The brain, our final frontier?
Feels like it sometimes.
Our mind seems to have a life on its own – it regulates our schedules, our actions, our interactions; and ultimately gets to set the tone for how our days will be like.
What a responsibility! An unfair one if you ask me.
It’s not reasonable to expect from an organ, as almighty as it may be, to decide what makes or breaks our days (and our lives).
Yet, we have been giving it our carte blanche for so long, the only idea of doing anything without it would create distress.
Rightfully so; because the brain is our biggest ally when it comes to planning and learning and projecting.
But it ain’t an ally when we have made it our comfort zone, where life is all ‘talk’ and ‘no walk’.
Let’s change that! – Use these 3 questions as a starter point.
# 1 – what’s in it for me?
Many of us have been brought up and educated to be intellectualizers.
The rationale behind what we do, the how/when/who – we have it mostly nailed down, we have rehearsed the process to the point that we can feel comfortable carrying on the same old same old, as long as it works.
We make decisions after pros and cons, weighing risks and rewards, then deciding on the next course of action.
And then at times, we get stuck there; in the mental regurgitations.
We decide that this action is a no-go; then back to square one of rehashing the same data or searching for new ones, to confirm we were right to not move; rinse and repeat this intellectual process, it becomes a habit that we rationalize as ‘that’s my way of doing things’, even if it’s quite obvious it’s not working anymore.
There is nothing glorious about being stuck in a mental loop – because it tends to feed itself until something happens (sometimes a crisis) to get us out of it. We don’t need to wait to be pushed!
When you see yourself in that loop, ask yourself what is keeping you there and what is your brain trying to protect from- in other words: ‘what’s in it for me?’ – it may involve a variation of fear of change, fear of failure, of success and the likes.
Added benefit: increased self-awareness.
# 2 – is it helpful?
Yes, the brain can keep us stuck, but all in, it’s a multi-talented machine that’s worth befriending, if anything, for those so many functions it wants to accomplish with mastery.
In its strive to give us the big picture, the brain wants to be comprehensive – what does it do? it recalls first our personal history and experience; then the massive amount of data it has gathered over time.
You can only imagine the task and the responsibility!
So how does the mind manage to do it all?
According to John Grinder and Richard Bandler, fathers of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), the brain tends to:
- generalize what might have been only anecdotal,
- delete what it feels is not important and,
- distort an objective reality to suits its own narrative…
Well, hello to limiting beliefs and all sorts of mental biases!
But let’s not beat our brains up. They are our engines of creativity and manifestation here on Earth.
So when they go into craycray ‘what if’/ ‘if only’, they are trying to tell us something. The question is: what?
If too many theoretical iterations and what ifs are showing up: you may be in that zone of analysis/paralysis.
Time to question those thoughts: is this helpful? What is it trying to show me?
From there, you can decide on your next course of action.
# 3 – what needs to happen?
So now we’re going deeper and talking real stuff!
When we ask what needs to happen, we tap into one of the mind’s zones of genius: the creative problem-solver / solution-finder.
Be ready to be surprised with the number of possibilities that this mighty organ will start offering you.
Be also prepared to put a stop to when it goes too far (remember it can love that too!).
That new action that you want to take needs to be realistic and within reason. Otherwise, it’s not much more than a new intellectual puff of smoke.
Perhaps it’s a good time to revisit those goals?
P.S.: If none of the above is working, here is one tip that almost never fails: go back into your body – do something that refocuses your attention back on the present moment – something you can physically do (vs the thinking!).
Grab a tea, call a friend, play with your pet or look outside from the window. Find your own version of pattern interrupting those endless thoughts!