Photo credit By Tezza

The other night, I was watching Ted Talks on YouTube whilst making lunch for the next day. Under my recommended videos, was a video called How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over by Mel Robins. I can count numerous occasions when I have, in fact, done just that – so I clicked on it.

Plus, at over 8 million views I knew it had to have some substance!

Mel’s lecture was a revelation for me.

Particularly when she described the two sides of the brain (figuratively). She described one side as our autopilot and the other side as the hand break. The autopilot side, is a similar concept explained by Bill Eckstrom in his talk titled Why Comfort Will Ruin Your Life. It is the space where growth is not occurring and stagnation reins. It is the side that functions when we drive to work and don’t even remember the journey. This side, is the enemy of positive change. Bill explains that our comfort zone stands between us and everything we want.

But what interested me the most, was the idea that we all have an inner hand break. We come up with ideas constantly, but if we don’t act on those ideas within five seconds, our hand break goes on. Sadder still, our hand break is pulled the fastest around the things we want the most. Why? Because these things make us feel extra vulnerable.

It’s the voice that whispers “you can’t do it” or “that is going to be way too hard” or “everyone will laugh at you”. It is what some of us like to call our voice of reason. But often our voice of reason is the voice of sabotage wearing a fake mustache and dark glasses. Because let’s be honest – you could do it if you really wanted; yes it may be hard, but worth it, and absolutely people could laugh – but who cares.

I will give you a personal example.

Gun to my head, I would say that my main purpose in this world is to be a writer. It is the thing I have done since I was a tiny little girl. I would cut up pad paper and staple it together into booklets to write on. I wrote poetry about tigers and went on writing retreats – but above all of that, it is the one thing that I can not live without doing. It is not a want, but a need. I can write just about anything. From fashion blog posts to children’s stories (one of which was about a unicorn called Tony, who as it turns out was very camp. Apparently it sounded as though I’d been smoking something when I wrote it).

But, around the topic of writing, I am the most terrified of stretching outside my comfort zone and the most prone to putting on a hand break. I am the most vulnerable. I am the most afraid of hearing someone say “baby, you’re no good”.

Tell me I suck at something I don’t care about – it doesn’t hurt. Tell me I suck at my purpose – well that stings a little (cue crying loudly and eating french fries).

Art is a funny thing – we are compelled to share it with the world. As though there is a genetic switch that pushes us to express ourselves to others. But to create our own powerful art, is to take our heart and put it on the canvas. Then we offer it up – and in this world we live in, the heart gets passed around and looked at or read or watched or criticised. Putting our heart on paper, or whatever your medium, can kind of feel like offering a delicate snow globe to a toddler. You want to share, but you beg them to be careful and not drop it.

Today, I checked the drafts folder of my blog – there are 206 unposted blogs. 206 pieces of writing that I wrote and then obviously decided were not good enough (hand break) or too personal (outside my comfort zone). 206 snow globes hidden away from the world. 206 hearts that will never be broken, but also never loved.

After watching Mel’s video, I vowed to start writing more often and writing more from my heart. I once read a book called Tiny Beautiful Things – Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. In this book she offers advice to a young writer who is struggling (we’re all struggling, it’s part of the stereotype). The advice she offered was so profound, they have printed it on coffee cups that you can purchase for your desk. Sugar eloquently states:

Write like a motherfucker.

So write like a motherfucker, I will.

 Much love, Katie xx

Ps – Enjoy Mel’s Ted talk below!

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Hi, I’m Katie. I am a kiwi neuroscientist with a love for consuming and creating content. This site is where I share my personal thoughts and the thoughts of incredible minds from around the world. PhD in Neuroscience, University of Otago.


    1. Aw thank you Katrina! I’m so glad you can relate and then hopefully feel less alone! I promise I will. I’m finally at the point in my life where I’ve decided to worry less what people think and just be authentic. Too exhausting to be anything else xoxox

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