When life as we know it is turned upside down, it becomes very easy to believe we are alone, powerless, and a victim to what has been handed us. While we have been the victim of the deception of another, we tend to forget that in all things, no matter what, we still have choices.
In this episode I will share through powerful analogies how we can use our own strength and wisdom to harness the power of the brain. When we learn how to manage our own brain, we take control back in our lives and intentionally create the life we want.
Knowing what our choices are and that we can powerfully own the choices we make is key to healing and moving forward from infidelity. Ultimately our choices are what set us free. Listen to understand how this is true, and what choices you can make for yourself today.
I am Andrea Giles and you’re listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast,
episode number 63, Choices.
Hello, and welcome to the Heal from Infidelity podcast where courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouses 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’re 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.
Hi everybody, I hope you’re doing well. I just slipped away into my office.
It’s the evening time, and I’ve been coaching clients today, and wanted to
get this podcast recorded, did some coaching, and then I went and helped my
12 year old twins. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned I have twins, I have 12
year old twin daughters, identical twin girls. And they have been in a
cooking class for the past month or so where they have a class every
Tuesday evening. It’s through Zoom, live with an instructor, super fun. But
I end up helping quite a bit, so I just helped them. And now here I am back
here to record this podcast for you, okay?
So I hope that you are doing well. I hope the podcast continues to help you
for those that are new around here, thank you for being here and welcome. I
love hearing from you. Thank you for those of you who have reached out.
Thank you for those of you who have left me reviews, just sending you so
much gratitude and love. So today we’re going to talk about choices, okay?
So when we go through infidelity, it can send us into crisis mode really
quick. We can go from a zero to a 10, especially when we had no clue that
it was happening, no clue. We often feel victimized, hurt, and deeply
betrayed. And we often feel very stuck, like the life we thought we had was
just pulled out right from under us and we have no choices.
In this episode I am going to talk about the choices you still have. What I
have learned is that sometimes our minds need to just feel intense emotion
to process what is happening, but there comes a time when we have replayed
the stories again, and again, continued to feel the hurt again and again,
and felt the betrayal again and again, by the thoughts that we continue to
have, the images our minds presents to us, and we end up feeling freshly
betrayed as if it’s brand new. It’s like we continue to punch ourselves in
the face over and over with fresh pain.
Today, I want to teach you about what to do when you notice your brain
going down paths that lead to pain. I’ll be using some analogies today,
some analogies to teach this. And by the end, you should have a pretty good
understanding of how to tell the difference between staying with your
current thoughts and feelings, or using tools to change the course of your
thoughts and feelings, okay? So first of all, I’m going to talk to you
about your brain, okay? Your brain is the greatest asset you have. It is
only yours, it is worth more than computer, any software, anything that
exists, it’s more powerful than anything that exists.
Our brains have the ability to be elastic. We can change our thinking. We
have the ability to learn, to expand, to change the way that we identify
with the world. With our brain. I personally have invested literally
thousands and thousands of dollars into my brain because I know that my
brain will yield the greatest return on investment. So rather than taking
money that I have and investing it say, in some stock options or things
like that, I have found that the yield is much greater when I invest in the
skillset that I need to learn to grow my brain, grow my capacity, to make
money myself, to create results, any result that I want. And to be fair, I
actually do have some regular old investments, like stocks and things, but
I have invested thousands and thousands of dollars into growing my brain,
growing my coaching ability, growing my understanding of infidelity. I
could go on and on about all the things that I have invested in because I
trust that me serving my brain in that way is my best bet, okay?
So today I’m going to teach you some things about your brain and how to
invest in your brain. Okay, you’ve heard me say before that we have a
higher brain and a lower brain, but today I’m going to use and an analogy
or two to really explain this deeply, okay? So someone named Dan Siegel
used an analogy that I find really compelling that I want to share here,
okay? He has a great way of explaining the various functions of the brain
in a way that make sense, that is easy to understand. And then as I do, I
will be elaborating on it because that’s what I do, right? So I’m using
some of the basic analogy that he shared, and then I will be expanding on
So here we go, okay? Our brain is like a house, we have a downstairs and we
have an upstairs, okay? The downstairs is the part of the brain that when
we are born, it is already completely developed, if all goes well. Like, if
you’re a healthy baby, that part of your brain is well developed. So the
basement of this house often referred to as the reptilian, or primitive
brain contains the brain stem, the limbic region and the amygdala, I always
have a hard to him saying that word, I hope I got it right. This part of
the brain is responsible for basic human functioning, like basic, got to
stay alive, breathing, blinking, heart beating, flinching, digestion, all
of those things. So this little baby that’s coming to me pretty soon, it is
going to be this part of the brain that when she is born will instruct her
to take a breath, that will instruct her to cry when she’s hungry, keep her
heart beating, to digest the food that she eats, things like that, okay?
This part of the brain is also responsible for our innate responses, which
are to fight, flight, or freeze, right? This is the part of the brain that
keeps us safe in that way. This part of the brain produces really strong
emotions like anger and fear. Now, if you’re thinking about a house, this
part of the brain would look really boring, okay? There’s not a light, it’s
a little dingy, it’s where the necessities of the house are. Okay, so
you’re going to have a bathroom, maybe a dark dingy one, you’re going to
have maybe a place to cook and prepare some food, you might have a place to
do some laundry, a place to eat, things like that. But that’s about it. And
it’s going to be kind of dark, nothing fancy, not a lot of light, okay?
Okay, let me move on to the upstairs brain. And then I’m going to come back
to this, okay?
The upstairs brain is much more sophisticated than the downstairs brain.
This is made of the cerebral cortex and all of its parts, including the
prefrontal cortex, which you’ve probably heard me say before, which is
located behind the forehead. This part of the brain is responsible for the
higher order thinking and planning that we do, it is responsible for
imagination, dreaming, analyzing problem, solving decision making. The
upstairs provides a bigger perspective of the world, this is where the
windows are, okay? This is where we emotionally regulate to have control
over the body. When this part of our brain is working well, we are able to
understand ourselves, we’re able to live with awareness. We’re able to feel
empathy and understanding. This is where our values live. This is where we
understand consequences and think before we act.
This part of our brain is not fully developed until we are in our mid-20s.
Does that explain anything to you about some of the things that kids do? It
does to me, right? And even as grown adults where this part is fully
developed, it’s still a choice to hang out in this part of the brain, and
I’m going to dive a lot into that, okay? So when we are hanging out in the
upstairs brain, it might be light filled, it might be more airy, it might
have some skylights, we can see the world more clearly, we have a bigger
view. There might be a nice office up here, a nice library filled with
beautiful books, might be a really beautiful bedroom that we love being in,
okay? It’s this place that feels a little more clear, we might feel
uncomfortable there sometimes, but we also have clarity. We have
understanding, we see things a lot differently from up there, okay?
Now what if, for example, down in the basement, downstairs, there’s a fire
in the laundry room, okay? What if the fire spreads to different parts of
the basement? It happens without warning, it comes on super quick, you
don’t expect it. Now you want to hurry and put the fire out because you
already see that it has spread and you’re afraid that it’s going to consume
all of you. So you want to hurry and put the fire out, okay? Now
immediately after the fire happens, you might be really upset that a fire
happened in your house, okay? You might be really mad. You might look at a
lot of loss, you might feel a lot of grief. You might want to find who was
responsible for lighting this fire, okay?
Now we talk about choices, okay? How do you get back upstairs once the
basement lit on fire? And why should you go back upstairs? Now, imagine
this, okay? Let’s imagine that back down to basement the smoke alarm went
off. You heard the smoke alarm, you went down there, and guess what?
Basement’s on fire, okay? Now what happens is this lower part of the brain
wants to keep us alerted to the possibility of that getting on fire again.
So you can imagine what might happen. Anytime you hear any kind of alarm,
your brain will go back to the basement. “The basement’s on fire, surely
it’s on fire.” If you smell the slightest whiff of smoke, our brain will
tell us that, “It’s on fire. You’re on fire.” Okay? So again, how do you go
back upstairs? It’s through choosing to, and that’s what I’m going to talk
Our brains will give us all the drama about why we can’t leave our post,
and that the house will surely burn down if we do. But it is actually
through taking steps upstairs that we are able to access the part of our
brain that will actually help us to move forward, so how do we do this? How
do we get out of the basement and start moving up the stairs? So first we
choose to feel, we choose to sit with awareness, we choose to feel our
emotion. We’re not hiding in one corner of the basement, like the cellar.
Okay, we’re not hiding over there going, “I hope it doesn’t burn down
again. I’m so afraid it’s going to burn down.” But you actually are coming
out and you’re stepping into that basement and you’re really looking at it.
You’re actually really looking at the damage and feeling all the feelings
that come up with seeing the damage. You smell it, you feel it, you see the
damage. You are accepting that this is real, that this happened. Okay?
Now, one of the ways that we keep ourselves in the basement is by thinking
that it should not have happened, by stewing on who actually lit the fire,
why would they do that? Who did it? Who done it? Right? Who was
responsible? Who can we blame? We keep ourselves in the basement by feeling
sorry for ourselves, that we are hanging out in a burned up basement that
we did not light. We did not do it. But my friends, even though we can
understand it, and have compassion for that person that’s stuck in their
basement, this is how we are keeping ourselves stuck in the basement in
pain and not moving forward, okay? So, let’s say that you’re ready to start
moving up the stairs, your brain will freak out, I promise you it will. It
will tell you that it feels risky. It will tell you that you need to stay
down there and to watch for any signs of danger. Okay?
But when you understand that it’s actually risky to stay in the basement as
well. You might just find some motivation to take that first step, okay?
You might find the courage to take the first step. Okay, so let’s say that
you start climbing the stairs. You start going up, you start looking
around. At first the most important thing to do will be to see what
thoughts and feelings send you right back down to the basement. You’re
going to look around and you’re going to start paying attention to, when I
think about this, I go hide in the cellar, that’s where I go. Okay, so I’m
going to come back to this upstairs downstairs analogy, but I’m going to
hop to another one for a minute, okay? When I talk about understanding your
thoughts and feelings and which ones send you back to the basement, I’m
going to talk about trains for just a second. Okay?
Thoughts and feelings can be very much like hopping on a train. You have a
circumstance that happens, thought comes up, you feel an emotion. And often
what happens is we hop on this train and we ride that out, we ride out that
thought, we ride out that feeling. Now here’s the problem is that that
feeling will take us to the exact same destination every single time, every
time it’s a dead end. Every single time, but we keep hopping back on it
because we’re really just sure that this time it’s going to take us
somewhere new. We hop back on it because it’s very familiar because we know
it really well, it is very well traveled. We know exactly how to hop on it,
we know exactly when it ends. It’s very predictable, okay? So even though
we don’t love the ride and it’s bumpy, and we know where it takes us, and
we know it’s not actually where we want to go, we keep getting on it. Okay?
Same destination every single time.
So going back up to our upstairs, that’s what I’m talking about. It’s
identify the thoughts, the feelings that are rehashing our pain, that are
recreating the pain over and over. It’s looking at, “How could he do this
to me?” Trying to continue to blame, trying to continue to hang out in
despair, and feeling like we have no choice, and that we’re just stuck.
That’ll send you to the same destination every time, which is in the
darkest corner of the basement, okay? So, what to do? one of the things
that our brain is going to tell us is that they should come get us out of
the basement, “He made this mess, why shouldn’t they come get me? Why
shouldn’t they come pull me out?” But here’s the truth my friends, no one
can do this except for you.
Other people can really want it for you. Other people can really want to
take you upstairs and show you around and show you your beautiful bedroom
with a beautiful window of the view, but no one can get there except for
you. No one can carry you. No one can give you the words, or the motivation
that will be strong enough to get you to climb those stairs, except for you
because your primal brain is going to tell you that it’s a major threat to
go upstairs, okay? Now what somebody else can do, like a partner, is they
can help you feel safer to come up. They can help you feel like it’s safe
to take some steps. They can show you that it’s okay, and not only is it
okay, but they’re going to help you fix the basement, they’re going to help
clean it up, they’re going to help rebuild it. But you and you alone have
to choose to want to get out of the basement.
Okay, so where do I see this? I see this with clients who have been stuck
for a really long time, going to counseling, for example, for years and
years. They’re reading the books, they’re doing the things, but they’re not
actually moving. Part of the reason why is because they haven’t actually
chosen to leave the false safety of the basement, they’re outsourcing this
work. They’re hoping that they’ll read the magical words, or they’ll hear
the magical podcast, or hire the magical coach or therapist that’s going to
blop them from the downstairs to the upstairs. But unfortunately we have to
choose it, we have to choose that we want to do something different, okay?
Now what does this something different look like? Another issue that my
clients run into is that they simply do not know how to feel safe upstairs.
They don’t know how to feel safe climbing up the stairs.
It’s not a problem with them, okay? It’s not a problem with them, they’re
not broken. It’s a skill problem, we have been taught a lot of theory about
how, “Oh, we need to feel our feelings. We need to grow. We need to
communicate all these things.” But we often miss the most important part,
which is how. How do I do it? Okay, so in this podcast, I have tackled a
lot of things around the how, some of these episodes go way back to the
beginning. One is called, Feeling our Feelings. One is, Using Feelings as
Fuel. A couple are Learning to Trust part one and part two. Another is
Believing New Themes. And the last one is Creating Safety. All of those
will help broaden your understanding of how you can learn to stay upstairs
more frequently. But today I want to talk about one specific choice.
I know it looks like this, okay? I know where this takes me every time, and
I’m choosing something different, okay? It is parenting your brain. It’s
saying, I know that when I go down this road, I know when I think this
thought, I know when I allow myself to feel this… This is my cue, when I
feel this. I’m hopping on that train, I’m getting on. And I’m believing
that this time it’s going to take me something different, but I know
better. I know where this train leads, and I’m either going to get off, or
I’m going to go to the switch yard, and get on a different track. I know
that when I think these thoughts, when I choose to ruminate in this space,
it throws me down to the basement. Okay, so what to do instead?
There are lots of things you can do. Here’s some suggestions, okay? You can
lean into curiosity, curiosity is powerful. Why is this coming up now?
Where is this coming from? I feel tempted to go back down to the basement,
why? What’s going on? What am I feeling? What am I feeling afraid of?
What’s actually going on? Okay? What do I want to believe and why? Going
back to your why is really crucial. It makes the difference between the
thing that keeps you moving up the stairs and staying up there, or going
back down to the basement, okay? To climb even the first step, we have to
have a pretty strong reason why we want to, or our brain will default to
going back to the basement, okay? Now, despite our best laid efforts, we’re
going to end up in the basement sometimes, and it’s okay.
This is what I want you to do, I want you to look around in the basement. I
want you to become more acquainted with what it feels like there, what you
do there, what results you repeat down there. Your why will help remind you
to go back up the stairs, it will remind you that you’re safe and you will
be able to move up and down the stairs faster than before. You’ll grow your
capacity to move through this cycle faster. Especially when faced with
things that feel really traumatic and really intensely painful we tend to
forget that we have options and choices. But my friends, we always do. We
always do. You will not gather the information needed to make really clear
decision about what you want, about where you want to go, about who you
want to be with, or who you want to be period, without moving to the
upstairs. At least part of the time. When we are hanging out in the
basement, our intelligence is shut down, it’s offline.
We’re and survival mode in the basement, we’re just trying to function and
get through. The place you want to be is upstairs to make the decisions
that will help you move forward and help you really understand what it is
that you’re choosing from a place of love, from a place of strength, from a
place of courage, and not from fear and default thinking. Okay?
So to wrap this up, where are you right now? What room of the house are you
in? What step are you on on the stairs, or are you in the basement, or are
you hanging out upstairs? Or, do you find yourself going up and down the
stairs multiple times a day and really wearing yourself out? It could be
there too. I want you to decide right now, what’s one decision I can make
right now? What’s one choice I can make right now in this very moment,
what’s one choice I can make in this moment that I will thank myself for
later. You are worth it my friends, you’re worth choosing. Choose you,
choose your experience, okay? Choose wanting more for yourself because you
are worthy of it. Choose taking the steps up those stairs, moving your body
and climbing. It will feel really uncomfortable, it will feel really hard,
but you’re worth it.
Okay, that’s what I have for you today, I will see you next week. All
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
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it’s andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. I will see you next time.