Maia Toll
Let’s talk a little bit about our brains.

While incredibly useful and adaptive, they can also be single-minded (no pun intended!) bullies.

A couple years back, I was doing a little number crunching for the business. It was one of those potentially annoying jobs that nobody else had enough time or desire to do. I had a bit of both, so I jumped into the breach.

The truth is, I love detail work. The intricate doodles in the margins of my notebooks would make a pointillist proud.

This was just more detail work, nothing particularly upsetting about it.

And yet, my brain was going to town.

It created a mantra of misery about how upset I was that I had to do this mindless number crunching. It wanted all kinds of drama around the fact that no one else had bothered to do this work. It seemed to think that I was too important and too busy to help out with this particular task.

I checked in with my body; it was fine.

I looked at the calendar; nothing else needed doing.

I glanced back at my ranting brain; it was determined to think me miserable. More dangerous than that, my brain was trying to goad me into a stress response to what was, essentially, a non-stressful situation. Stress causes high blood sugar, high blood pressure, brain fog, memory loss… why the heck would my brain want to send me there?

Addiction, dear Watson.

Yup, like many of you I’m a recovering cortisol junkie. Like many of you, I spent years mastering the fine art of overthinking myself miserable.

Our brain’s amygdala is not particularly smart; it translates shame, anger, resentment, and even our “dress rehearsals for tragedy” (a fabulous phrase I first heard on a teleconference with Brene Brown and Lissa Rankin. It’s when you think all the way through the worst possible scenario you can dredge up for any situation) as full-on stress.

Each time we turn on our stress-response, we turn off our body’s self-healing mechanisms. Click To Tweet

Make it stop!

In the past few years, I’ve learned to leash my Bully Brain.


  1. Most importantly, realize you are more than your brain.
  2. Your Bully Brain is a lot like a child who wants attention. Just like with a child, you can notice the ranting without reacting.
  3. Pull in a little extra support from the plant world to tame the raving beast:
    • Passion Flower to calm circular thinking (if your brain feels like a gerbil on a wheel, this one’s for you!).
    • Rhodiola to lower cortisol levels (yup, there’s science on that).
    • Milky Oat to sooth the stressors of daily modern life.
  4. Take an essential oil break:
    • Put a drop of your favorite essential oil on your palm. My choices: grapefruit, sea pine, or cistus (rock rose).
    • Rub your hands together and hold them over your nose. Inhale. Exhale. Ahhhhh.

Share this with a friend and combat your Bully Brains together!