Brain Wash

Brain Wash
Brain Wash

Brainwashed. The term we use when someone manipulates us, convinces us that something false is real, steals our identity and self-esteem. Something bad.

Brain Wash. The term I use when I need to manipulate myself, convince myself that something I think is real is actually false, saving my identity and self-esteem. Something good.

I know, you’ve never heard of this because it’s not a thing yet. I just made it up. But it’s based on something real that’s happened to me many times before.

The first time was in a hotel in New Orleans. I was there to deliver a seminar and I was feeling good. I stepped onto the elevator, one of those fancy glass ones with a view of the atrium lobby. A window washer had been working on the windows but hadn’t finished. One side was cloudy, spotted and smudged. The other was beautifully clear.

There was no actual difference in the view, but as I rode up to my room, looking through the clean glass made me feel good. The lobby, the plants, the people, all looked good. Clear and clean. I was happy to be there.

The side that hadn’t been cleaned yielded a different scene. The lobby looked dingy, the plants dirty, the people shady. There was no difference in reality, but my view of things was dirty. I didn’t feel as good about the place. It changed how I felt.

At that moment something clicked for me. I’d had plenty of life experience where my own thinking had caused problems for me. I just hadn’t had a window washer illustrate it for me like that.

Turns out, what’s on the inside of my head dictates my view of the world. When there’s something dirty in there, like resentment, anger, jealousy or victimhood, it changes my view of what’s happening around me. People trying to help me seem like they’re sabotaging me. Circumstances caused by the random chaos of life seem rigged against me personally. It’s a skewed view and it changes how I feel. Which changes how I act. And rarely in a good way.

Has this ever happened to you? You have a great morning delivering a seminar in a fancy hotel. After lunch you’re killing it, they’re eating out of the palm of your hand. Product sales are soaring, and you step into the restroom to, uh, rest.

You’re standing there, resting, and suddenly someone from the seminar rushes in and blurts out, “Hey, your microphone’s still on!” In that moment, how do you feel? Embarrassed? Humiliated? How do you act? Head down, avoiding eye contact, mumbling apologies?

Or did a window washer clean your view, and you straighten your shoulders, zip up, and stride in confidently knowing you have a great story to tell someone someday?

Whenever I realize that my dirty view is affecting my feelings, I know my behaviors aren’t far behind. So I force myself to stop. Take a big deep breath. Attempt a Brain Wash. Go back to that glass elevator in New Orleans. Hear the sound of the squeegee on glass. Smell the ammonia in the glass cleaner. See the window washer wipe up with a clean cloth. Clear up my view.

When I wipe the crud out of my head I can see clearly again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. As many times as necessary. Until I get a clear and clean view. Breathe in. Breathe out. Re-engage with the world.

Then walk right in with a lopsided grin on my face knowing everything’s going to be okay…


6 thoughts on “Brain Wash”

  1. I continue to appreciate your interesting, intelligent and well written blog. This time I’ve forwarded it to Leslie and Elena, with my suggestion that they check it out.
    Thanks for continuing to stimulate my thoughts and actions.

  2. I can relate to that skewed view of the world when you’re overcome with resentment or fall into victimhood. I’m going to use your brainwash exercise and visualise a little window washer clearing my worldview at those times! I’m enjoying reading your posts 🙂

  3. Yes, yes and yes. Being clear about what’s important is really helpful to success. I just finished reading a great book called “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel Brown. It really shows how much adversity can bring out the best in people. Hard times can also bring out the best. I rejoiced reading it because I related so much how these young men overcame so much difficulty to achieve success. The window that they were looking through at the world was not occluded by pessimism or negativity. They achieved something so heroic because they simply worked hard, stayed the course and trusted each other. A lesson for us all. Thanks for the post Mr. Boyd.

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