My Brain in Full Trickster Mode is a Sight to Behold

Homer Simpson

Tricks of the brain illusions

Emotional roller coasters as the facts of life in Sydney catch up with us

Lady D and I have lived in an amazing apartment in Sydney with sweeping views over the harbour for the past 7 years. Besides enjoying the space, the light and the view, I’ve felt at home there and possibly even “house proud”. As I was want to say to various friends and acquaintances: “They’ll have to carry me out of here in a box”. But the harsh realities of Sydney real estate and tenancy laws meant we’ve had to move a bit sooner than that, and on our own two feet.

We found a nice place in a new suburb and we’ve settled down again, three months since being confronted with the facts of life in Sydney. The past three months have been a bit of an emotional roller coaster, as you might imagine, and it’s been fascinating to observe my brain in action during this time.

One of the first things I noticed, was that my whole outlook and appreciation of what had been our home for the past 7 years changed.

  • Suddenly, the apartment became just 4 walls and a roof.
  • Suddenly, I stopped looking at the view and where previously I’d always opened the doors to the balcony, whenever I could, now I couldn’t be bothered half the time.
  • For years I made a point of waking up around sunrise to see the sun come up over the water, but suddenly, I started sleeping in most mornings.
  • Suddenly, I felt out of place in the suburb and even Sydney lost some of its gloss.

Once the decision was made to move, I couldn’t get out fast enough.

Looking beyond Sydney

Beyond the short-term move we’ve now made, we also decided it’s time to look beyond Sydney for the next stage of our lives. The house we’ve moved into a month ago will only be our home for only a year or so.

And again, I’ve noticed my brain scrambling into action. Because we know we’re only going to be here for a year or so, I’m finding it difficult to get emotionally connected to this place. It doesn’t feel like home and where previously I would have gone out of my way to make our place feel homely, now I’m not even motivated to hang up any pictures. I have this sense of having moved into a furnished apartment.


It’s a fascinating process my brain is taking me through these months. It seems to me that it’s all about self-preservation. My brain is intent on protecting me from being hurt. Having to leave the apartment, having to move again in a year and having to leave Sydney, potentially involves a lot of pain, but if I don’t like the apartment, if I’m bored with the view or with the pretentiousness of the suburb… Everything changes, doesn’t it? I won’t grieve for something I don’t like anyway. And as long as I’m not emotionally attached to the new place, well it won’t matter so much to leave that behind later either.

It’s a neat trick really.

A con trick, but a neat one nevertheless. Especially when bundled with the other trick the brain plays to minimise pain. The trick of blaming the rest of the world.

Landlords and Carlords

I found myself getting incredibly angry with the rental property managers, with the government’s mis-management of the Sydney property market, with the pre-historic state of Sydney tenancy laws and with the property owners (I refuse to call them landlords by the way, as if I would refer to the owners of Hertz car rentals as “Carlords”).

Red hot angry.

Those moronic &%$**$% and corrupt @#%^$&& etc etc etc, you get the picture.

(Don’t get me started, I can work myself into a right frenzy here.)

But of course, it’s just my brain doing more self-preservation. It stops me from focusing on what’s really going on.

Righteous anger

My anger may indeed be righteous and justified, as I firmly believe it is, but it doesn’t alter the fact that I could have seen this thing coming for years. The Tenancy laws haven’t changed in any recent past and I made good use of the insanity of Sydney real estate myself, some years back.

Really what’s going on is frustration with myself for not having prepared better and possibly even some embarrassment that my business hasn’t become so successful that a little thing like a 40% rent hike is of no consequence.

The primary function our brain has, is to keep us alive and to protect us from any and all possible attacks. It all goes back to cavemen days in fact. If a sabretooth tiger is about to pounce, you don’t have the luxury to check in with your deepest feelings, to feel the disappointment in yourself for not being more careful in your choice of camp site. The only thing that matters is to preserve your life and the lives of those that are dependent on you. Time enough for recriminations and learning the lessons and feeling the pain later… As long as you make it out of there alive first.

A hundred thousand years on

And so it goes with our brains still, 100,000 years later. Our stresses and pains have different causes, but our brains behave in the only way they know how: preserve life, minimise pain, get out of there and live to fight another day.

I’ve found it really useful to realise that that is what my brain has been doing over these past few months. It’s allowed me to calm down more easily and it’s allowed me to make cleaner decisions.

Of course I can’t know what tricks your brain plays on you from time to time, but rest assured it does. I suggest you be on the lookout for them and see if you can’t catch your brain out some time. It’s quite wonderful to behold your brain in action… I promise you.

4 comments on “My Brain in Full Trickster Mode is a Sight to Behold

  1. Brave and beautiful story. Really enjoyed reading it.

    One thing that bubbles up from my brain is that the powerful trick of believing can be helpful here.
    First of all to be aware of its destructive sides where your recent share shows that we get aggressive when our beliefs are challenged. This reaction is a good sign its time to evaluate our beliefs and see if new insights are available. To react aggressively on our beliefs also can lead to social disconnects. And we thrive on these.
    Secondly the positive sides of believing; to believe whatnis happening to you is exactly what God,existence or your guardian angels have put on your path for your ultimate well being and the enrichment of your soul. Relabel your adversities as an adventure and celebrate them. Even if you cant see any point. You will one day.
    This trick has made the hardest times of my life a lot more enjoyable and gave me great confidence and ease in crises.

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