Freaking Out Your Brain

And why you need to let it freak sometimes so it can grow

Moving … ugh. Is there anybody who really likes the process of moving?

I recently moved again. Moving is not only a pain and an expense but it also takes a lot out of you: physically, mentally, and emotionally. And do know why it’s such a stressor?

Moving Freaks Out Your Brain

Here’s the deal: your brain equates safety with what it has already mapped. So new places and experiences (which are not yet mapped by your brain) put your brain on alert for danger. You move somewhere new and your system feels disregulated or out of balance because things are not familiar. Everything is new and the brain has a lot of mapping to do. This stress and the effects on your body can make you more susceptible to illness in the first six months after you move. 1

Your brain likes familiar places but here’s the flip side: your brain changes when you try new things and go new places. It’s forced to adapt – and adaptation leads to growth in your brain. But that doesn’t mean the process will be easy.

Safety vs. growth: the choice so often in front of us in life.

So Be Smart When You’re Asking for Growth

That’s why when I moved this time, I doubled down on taking care of myself and making my brain feel safe. This move was slow, it was local (I moved from a suburb of Seattle into the city of Seattle), and I had a month of overlap between the old place and the new place. I’ve never moved this slowly in my life.

A month. What a luxury and wow did it lower the panic level. As opposed to Aug 2020, when I moved over the course of a few days from CA to WA in the middle of the pandemic during a wildfire blazing on the outskirts of Santa Cruz (smoke in the air as we packed the pod, water helicopters flying overhead) and while starting a new job. That move was gutsy (go big or go home Lisbeth was in full effect) but I paid the price in many ways. So this time, I was smarter and made different choices.

Making Better Choices

And that’s what we do, right? Have experiences and make better choices. Live and learn.

Or, if we are unwise or unwilling to listen to Sister Universe (she’s a know-it-all and annoying even if she’s usually right), we live and learn and live and learn and live and learn painfully until we tire of learning the same lesson in a multitude of different places. And then we change our old ways (adapt) and learn new things instead.

But the good news is this: we are made to learn.

This Stuff Isn’t Easy

Yet we don’t always choose the new path. Sometimes, we stick our heels in the ground and say, “I can’t change” or “That’s just the way I am.”

But I’m here to tell you that if you are choosing not to grow – whether that’s in your workout, your work, or your relationships – you are choosing a lesser existence.

And why would you do that?

  1. Because you’re scared? Valid. And you can work on that.

  2. Because you’re tired? Valid. And you can rest and recover.

  3. Because you’re old? Stop that shit. Age is no excuse, young or old.

What I’m trying to say here is that I can understand a hesitancy to adapt and grow but I really hope you reconsider because the hard truth is that your glorious life is probably not going to arrive through you playing it safe all the time.

This doesn’t mean you have to move nine times in your life (that’s my number: just counted) or get all crazy and quit your job or your marriage (again, me) … but it does mean maybe you should look at your life and see where you’re playing it too safe.

Share Strong Starts in the Mind™

Find the Place Where Your Heart Fights Your Mind

  • You probably already know exactly where your personal quandry is

  • You probably already know where you long to do X but you keep doing Y

I know that feeling. I spent many years living that feeling. But then I swallowed hard, faced my fear, and took a big leap. And guess what happened?

The Universe caught me.

And, emboldened by that catch (or just foolish), I took another leap … and another … and another.

And the Universe kept catching me.

The good news here? If that can happen to me, it can happen to you, too. If you’re frustrated and you’re willing to do the work, your glorious life is probably still be out there waiting for you.

But you’re going to have to meet her at least halfway. So, if you’re not exactly where you want to be at this moment in your life, take a chance. Take your chance. Do it smartly and take care of yourself.

And if you want to, tell me in the comments below about your life. I’m interested and I care. I’ll be over here, unpacking some boxes in my little house in the trees. Ugh … moving.


I learned this information about the brain (and a whole bunch more) by listening to the book “What Happened to You?” by Bruce D. Perry and Oprah Winfrey. (I would advise listening instead of reading this book. Oprah’s editor likes to place entire chapters in bolded italics. Yeah, no. I can’t go for that.)