the things that you don’t know and try to keep you
confused, try to keep you stuck because moving forward feels threatening to
our brain. Moving forward means making a decision, taking action, moving
forward, changing something, rocking the boat. And our brain’s really like
Our brains just want to know like, this is what’s going to happen today,
and this is what’s going to happen tomorrow. Our brains are very boring and
predictable, or they want to be. Our brains want to be boring and
predictable. So when things come up that present a challenge or a question,
our brain automatically goes to, “Oh no, what about this? What about this?
This might happen. This might happen. Are you sure you want to do that?”
And it can offer us so much confusion to where we’re just spinning out in
indecision. Anybody understand that? I know I can raise my hand and say,
“Yes, I get that.”
So I want to talk today about the power in going back to what you do know.
First of all, when there’s a problem that’s presented, you see this
problem. And if you direct your brain, what do we know? What information do
we have? It can automatically plant your feet back under you and help you
feel more grounded. “Okay, I do know this. I do know this. I know this.”
Okay? And you’re giving your brain data. You can then address the things
that you don’t know, but by starting with what you do, you’re getting
yourself into a more calm, responsive place where you’re feeling open.
You’re not as closed down or needing that certainty that it’s just, you got
to do it this way or this bad thing is going to happen. It takes away the
urgency to need to know exactly what’s going to happen.
As I’ve been preparing for this podcast, I have thought of a few different
examples to use some from my own life and some from other people, kind of
general concepts. Many times, I would say probably most of the time, when
we’re faced with a really big decision, we want to look outside our own
brain. We want to look for certainty. We look for people who have done it.
We look for people who we can be mentors, who can be guides. We want to
know that it’s going to be okay. We want somebody to say, “Hey, I’ve done
it. I’ve been there, and it’s fine. It’s going to go this way.” But here’s
the thing. When it comes down to it, down to that final like, taking that
step forward or taking that jump or whatever it is. It is us that has to
dig deep and make that decision to move forward despite sometimes major
And as I have looked back over my own life, when I look at some really
pivotal times, which I’ve shared some of this on this podcast, but when I
look at really pivotal times where it felt like everything was on the line,
I could consider other people’s opinions. And I often did and I often
pulled myself away from my own opinion, because I thought that other people
knew better than me. But when it came down to it, when it really came to
making the decisions and moving forward, I did it because inside of me, I
went back to the things that I knew, the things that I knew to be real,
knew to be true, knew were accurate to me.
I think of like a marathon runner. A marathon runner can have the best
support. They can have the loudest cheerleaders along the sides. They can
have the best coaches to get them in prime shape. They can have the best
nutrition, so they have a prime body, all the things. But in the end, when
that marathon runner is running that race, especially when it gets really
hard, there’s not a single soul that can get them across that finish line,
but them. They have to dig and find the courage and find the strength to do
this painful thing and keep going and cross that finish line. There’s
something in them. It is not external, it’s internal. There’s something
inside of them that makes the pain worth it. That makes them go, “I’m all
in. I’m going to keep going.” It’s because they have that answer inside of
I’m going to share with you two different examples for my life. I’ve
touched on both of them before, but I’m going to give a little more detail
here about two decisions that I made that had very big impact on my life
and the life of other people, and kind of where I was at in the decision
making process and where I got to be, where I needed to be when I finally
made the decision. First was deciding to stay married or not. It was
grueling. I was in a lot of pain. I was suffering a lot. I was worried
about my kids. I was worried about the long term impact. I was worried
about getting it right. So much pressure to get it right. I did not want to
hurt him. I did not want to go down the road of having a separated family.
You know, Having divorced parents, and being divorced myself. I had so much
drama about it. I was terrified. So much fear, so much doubt.
And I had people all over the place telling me their thoughts about it,
telling me what they thought, and that it was on both sides. “You should
definitely end the marriage.” And then I had some saying, “No, you
definitely should not.” I felt so confused. And often when I felt confused,
I would go ask a trusted person, “Well, what about this? Well, what about
this?” And looking externally for wisdom and for answers. And guess what,
my friends? That only go so far. It can be so helpful. Different
perspectives can be so helpful. But ultimately, it comes down to you. What
I wish that I would’ve known then that I know so much more powerfully now
is that I always knew the answer. It was always there. I always knew.
I prolonged my pain, probably even the pain of the people around me because
I hung out in indecision. I felt so nervous. And so I would look outside of
me, round and round I went, and then get different opinions and then come
back and reevaluate and reassess. I would tell myself, I already knew, like
I already had the answer. And what actually got me on the other side to
where I did end a marriage and really truly moved forward from it was going
back to what I knew. It was digging deep and asking myself the questions,
asking myself what I wanted, asking myself what I truly thought was the
best decision for myself and everyone involved. And I always had the answer
there. Of course, if you’ve listened to this for a while, you know that I’m
religious and I would always go in prayer. But even still, I feel like I
was given confirmations of what I already knew. Things that I already knew
for my own smart, wise brain. I already knew the answer. You do too. It’s
in you. It is not outside of you.
Next situation. I was trying to decide if I was going to marry my current
husband. A little backstory. I’ve talked about this a little bit, but our
dating was not smooth sailing. It was not easy. We both had a lot to work
with. I had been divorced already, but my first husband was still alive.
And so it was while we were fairly newly dating when my first husband died.
And you can imagine, that threw me for a whole new loop of a lot more
things to work through, a lot more things for my kids to work through. It
was really a tough time. He thought that he was more prepared to move
forward than he actually was. And so we would get warmer and then he would
pull back, or I would pull back. And there were times where I’m like, “I
don’t know if we’re going to make it. I don’t know.”
Well, fast forward a couple years and we had kind of stopped talking as
much because I felt like I needed a little space from it all. He came to me
and he proposed. He flew to where I was. He proposed and he told me that he
was ready to go all in, that he was ready and would I go with him and could
I marry him? In that moment, I felt peaceful, I felt comfortable, I felt
like, “Okay, it’s time.” And he left to go back to Montana and my brain
completely freaked out, completely freaked out. It was like, “Wait, wait,
wait, what if he says he’s ready and he’s not actually ready? What if I
think I’m ready and I’m not actually ready?”
And you know what? In reality, I knew that it was going to be hard. I knew
that it would be probably easier or not to. It meant picking up my kids and
moving. It meant taking on five more kids and moving to a really tiny
community, really tiny community. And some things there that I knew would
be hard for me. It meant saying yes to all of those things. I kind of
freaked out and I wasn’t sure. I went round and round in my mind of what I
wanted and is this really what I want? Is this really the best thing? Is
this right? I was so scared to make the wrong decision.
Once again, I remember a moment where I was just sitting with myself and
asking myself what I knew. What do I know? What is true here? I remember
very clearly the words you already know the answer, it’s okay. And I did
know. It was okay. Even though we sometimes think that saying yes to things
means that it’s going to be not super hard, it’s going to go well, it’s
going to be smooth, no. I was saying yes to something that I knew was going
to be hard. I knew it. I knew that it would require massive growth on my
part, but I had the answer inside of me that it was okay, that it was good,
move forward. And so I did, and I did move to Montana. Picked up my kids
and we moved and guess what? It was hard. There were some hard things that
happened. It wasn’t easy.
There are still hard things that happened, but the point is not to avoid
hard. The point is to live on purpose with your eyes wide open, knowing
what’s going to be hard and learning how to manage your mind there, instead
of living at the effect of everything around you. It’s choosing
Okay, so what do you know? How do you even access what you know? I’m going
to give you some ideas about this. One way to find what you know is to go
to what your values are. What are your values? The core values that you
have probably lived your whole life by. When is the last time you checked
in with yourself about what your values are? One of the reasons why I find
values really valuable is because when we are spinning out in confusion,
and is this the right thing? And what should I be doing? Knowing what our
values are, those can be like a pre-filtering. You can run whatever it is
through that filter and it can kind of pre-screen what you say yes and what
you say no to.
So I’m currently working with a client who we’ve discovered through
one-on-one coaching with her, that her three main values are collaboration,
connection, and purpose. And so in the past, she can find patterns of where
when she stepped out of that. When she said yes to things that did not line
up with those values, the outcome was not great for her. And so now moving
forward, she uses that as a filter to what she says yes to. So if she is
being asked to do something that takes her away from connection or
collaboration, she says, “No, that is not what I want.” And she doesn’t
really have to think that much about it because she already has that
protective filter in place of checking with her values. Along with values
is thinking about what your priorities are. What are my priorities? Does
this line up? Sometimes it can be an easy yes, sometimes it can be an easy
So knowing what your values are, having a pretty good idea of what your
values are and what your priorities are will help you to know what you’re
willing to say yes to and no to. You can trust those values. You can rely
on them. They can be like a trusted friend. Now, how do you find out what
your values are? Go back in your life and find times where you did
something that felt scary. Why did you do it? When it would’ve been easier
to turn and run and say no, why did you step forward? Why did you say yes?
Why did you do it? It’s probably tied to your values. There’s an answer in
there. Why did you say yes? Who you wanted to be in that moment is what
your value is, one of your values.
For this particular client of mine, she said yes to writing a book, even
though it was scary and hard because it felt intentional, like she had
purpose. It was serving a purpose. She was doing something that made her
feel like she had purpose. So she did this scary thing. Go back, look at
the clues, gather clues from your life. Those things will serve you really
well and what you’re willing to say yes and no to as you make big decisions
in your marriage, as you make big decisions in relationships in general.
What am I willing to say yes to? What am I willing to say no to?
Another thing to do to kind of find what you already know is getting a pen
and paper, putting at the top of your paper a question that you want
answered that your brain is spinning out about, and then begin with, what
do I already know? Get it out of your brain and onto paper. What else do I
know? Ask good questions. Ask yourself good questions, “What else do I
know? And what else? And how do I know that? How do I know that?” Keep
going, keep digging. You’re like mining for your own wisdom. Do this first
before you spell out all the reasons why it’s not going to work, all the
reasons why it’s a terrible idea. Starting with what you know first will
give you certainty and your feet under you before you hear the objections.
It’s like setting the stage for you.
So if you think about a toddler and an adult, a toddler is kind of like the
voice in your head that’s telling you all the things that you don’t know.
Maybe it’s a teenager. I don’t know. Toddler or teenager, depends on the
day. That toddler’s going to whine and cry and tell you all the things that
are wrong and that they’re hungry and thirsty and don’t want to go to bed,
and how long till we get there, all the things. The toddler’s going to be
making noise and yanking at you. Where the adult brain comes in is giving
certainty to the toddler, that the adult in the room is in command, the
adult is in charge. Even if the adult doesn’t have all the answers, the
adult can still give certainty to the toddler by telling them what you do
know. “I don’t know what time we’re going to get there, but I know that
when we get there, we’re going to go eat here.” That’s just a random idea.
Like, it’s just giving peace even around the uncertainty, sharing what you
do know. “This is what I do know. I know that we’re going to be okay. I
know that I can be safe. I know that I can handle my own emotions. I know
that things always tend to work out.” What else do you know? What else is
your adult brain trying to tell you? What wisdom does your adult brain
have? That is your prefrontal cortex, the highest part of your brain that
already has the answer. The toddler can get very, very loud because it
feels threatened. The toddler feels threatened. Like, I got to know right
now, so I know that I can be safe. Our brains want certainty. A lack of
certainty feels scary and threatening.
I challenge you to sit next to that toddler brain. You’re not making it
wrong for being there. In fact, you can thank it. Like, “Thank you for
trying to keep me safe here.” You’re not judging it for being there. You’re
just just saying, “Hey, I see you, I hear you. This is what’s real. This is
what’s true. This is what we’re doing. This is what we can count on. This
is what’s happening.” I promise you, it will quiet that toddler. That
toddler will feel safe to quiet down.
Wrapping this up, I want to tell you that whatever question you are
grappling with right now, whatever you’re wanting to know, you already have
the answer. You really do. You already have the answer. You can take action
on that answer, you can move forward. You can always change your mind. You
can always move forward, collect new data, and take it back and reevaluate.
But spinning and indecision, spinning in uncertainty will get you nowhere.
Go back to what you know. Going back to what you know is the quickest way
to actually move forward. It might seem counterproductive. It’s not. It’ll
help you move faster.
One of the leaders in my church, Dieter Uchtdorf says, “Doubt your doubts
before you doubt your faith.” I want to add my own reiteration of that.
Doubt what you don’t know before you doubt what you do. Doubt what you
don’t know before you doubt what you do. Give yourself the benefit of the
doubt first. Own your own wisdom, your own knowledge, the things that you
know. I promise it’s there. Stop looking outside of you, take a breath,
look inside. You can always ask for advice, you can always ask for people’s
opinions, but in the end, you’ll get the final word, the final say. The
more that you know and know that you know, the more courage and strength
you’ll have to move forward because it’s coming from inside of you. It’s
not coming from this external place. That’s what I got for you today, my
friends. I hope that you have a wonderful week. I’ll be back next week.
Thank you for listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast. If you would
like to be kept in the know about upcoming free classes, new podcast
episodes, and other ways of working with me, go subscribe to my weekly
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it’s andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. I will see you next time.