The Campaign for the Mind

Brit Tashjian

Tuesday started out great. I was well-rested and up early enough to caffeinate and have a little planning time before the kids woke up. The perfect day to give intermittent fasting another try. Never mind that it went horribly the first three times I tried it. Today was a new day! I just couldn’t escape all the online noise about how it was the best and only way for my stubborn metabolism to drop a few unwanted pounds and cure all the aches and pains of my middle-aged mom bod. So, I plotted my eating window to start at 2:00 p.m. and went about my morning trying to ignore the hunger gnawing at my gut. 

By 1:00 p.m. I was sitting in my car, in the underground Costco parking lot tearing off chunks of steaming hot Rotisserie chicken with my bare hands and scarfing them down medieval style. Not sure if it was a blood sugar drop or a protein binge reaction, or what, but I was sweating so bad I had to blast the air conditioning to keep it from dripping off my brow. And even that didn’t stop me from eating all the way to the carcass and washing it down with my one dollar fountain soda. And that’s how, for the fourth time that month, I confirmed that I was indeed a breakfast person and would probably always need to be a breakfast person. 

What was so convincing about this particular diet? I asked myself as I suffered through chicken binge bloat and diet coke burps for the next hour. Someone’s interpretation of modern science? Well, no offense, but the modern science of dieting in the 90’s told me that I could eat 100 calorie packs of air popped Oreos all day because they were low fat. I was done with the health and fitness influencers!  

I recently learned that we have over 6,000 thoughts a day, and I suspect many of those are prompted by the ever-increasing content of social media. Everyone from your marriage therapists to that lovely couple on Etsy who sold you the Montessori play table (back when you thought all your toys would be neutral wood tones) has an agenda that they are broadcasting. Your pastor has a podcast and a vibrant Twitter community, your children’s schools and enrichment programs all have Instagram accounts that push their important reminders and inspiring resources, as do any local organizations or non-profits you care about. Your work community has some sort of social platform you need to learn and your extended family is vigorously political on Facebook so you have to check it periodically. Not to mention all the self-help gurus and industry leaders you follow for your hobbies and spare time scrolling, or to just get a mental break from all the serious stuff.  

Some of these agendas and the content they produce are fantastic, and exactly what you care about. But they are only responsible for channeling one brand, topic or esthetic at all times, while you are responsible for filtering and digesting ALL of them in a day. That’s a lot of content competing for your mind, and a lot of things for you to care about at once.  

There’s too much content in a mom’s day to just prioritize and make our to-do list. Now we need to promote the important things each day, like our own mental Google analytics. The good news is that you are the advertising executive behind the campaign for your mind. And it’s time to start pitching the right messages and promoting the right products that really benefit you.

If you had no interest in changing up your child’s extra curricular activities when an advertisement for STEAM team on Thursdays catches your eye, followed by a reminder post from your elementary school about the benefits of engineering for 8-year-old that’s a new thought triggering your consideration and mental real estate that you didn’t have room for that day. Some of us have been on social media collecting ideas and agendas for a couple of decades so just multiply that intrusive thought pattern by about 500 to understand why you are constantly overloaded! You aim to have a great Saturday of being present with your kids and catching up on a work project, but then a scroll through your accounts has you going down rabbit holes of self-improvement book recommendations, a political topic that revved up your arguing engine and a service project reminder you and your middle-schooler must attend so you’re off to your calendar. It’s not even 8:00 a.m. and your mind is already overcrowded. 

Social media fasts, or deleting our accounts altogether is a great concept, but not realistic for many people. Instead, I want us to change the algorithms. YOU find the content you need – whether its a podcast for your spirit, a quote from your favorite inspiration source, or half a day of delaying any online interaction so that you can be present for your real people plans. You decide what fills the majority of your mind that day. You also get to decide how you do it. Maybe it’s screen time limits, or days off social media or just being selective rather than scrolling. Similar to how we tell our kids they can have dessert once they’ve eaten enough of the good food they need, we can take in some distracting content once our daily needs have been met. You’re in control and you need to make your resources work for you, not the other way around. If you have mental room leftover after you’ve gotten in your “nutrition”, then you can open it up to the cosmic game of content chance and be okay with the distractions of hilarious parenting memes, convicting social justice challenges or new recipes and seasonal outfits. 

No matter how long you’ve been a mom – just this year, or over a decade like myself, please know that just because the voices in the world get louder, or speak more often, they aren’t better than your own. Yours – the one that already does the thinking, praying, seeking, (and shopping!) on behalf of your whole family –  is the one most worth trusting. Besides, if you give the account of your mind over to anyone else, you might just find yourself sweating in an underground parking lot, elbow deep in discount bulk poultry. 

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