It is a beautiful day and you are feeling joy in your heart. You are outside riding your bike down the country road, enjoying all around you the beauty as you hear the birds singing and feel a light wind blowing. The warmth from the sun shines on your face as you breath in the clean, fresh air. Then from out of nowhere you hit a huge pothole and fall off your bike hitting the pavement with an abrupt force. As you try to break your fall, your knee ends up taking the brunt of it all and is now bleeding and scraped by the rough asphalt. You’re laying on the side of the road, crying holding your knee and feeling excruciating pain.
Now what images came to your mind as you read this opening paragraph? Could you imagine it being a beautiful day riding your bike? Just by reading those words could you see it? Could you feel the sun, smell the air, see yourself on the bike? When I described the fall and the hitting of the knee, could you feel it? Could you actually feel the pain? That my friend is just how powerful our brains are.
We can be sitting in our home cuddled up with a good book and feel every emotion, see every event in our mind as we are reading the words from the pages. One reason an avid reader would say that the movie wasn’t as good as the book was the detail and images that their mind was creating can’t even compare to that on the big screen. Our mind is absolutely amazing! A favorite movie of mine is A Beautiful Mind with Russell Crow. The idea that this character was seeing something he believed to be absolutely real was enthralling to me. To his mind, it was just as real as if he were standing in a room talking to someone. That is powerful, and we my friends have that kind of power.
So, here is my question to you for today: How do you, or can you, outsmart your own thoughts?
One of the biggest challenges in life can be getting clear on what it is you want. We have a potpourri of options and decisions to make on a daily basis. One thing I have to remind myself of daily is that my brain was designed for survival.
Imagine walking on a trail and suddenly spotting a snake. It would not serve you to analyze if you should be scared or not. It is a good thing that we have that knee jerk reaction that it might be dangerous. That built-in reaction could save your life. This instinctual ability to know when something is frightening is born in your limbic system; I call this “autopilot,” and it keeps us safe. However, it is also what makes growth so challenging as it wants us to stay in our comfort zones. Reminding our brains that we are in charge of our own thoughts is truly the challenge. This is where we need to remind our brains to activate the creation area of our prefrontal cortex in order to stretch and grow and move outside of our comfort zones.
My autopilot is always wanting to keep me safe. It wants me to figure out the easiest route to get out of a tough situation based on what I already know. Such maxims as “have the courage to face the fear and do it anyways” are ways to help remind our mind that we are in charge and not to follow its natural instinct to run just because something is hard or scary. Taking a moment to write thoughts down can make a difference in helping our beautiful minds sort out what is real and what is not.
I leave you with this thought about the movie A Beautiful Mind. The professor, once he was shown that his thoughts where thoughts and not real people, found ways to cope and even found humor in his disease. People outside him could not tell him how to solve his problem, but being open and honest made it so his life was not just bearable, but enjoyable. That is why clients work with me. I will show you your thinking. Then you get to decide.