My name is Ike. I am a writer. I drink way too much herbal tea and believe in the power of kindness, love and a good book.

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Nigerian Slangs || The Art of Giving Yourself Brain

Nigerian Slangs || The Art of Giving Yourself Brain

One day, in the not too distant future, you will have to sit across the table from yourself—your fine, fine self—*catcall* and decisively correct your wrongs; making a conscious decision to improve your lifestyle practices and motivating yourself to be a better person. This action, is what is referred to in Nigerian lingo as “giving yourself brain”. It is a mental jerk that improves the quality of our lives, after a stark realization of the gloominess of a situation we've come to find ourselves in. Like the Prodigal son, this is the part we call it quits on being mediocre and exit the pigsty. 

The first time I heard the expression, 'give yourself brain', my brother used it in describing his decision to move on from a futile situation (which might have involved a girl) and subsequently he would say it to me and to his friends on matters that required our proactive attention. He’d say it in English “Give yourself brain”, Pidgin English “Omo, make you give yourself brain o” and Yoruba, “Omo, fun ara ni brain. Lol! There he was, telling everyone to practice this skill he had so mastered- the skill of self-correction. The skill of "giving one’s self brain".

While I was still on Dating Boulevard, I failed to give myself brain sometimes. The great thing though, was that I would eventually do it. I’d make a good decision; do the right thing and choose to fall in or out of love. Recently, I had to give myself brain again. As of last month, I was a very devout procrastinator, the world was mine and the world could wait. Well, update on that, I gave myself brain and...brain has been received. I spent sometime “reprimanding” myself in the proper way we discussed in this post and I’m much better for it. 

Before that though, I went through the process of realizing a change was needed, just like the prodigal son did (he, by the way, is the star-boy of brain-giving).

He started off with a blunder which landed him in a not-too-ideal situation. There were pigs involved *blink* Usually, self-correction is initiated by a trigger (in his case, the icky pigs and the awareness that he had hit rock-bottom); then came the giving-himself-brain bit; then the active part of getting up and doing something about his situation; followed by his journey home— to the place he wanted to be and then the party! Recap: There’s the trigger, the realization, the brain-giving, the action, the journey and arrival. The Partay! The obvious benefit of actively choosing to change your situation, of course, is getting yourself from a place of discontentment to place where you enjoy the benefits of this wonderful readjustments you’ve made.

Another benefit though, is attaining that sexy sweet spot of humility, sitting across yourself from a table and correcting your own faults to your face is pretty life-changing. You just made yourself a confidant and you are listening to the inner voice, which hopefully is the Holy Spirit.

Correction is something wise people enjoy, so says the bible. Fools, not so much.  I love the opportunity to completely goof off, fall off the wagon, pout and then “arise, and give myself brain.”

The place of external motivation such as mentors, books, podcasts, articles, “instamotivation” images can not be emphasized enough. They serve as great triggers but when it comes down it, the final decision to act, lies with us.

We all know the right thing to do in most situations, or at least, we kind-of know; the honorable, albeit, difficult thing —whether it’s choosing to ask for forgiveness like the prodigal son, or choosing to take the higher road, leaving a dysfunctional relationship, falling in love or out of it or choosing not to procrastinate. Whatever it is, every breath is an opportunity to right our wrongs, do the right thing and give ourselves brains. I just did. Let’s have a party!

Action: Decide where you want to be, write out actionable steps to get there. Act out these steps now. No excuses. Now! 

Have you ever heard/used this slang?  Are you having a "party" soon? Speaking of parties, we hosted thanksgiving for the first time. Read here! My friend, Tope wrote a piece on Nigerian slangs here.

Illustration by Dare Somade.

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