A dangerous neighborhood

Your mind is a dangerous neighborhood to visit and you should never venture into it alone for very long.

We are not in control of our brains and the sooner we accept this, the better off we will be. Our brains have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years with a singular purpose and that is to keep us safe. We like to think that we are use our brains and that because we are self-aware, we make conscious decisions about our lives...but that it really far from true. Our actions are far too often the results of the chemicals released by our brains in response to external stimuli. So in reality, our brains are in charge of our body and we are oftentimes just along for the ride.

It doesn't have to be that way but it requires focus and hard work for it to be otherwise. In fact, the brain (on average) represents only 2% of a person's total body weight but requires 20% of the resting body calories each day. This brain is also ruthlessly efficient when it comes to preserving energy so you will be fighting this battle as well because additional or "new" thinking requires more energy. This is why we actually feel drained when we do intellectual heavy lifting and also why we might shy away from it so often.

Consider the following the next time you want to "think about it":

  • Reflect do not ruminate. One is required for learning and growth, the other is a cycle of despair. The line between them is nebulous so pay attention. When it comes to this, my favorite saying is "Don't think less of yourself just think of yourself less." The main issue with being inside your own head is that we make up stories that fill in the blanks in our knowledge and this is far from helpful. When we are faced with challenges, we create narratives that keep us safe...regardless of how outrageous they might be and that is far from helpful. If you would like to delve deeper, try this from Psychology Today or this from Berkeley Science Review.

  • Get to know your brain. Dig into some of the current neuroscience research so you can know your enemy. I can't stress enough that your brain is not your on your side in terms of living up to your potential (personally or professionally). Your brain seeks homeostasis which means it will avoid risk/novelty at every turn. For more on this, you can check out this YouTube channel what has great 2 minute videos on all things neuroscience. I might also recommend this video on the brain's executive function and/or this one how what happens when you pay attention.

  • Understand the chemical wonderland of your emotions. Nothing will prohibit or propel our success in life as much as our ability to leverage our emotional state. Emotions are great indicators for us but they should not drive our actions! We have to understand that our brains are releasing chemicals and these chemicals will cause certain reactions from us that are autonomous UNLESS we engage intellectually and don't just go along from the ride. Here are two great articles from Psychology Today and Harvard Business Review. You can also visit Six Seconds (International EQ Network) as they offer a myriad of tools and assessments that will assist you on this journey.

These are just a few small steps you can take so ensure the your next visit to inside the echo chamber is more productive. Just remember that your brain is there for one reason and one reason only...to keep you safe. It is not there to ensure you are a solid citizen, great leader, wonderful partner, or loving parent. If you want to be any of these, you have to stop letting your brain have free reign!

The Rebel versus The Architect

Create space