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Would You Date Your Brain?

Use the 'Mental Swipe' to improve your mental health

Posted February 14, 2023 · 9 min read

The dating industry in the UK alone generates approximately £11.7 billion.

There's a price to pay for being human, with plenty willing to pay. And if you’re familiar with dating apps – you know all about the ‘swipe’.

Simply swipe right on a persons profile picture to express interest or left to reject them.

That idea is genius (and it’s made dating apps a fortune!) – instead of spending hours reading strangers profiles and ‘wasting time’ getting to know people, you can see more potential matches in a fraction of the time.

Amazing isn’t it?

But while the swipe on the surface seems innocent, it can be malicious: giving you the power to reduce another person to a single movement of the finger.

Suddenly you’re not using critical thinking (facts, evidence, observations, and arguments to judge) or executive functioning (how to solve problems), both of which are incredibly helpful for your mental health.

Instead, you’re relying on an automatic reaction in an attempt to assess another persons worth.

Given how little we have been conditioned to appreciate others by apps and social media. And with society in general having grown accustomed to getting everything instantly and on-demand. It's no wonder that many people are quick to reject themselves. 

The desire for instant responses and expectations of immediacy, mixed with an inability to delay gratification have made me feel that some have assumed a relationship with their mental health in the same way.

Your relationship with the experience of life cannot be simplified down to basic laws and equations. But, if life/mental health issues are spoken or written about in an abstract way, they can be difficult to relate to.

We need to be creative, so! humor me and consider how you think about your mental health in terms of dating.

After all, your relationship with your mind and body is just that: a relationship. You are who you are because of the way your brain interprets and allows you to act in the world.

I'm curious: "would you swipe left or right if you saw your brain on a dating app?"

If the response is left/reject, you may need to work on on your relationship with your brain!

The Mental Swipe

Imagine having the ability to ‘swipe’ thoughts to reject some and accept others. Think of how much mental time, effort and energy you’d save!

I call it doing a ‘Mental Swipe’.

Doing a mental swipe is a simple: take a single thought you have, then imagine swiping left/reject on the thoughts that you don’t want to pay attention to. While swiping right/accept thoughts that you want to pay attention to. 

Easier said than done right?

Swiftly swiping on others is easy, but doing the same thing to your thoughts is considerably more difficult and not a simple equation.

As it should be! we're talking about you here - the relationship with yourself is much more important (and harder to reject/dismiss) than some stranger you've never met!

So how can you practice building a relationship with your brain?

Don't Hate the Player - Hate the Brain

Your brain won’t respond to negativity – don’t think of the colour PINK.


Your brain gives you signals intended to keep you alive and safe (yes, even anxiety!). 

But because your brain chatters so much, it's difficult to separate the meaningful signals (important information) from the irrelevant noise (rubbish).

Most of the time your brain is just being your brain. Instead of judging the thoughts or hating your brain for having them, it’s helpful to learn to respond differently as even the 'negative' ones serve a function.

A useful tip is to avoid labelling any thought as positive or negative as this causes an automatic urge to eliminate the negative and increase the positive. However - a thought is only positive or negative when you label it as such.

Instead, try labelling thoughts as ‘helpful’ or 'unhelpful' instead of attempting to force being positive and not negative all the time (because no relationship is perfect! including the one with yourself). 

That way you can choose to pay attention to what is helpful and unhelpful, Even if a thought is unhelpful - you can focus on what a more helpful version of the thought might look like.

Then do a ‘Mental Swipe’.

‘Swipe Left’ on Your Brains Cliché Chat-Up Lines

The average human brain has around 86 billion neurons which generate on average 6200 thoughts per day – now imagine getting messages from 6200 potential dates!

Doesn’t that sound stressful?

One of the tricks to ‘good mental health’ is learning and understanding what to pay attention to and what not to.

The odds are really stacked against you if you try to pay attention to or control all your thoughts. You’d be like a mental gambler attempting to beat the system by gambling your mind and losing it!

Thoughts aren’t facts. And not every thought requires your attention.

Your unhelpful thinking patterns are like bad chat up lines or copy/pasted messages that you’ve probably heard a million times.

Eventually…don’t those messages get boring?

Part of the reason you're bored is that the message has no value.

And this 'bored' response, is what you want to practice as a response to the unhelpful thoughts if they have no value.

The unhelpful thoughts are a boring copy/pasted message. The thought is a time waster! a mental player! any relationship with it isn’t going anywhere.

Becoming aware of your ‘automatic thoughts’ and ‘cognitive distortions’ develops your abilities to work out what thoughts to pay attention to or dismiss.

‘Automatic thoughts’ are as the name suggests – the instant thoughts that pop into your head in response to triggers. Automatic thoughts are prone to distorting and misinterpreting information.

So for example, you may think you're a terrible person for making a simple mistake.

When you try to control or react to all your thoughts, you'll often feel anxiety. Because after having the thought a consequence gets attached to it. So making a simple mistake turns into I'm a terrible person and everyone dislikes me.

These false meanings and consequences create exaggerated or irrational thought patterns, known as 'cognitive distortions'.

You may have heard of some of your brain's greatest hits! such as 'all-or-nothing thinking', 'fortune telling', and 'catastrophizing' (see more 'here').

Both your automatic thoughts and cognitive distortions create unrealistic beliefs about yourself that often cause anxiety.

It can be helpful when having a disturbing thought ask yourself: ‘where is the evidence?’ and answer honestly and factually: not emotionally.

Because most thoughts aren't founded on reality, this helps you develop the ability to respond to, assess, and re-examine them (a type of 'critical thinking').

You cannot control what thoughts come into your head, but can control your response to them with practice: to pay attention to them or to dismiss.

Develop an awareness of your automatic thoughts and cognitive distortions so that you can ignore them like you would a bad chat up line. And focus on the more helpful thoughts.

Then do a ‘Mental Swipe’.

First Impressions

Can a first message really tell you everything you need to know about a person?

(Well…suppose it depends on the message!)

In the relationship with your brain, the automatic thought is like a first impression.

Sure, first impressions are important, but you rarely form a solid opinion about someone after only one meeting.

Automatically accepting one of your automatic thoughts about yourself without evidence/analysis is like judging someone after that single comment/message.

You wouldn't agree to a date based on a single message/comment, would you? So why should you accept a single thought as truth?

You want to get to know the thoughts better before deciding whether they're worth your attention.

Not basing your decision on first impressions of thoughts, whether ‘positive or 'negative'.

Get to know the automatic thoughts and cognitive distortions. And most of them will fall to pieces when faced with an evidence-based argument.

Then do a ‘Mental Swipe’.

There is always some madness in love. But there is also some reason in madness

Friedrich Nietszche

Don't Be A 'Mental Bencher'

‘Benching’ is holding onto multiple date options. People might bench someone because they’re not their first, second or maybe even third choice…but will keep them on the bench just in case.

But holding onto too many options can result in a choice paralysis.

Having too much choice can lead to being overwhelmed, increase anxiety and turn an empowering process (having options) to a debilitating process (overwhelmed from having too many options).

Now imagine doing the same with your thoughts – holding on to too many at once.

There are only so many things your brain can pay attention to at once (five at maximum). 

Your brain is a monotasker – it likes doing one thing at a time!

Multitasking on the mind bench will lead only choice paralysis, while learning to let go of thoughts one at a time instead of keeping them on the bench will help you make healthier decisions.

Little Less (Mental) Conversation, Little More Action

All the aggravation from thoughts ain’t satisfactioning you.

As Elvis (probably) would agree - your unhelpful thoughts will talk…a lot. And this mental chatter will get in the way of your actions.

Your thoughts, emotions and behaviours are all inter-connected: your thoughts influence your emotions, your emotions influence your behaviour, your behaviour influences your thoughts and so on. 

Your interpretation of your experience will blur the boundaries between thought and emotion. Changing one, it influences the others (‘cognitive triangle').

You cannot control what comes into your head (thought), but you can learn to control your response to it (behaviour). Which can influence how you feel.

A useful technique is to learn to respond to your thoughts using actions, instead of just thinking about thoughts - this can be empowering and give you more a sense of control than rumination.

Imagine you’re messaging someone who keeps texting over and over without ever actually meeting them.

Sure you can imagine what they might be like in person (thought) - but it can’t become a meaningful relationship without meeting them (action).

Your brain is like this: it will repeat itself, giving you the same thought chat over and again, but nothing will change unless you change your actions.

It can be helpful setting a time limit – say 5 minutes to focus on a thought. Don't try to force being positive or negative - simply allow your mind to go wild for 5 minutes as you consider all the meanings and possibilities that this thought creates.

Then after 5 minutes ask yourself: ‘Can I control it?’ and ‘Can I change it?’

If the answers are yes, then make the changes! If you don’t the thoughts and feelings won’t change.

But if the answers are no, understand that no amount of thought, whether for 5 minutes, 5 hours, or 5 days, will likely change that ‘no’ into a ‘yes’.

Always be kind to yourself, but when a troublesome thought comes to mind remind yourself you can’t control it, or change it. Instead focus on what you can control and change.

Then do a ‘Mental Swipe’.

Don't 'Thought Stalk'

It can be very tempting to google someone to find out more about them…instead of getting to know them.

(...You’ve totally done it right?)

But this can lead to endlessly checking over and over. The anxiety can build as you create scenarios about who they might be instead of getting to know who they are.  

Overthinking is like doing the same thing to your brain!

You’re thought stalking!

Generally speaking, the less you think about yourself, the happier you'll be. Practice to become less ‘egocentric’ by noticing how often you say the words like: 'I', 'My', 'Mine' or 'Me'.

You could have even thought to yourself, "I don't think about myself that much," but ah-ha! You said 'I'".

But have you ever noticed how peaceful your mind is when it is still and quiet?

The truth of reality is not your interpretation alone. And you do not have to bear the burden of all of life’s problems.

Don’t stalk your brain – but instead recognise the only place you will ever find peace is in the present moment. The less you dwell on words like: 'I', 'My', 'Mine' or 'Me' the more you’ll find peace.

Then do a ‘Mental Swipe’.

Would You Date Your Brain?

People are really interested in finding someone to fall in love with, but they do not love themselves.

(I’m a therapist, you knew I was going to tell you to love yourself eventually!). 

There is an idea of a flower – that if you truly love it, you will not pick it. Because love is about appreciation, not possession.

When you don't understand or fear something, it's easy to pass judgement and not appreciate it.  

And far too often, people judge themselves on the mistaken belief that they know themselves.

Life is a never-ending catalogue of secrets, and this mystery is part of what it is to be human - you can never truly know yourself as you are constantly changing. And sometimes you’ll dislike parts of yourself you’ll discover.

People are attracted to each other's strengths, but relationships grow when they are balanced with each other's weaknesses. The relationship with yourself is no different.

Accept helpful thoughts, dismiss the cognitive distortions, and have the insight to recognize the difference between the two.

Use the mental swipe to build a relationship with yourself by responding in a meaningful way.

And after one day, you might consider swiping right on your brain.

Getting Started

To arrange an appointment, you can email me at or contact the First Psychology Services Team on 0141 404 5411.


Andrew Kidd

Senior Psychological Therapist MBACP (Accred) | EMDR Europe Accredited Practitioner

0141 404 5411


The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of other persons/organisations working in partnership with Andy Kidd Counselling. This blog provides general information and discussions about health and related subjects. All liability concerning actions taken or not based on the contents of this site are hereby expressly disclaimed. The information and other content provided or any linked materials should not be construed as advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional psychological treatment.