Featured Author: Sarah Brazier

April 27th, 2020
Sarah Brazier’s new book, Use Your Noodle teaches children to slow down and regulate their emotions before they make decisions. We had the privilege of speaking with Sarah about the inspiration for her book and how she hopes it will inspire her readers. 

The way you characterise the brain in your book is very unique. What was the inspiration for Use Your Noodle?
I have always been interested in people’s behaviour and motivations, including my own. When I had children, I, like many parents, read many books and sought to educate myself about their developing brains. The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson particularly resonated with me. They use a great explanation of the upstairs and downstairs brain in children and the need to keep the stairway accessible between the two.

Meanwhile, I was also learning more about the ancient Indian philosophy of Vedanta, explained by A Parthasarathy in his book Vedanta Treatise, where the ‘mind’ and the ‘intellect’ are discussed. I immediately could see the similarities and parallels between these two sources of quite different information.

Personally I found the simplicity of imagining two different, sometimes conflicting, characters in your brain easy to relate to and therefore enabled me to be more powerful in managing my own emotions. As I result, I was keen to share this knowledge with my eldest son, in case it also assisted him. I couldn’t find anything on the market at the time that explained these concepts to children, so the idea of Use Your Noodle was born.

How important are the skills demonstrated in Use Your Noodle?

Managing your emotions is tough, really tough. Emotions are so powerful and can overtake you. So many adults in my opinion still really struggle with this. I know I certainly do, particularly when I am tired, hungry, and/or stressed. 

Children, as I’m sure we have all experienced, demonstrate raw emotions openly and can find the power of emotions overwhelming. I am a great believer in educating kids about all aspects of life and I truly believe that learning to recognise and manage one’s emotions, is a key life skill. Learning these skills will allow children to take control over their behaviour and allow them to make powerful decisions that feel right to them. Which, in turn, will bring peace of mind, an important factor in good mental health.

What would you most like your readers to learn from your book?

There are several areas that I think are really important.
·       Experiencing a wide range of powerful emotions and feelings is totally normal. 
·       You have no control over what you feel – you are not a bad person for feeling how you do – this is your brain doing its job.
·       Being able to recognise emotions for what they are is really powerful. For example anger is often exhibited, but the true emotion causing the anger could be frustration, disappointment, jealousy etc. If you can recognise the underlying emotion, it is so much easier to take back control of your emotion and choose the appropriate behaviour.
·       Emotions are healthy. Allow yourself to feel them and then let them pass. Accepting and acknowledging them is all that is required. Don’t hold on to them, pretend that they are not happening etc. 
·       Our behaviour is totally within our control. No-one ‘makes’ us do something. We are choosing to ‘react’ to something or someone, but how we react is within our control.
·       The power of pausing and breathing, and listening to your inner self before choosing a course of action.
·       No-one knows what we are thinking. We don’t know what someone else is thinking. Don’t assume that you know why someone did something. It most likely isn’t about you – it’s about what their own mind and noodle are telling them right now.
·       We aren’t perfect. We all make mistakes. We are all constantly learning. Be kind to others and to yourself.
·       Keep learning and trying to better yourself. 
·       Peace of mind brings true happiness.

My hope is that the book will be used as a tool to initiate discussions in general, between adults and children, about broader concepts of emotional intelligence. About knowing yourself, celebrating and embracing your individuality and respecting others for being true to themselves.

How has your own life experience influenced your writing?

Humans are such complex beings. From spending years trying to educate people about their health and disease, there are still people who ignore all the advice they are given, even though they understand it is in their best interests to follow the advice. Why? This includes me. Thankfully I have always been a fit, healthy person, yet I smoked for many years. Why? I knew it wasn’t benefiting me and my health, was unsociable, expensive etc, yet I didn’t give up smoking for years. Why?

I am generally a calm rational person, yet can still be triggered in a millisecond to feel a wave of white hot anger that wants to take over and make me yell and shout and get attention. Why? And why is it SO difficult to control. Even though I know if I do get angry and allow my anger to control my behaviour, I immediately feel shame and anger with myself – not a nice feeling – so why don’t I learn from it and not do it again?

Also, from my own experiences of myself, from interactions with friends, managing staff, and from my family life, I have observed that people find it hard to name and identify the emotion they are feeling. As people talk to you, it often becomes apparent to them. However they are aware that they are/were feeling ‘out of sorts’ when they behaved in a particular way, but are often unable to articulate why. I don’t believe our culture traditionally has embraced emotions and openly discussed them. Many adults have lots of emotional ‘baggage’ that appears to control their behaviour. I believe they could be free of this burden.

What would you like your next project to be?

I’m genuinely not sure at this stage. Both Beat the Bugs and Use your Noodle were circulating in my head for some time before I took action and started to research and draft them. Although I have some ideas floating around at the moment, there is not that consistent force that I experienced with both of these projects.

Use Your Noodle

Help your children get to know, understand and learn how to manage their emotions in a positive way. 
These are essential life skills that will boost their self-esteem and resilience – topics that are so important in mental health. 
Empower children to make good decisions and be true to themselves.
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Tags: author, children, education, indie author, mental health, parenting, psychology, publishing

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