Early last week I got a desperate text from my youngest child. It read “I don’t want to” 8 times and “I’m afraid of the ball.” (Lacrosse balls are hard!) She was referring to the lacrosse try-outs that were scheduled for that day. She’s in 8th grade and was trying out for the high school junior varsity team. So, a bit intimidating for her. However, reading her message, I got a vivid flashback from her at age 8, crying the exact same words right before a violin performance. It was deja vu and I knew she wasn’t just afraid of the ball, it was performance anxiety. It was a repeat of an old pattern. Easy to see this in other people….hard to see it in yourself. Your brain doesn’t want you to make it change paradigms or think bigger.
Most of what we know about the brain these days has been published since 2000. (If you love this topic, sharpbrains.com is an excellent resource.) At Mixonian, you can read about your brain at the “explaining to a golden retriever” level.
The brain is complicated. And that’s an understatement. It is magnificent.
It’s also a bit lazy.
It’s primary purpose is to protect you and help you survive. Normally your brain will not encourage you to take risks, to learn new skills or exercise a higher level of discipline. It will encourage you to avoid growing through your problems by eating too much, shopping too much or doing too much.
So how doesn one outsmart one’s brain?
First you have to realize that you can take your thinking process off of autopilot….but that’s not going to happen unless you decide.
You do this by becoming Sherlock Holmes and observing your thoughts.
What am I thinking about now?
What was I thinking about just now?
What actions do I take when I think like that?
What would be a better thing to think about right now?
For the next few days, observe the things you think about. Mostly we think the same thoughts over and over again. To stop thinking a certain way you insert something that will disconnect the pattern.
Instead of thinking, what a stupid jerk, ask yourself, why do I find this so interesting?
Instead of berating yourself for something, think, that’s fascinating how I just did that!
Awareness is your friend. Experiment with observing your thoughts this week and let us know what happens.