Well, good morning or afternoon
or evening or night, whatever
time it is, wherever you are.
I’m Tracy apps also known as
tapps, many places on the internet.
And I am coming to you
from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
USofA where there’s lots
of snow, wherever you are.
I hope you’re good.
Hope you’re doing good.
That’s okay, too, but at least safe.
That’s what we can ask.
So Hey, how you doing?
Do you hate this question?
I’m doing awful.
I’m doing terrible.
Don’t ask me that.
Have you felt that this kind of
reaction to this question last year?
This, I found video of myself.
Last year, I want to say this
was Marchulyvember the 78th,
well maybe 79th, whatever.
It was a Thursday.
I know because the
weekend it flooded more.
So what did your 2020 look like?
My typical day kind of rotated
around well, many of these things,
so I ate way too many cookies put
together way too many puzzles.
And according to a bag of
chips, I am a family of four.
Whenever I just, everything, this
my, I lost my grandma in May, but we
didn’t have a chance to have a funeral.
So we had a funeral in November,
so I felt this grief was just
like hanging over unprocessed.
It was discombobulated all over the place.
Disillusioned and just disappointed
by people and actions and the world
then feeling despair and like anxiety
because of the state of the world and
wanting to do something, but a complete
lack of motivation just takes over.
And I felt ashamed because.
I couldn’t do anything and an anxious
and avoidant and spent hours on TikTok.
And normally I have my battles with my
persistent depression, which had that.
Then I add in some little
Add in that grief and my sudden
loss of my job and my relationship
during the middle of a pandemic.
And now the cherry on top is the
added COVID pandemic, depression.
Which I don’t know how to
handle that because that’s new.
And now I’m trying to keep up with the
news, trying to be a responsible adult.
And I still can’t because of
the motivation energy thing.
And but yet I’m still obsessive, really
researching scientific studies and
stats and all those kinds of things.
And I know perfectly well,
perfectly well that human contact.
And connection is crucial
for my mental health.
And yet I was so overwhelmed and
burnt out that I couldn’t do anything
about it and even avoided people.
So instead I sat on my couch
and ate dairy free ice cream.
Let me just to name a few.
I mean, this is typical a standard day.
Well, hence why this talk, our
brains are actually working fine.
You know that?
What, what do you mean?
Well, turns out brains
are complex and weird, so.
There’s a lot of things that are just
happening without us even knowing
it just happened automatically.
And so I wanted to make this
talk because of this, but first
I want to reiterate something.
You are not broken.
I am not broken.
We are not broken.
I spent much of the year just
blaming myself, beating myself up.
Because I couldn’t get
back to my normal state.
I couldn’t get back to that.
I used to have energy.
I had ambition, I had focus.
I was learning.
It was motivation, all this stuff.
I was beating myself because
I couldn’t get back to that.
Hence why I had to write this
talk because I needed to hear it.
I needed to hear this and I have a
feeling that I’m not the only one.
So let’s look at a little
bit what’s happening.
So our brains are complex and
they receive so much information.
It is impossible to process all
of that information in our brains.
Can’t even it is they, can
not it’s just not possible.
So instead they’re shortcuts
and a bunch of other stuff that
kind of goes on automatically.
So we don’t get eaten bear,
you know, so explain, let’s go back to
science and biology class and look at our
brain Our brain has all of these different
regions and parts, and each of them has
their own functions that they perform.
So things like the cerebellum that
handles your balance and coordination
or lack thereof, your rhythm and
that kind of the perception, the
spatial perception around you.
Then you’ve got your temporal, that’s kind
of that speech that auto the emotions,
behavior short-term long-term memory.
And then there’s these other parts of
one that just, just handles like the
visual system recognizes letters the
sensory information and other part
touch, taste, smell, temperature.
But the most.
Important to this talk,
especially and one of the most
developed we’re going to look in.
The at the frontal lobe.
So the part right in the front
of our brains, this is a pretty
complex area of the brain.
It handles a lot of different things.
It’s a wide range of
things that it handles.
So things like that complex abstract
thinking in the future planning and
organization and reasoning regulating
our emotions and our attention.
All of these things happen
in the frontal lobe.
And we can even go look deeper.
They break the frontal lobe up into
three main areas, the prefrontal cortex,
the premotor area and the motor area.
So what do each of these do?
Well, the, the prefrontal
cortex does this one.
This is all those cognitive behaviors
or personality although decision-making
and future planning the complex kind of
thinking all of the stuff that I have been
feeling that I have lost during 2020 and
the pandemic all of the stuff that was
frustrated about kind of happens in that.
Free prefrontal cortex.
And then the other two areas
that premotor and motor area,
they kind of work together.
And the premotor area is like the
preparing your muscles for the
action that you’re going to do.
So preparing to put that toothpaste
on your toothbrush and then the motor
area at actually generates the neural
impulses down your spinal cord.
And now you have toothpaste
on your toothbrush.
So if everything’s
working correctly, right?
Well, this talk is going to focus a
lot, mostly on the prefrontal cortex.
Because like I said, these were the
things that I really struggled with.
I feel like I just failed or lost them.
So why are we doing this?
Why are we looking into this?
Well, this is science.
So let’s explain.
So going back to a bear situation, right?
Whoa, we’ve got a bear.
He doesn’t look happy.
Our brain now is taking that input and now
it’s like, okay, what’s more important.
Maybe I should add a
little more to my 401k.
Or run away.
I’m going to say that run
away is the correct answer.
That is more important in this situation.
In this case, our brains really
need the that’s that speed and
efficiency, efficiency is key.
Otherwise we have gotten eaten by a bear
while we are thinking about our 401k.
So our brains are smart because.
They do these things.
Well, they sometimes at least they’re
efficient cause he takes a lot of these
things and helps us out automatically
without us even asking it too.
So let’s take that situation.
And your is like rerouting, and
it’s taking that blood from your
prefrontal cortex and rerouting it
to that and powering up your fight or
flight mode, giving you that energy,
that, that adrenaline gets your
muscles going so you can run faster,
jump higher, all of these things.
The system worked.
This is a good thing.
We ran away from the bear.
This is what our stress
system is set up for.
Well, let’s look at 2020 though.
It’s more like bear!
Bear, bear, bear, bear!
Now this, this is less good.
This, this is not.
What our stress response
system is built to handle.
Let’s let’s look at, go back
to our frontal lobe again.
So everything’s functioning fine.
We’ve got our blood flow that is keeping
the functionality of our frontal lobe.
We’re doing great.
And then all of a sudden breaking
news, this crazy thing happened.
Oh, Oh, geez.
Now everything’s on fire.
Oh, wait, what injustice?
I need to, what, what, what
happened on Twitter now?
Hornets, murder, murder Hornets.
No, we’re we’re bear!
We’re taking all of these things
and our brain is responding to
them in that stress response.
And it’s just ticking away.
Just, just suffocating out these
functions, like our future thinking,
our abstract thinking our organization.
Or reasoning, attention control all of
these things, the things that I’ve been
struggling with, they’re not getting the
resources they need to function correctly.
So I was getting so
frustrated with myself.
I was just beating myself up.
I used to have energy.
I used to have motivation.
I was plenty.
I had it.
I had, I was planning for my future.
I was good at it.
I was learning things.
I was feeling like I had control.
I was, I hit my stride.
I was doing good.
And then I just couldn’t.
Well I’m and this is why in turns out
these things are out of my control.
Doesn’t mean I’m helpless against
them, but I cannot control them.
That was the reminder I really needed.
And that comfort I’m like, Oh, I shouldn’t
beat up myself because these things
are, my brain is working correctly, but
wait, there’s more you think we’re done?
You know, just like 2020.
Going around again, but no, there’s a
lot of other things that are at play.
So this, this stress response, this
is just one piece of the puzzle.
So why is there no toilet paper?
Anyone else you wonder?
Well, let’s look a little
bit closer at cognitive bias.
These kind of drive our
actions and our behaviors.
What are, what is cognitive bias?
What are these?
It’s a way that our brains receive
and perceive and process that input.
And again, we have so much input,
so much coming at us that it is
impossible to process it all.
It’s that “Too long.
Didn’t read” part of our brains.
It’s the shortcuts.
It’s some of these things like,
Oh, I know that fire is hot.
I won’t touch it.
You know, those kinds of things
that we’ve learned, things that
are happened automatically.
Now, ultimately we’re creating our
own subjective reality because of
how we perceive the input is going
to be different than someone else,
how someone else perceives the input.
So our behaviors are being driven by this.
So there, some of these things that
we’re like, why is this happening?
Well, there’s actually.
Reasons because of this
cognative bias driven behavior.
So, and I said, cognitive
bias, it’s not all bad.
The shortcuts, they have their benefits
but they can lead to this distorted
view of the world and this illogical or
rash decisions and actions can happen.
So let’s look at some of
these things that are at play.
First one, talking about action bias.
So now this is a word, all right.
Under stress, the need to make some sort
of action to do some action, whatever it
is, it could re it could be beneficial.
It could be related to the actual
stressor, or it could not, but
just doing anything, anything at
all is better than doing nothing.
In this case of the toilet paper,
the action taken was the hoarding of
supplies of the toilet paper and food.
When in reality, there was no threat
of a shortage if everyone had it.
Alrighty, basic bought up
all of the toilet paper.
So, and now this is magnified
by the bandwagon effect.
So this need or desire and drive
to jump on the bandwagon and do
what most other people are doing.
So then that just magnifies this.
And now we, we have no toilet paper,
representativeness heuristic say that five times fast.
Now this is a phenomenon that it’s this
disconnect where we are overestimating the
probability of something that’s very low
risk and we underestimate something that
has very high risks or high probability.
So think about.
There is a very small percentage
chance that I will be a
victim of a terrorist attack.
But because of that small
percentage, that possibility we
have the security measures in place.
We have these processes,
we do all of these things.
We take our shoes off all
because of that small percentage.
We should take things seriously.
The flip side though, is the
underestimating of something that has
a high probability of like underplaying
something that is affecting millions
of people in very catastrophic ways.
And we have people throwing big parties.
This this disconnect is something.
It falls under this this
heuristic here, substitution bias.
I, this one actually is funny to me.
It’s just like, it sounds
you’re substituting something.
You’re substituting solving a big
problem and solving a smaller, easier
one instead, because you can do that.
Think about this, we’ve got
our big complex problem.
The big complex problem is that
the healthcare system in the
United States is very flawed.
It is unjust.
It needs a lot of fixing
that it needs to be solved.
Well, let’s substitute a solution.
Well we added hand sanitizer
by the door, so done.
So it’s, it’s that?
Oh, it’s too big.
So I’m going to take a nap instead.
We all, we all do it.
How many of you just
took a nap instead of.
And these are just a few, these
are just a handful of, of the,
the biases and processes and
things that are at play here.
The other, these, and here,
some are more of them like this.
My favorite is like this telescoping
effect, you know how At least anyone
around my age, we think that 2000
was just like a couple of years ago.
Well, it’s this disconnect of well, we
think things just happened recently,
but in actuality, they happened far
away or long, you know, longer away
than we thought it was in things
like the ostrich ostrich effect.
You know, we just put our head in
the sand and these are kinds of some
of these things I encourage you.
There’s so many cognitive biases.
I encourage you to look them up
sometime, you know, when you have time
on your hands it’s fascinating reading,
well, nerdy, fascinating reading, but
fascinating very interesting to kind
of understand the, under the, like why
things we do things that don’t make sense.
A lot of them are explained in
because of through cognitive bias.
Finally, now don’t forget this
prolonged exposure to stress.
The bear every five minutes.
This is literally changing our brains.
It is literally changing our brains
and negatively affecting our health.
And our stress response system
was just not cut out for this.
So it’s kind of working
against us in this situation.
So remembering that we’re
not, we’re not set up for this
constant and continuous stress, so
know that this is working against
you and not under your control.
And second, the the ongoing trauma living
through that, it’s like a Petri dish.
It is provides this perfect
environment for developing complex
post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.
I like literally like the same and.
I’ve been reading some of these emerging
studies and they’ve been coining the
term post COVID stress disorder which
is PTSD, but it’s a communal one.
It’s something that’s a
shared by a population.
And in this case, a global
population, so a, a trauma that
we all share we’re dealing with
and we’re kind of carrying around
constantly is hanging over our heads.
Wherever we go and finally keep in mind.
So the core of this trauma
is disempowerment and
disconnection from others.
Does that sound familiar?
I think it’s pretty much my exp all
of 2020 losing control and power
of everything that I thought I had.
Frustrated with that.
And I’m disconnected so disconnected
and from others, both unintentionally
and intentionally, and basically we’re
just a constant, constant state of
battling against a trauma response.
And that’s exhausting.
So we’re tired.
We’re not broken.
Remember this you’re not broken, I’m
dealing with just one of these things.
Just one of these things that I
mentioned for a month would be
hard, but now we have been drowning,
constantly pelted from every side and
angle for a long time, constantly.
That from these external forces that are
coming together, banding together, like
the power Rangers and making it incredibly
hard for our ability to function yeah,
their working together against us.
Now, when I need to continually
remind myself this Because,
like I said, I was frustrated.
I was just upset at myself for not having
control or not being able to do this or
taking a nap instead of this or all of
these things, or just staring at a wall.
A lot of these things
were not under my control.
A lot of the things that I was
frustrated with are not under my control.
I’m not broken.
You are not broken.
We are not broken.
We’re just tired.
We have good reason to be.
So I want to emphatically.
Emphatically remind you and
myself being nicer to yourself.
You’re doing great.
It may not seem like it, but you are.
Thank you for listening now.
I’d love it.
If you keep in touch, I would be.
Happy to talk more, answer questions
of my research that I have for this,
or just geek out over some of the the
science behind our behaviors and emotions.
Some of the links on it.
Here, you can find everything
These slides are up on
So please connect with me, talk
with me and thank you for watching.
Thank you for listening
and be nice to yourself.
Cause you’re doing great.
Keep on being awesome.