Don’t believe everything you think.
I don’t believe everything I think.
I have learned that our monkey brains have all kinds of voices and many opinions. Some come from the fear centre of our brain – the amygdala – and its job is to protect us, at all costs. This is when you will hear all the what if’s and oh no’s! These catastrophic thoughts will get our hearts racing in fear but aren’t real.
Then there is our inner critic, which also wants us to be safe at all costs. Take no risks. Be polite. Fit in. Perform at your best – in fact be perfect. It says things like: Don’t ask that, you could sound stupid!
You are a lousy public speaker, don’t take on that presentation, you might really fail and embarrass yourself and the firm.
When we believe these thoughts we stop taking on challenges. We hide and stagnate.
And then there is the judge, which is the inner critic’s take on everyone else.
She looks fat in that dress.
He is clueless.
These thoughts just make us feel superior or guilty for thinking them.
It is a very good thing that we cannot read each others minds!
Yes, it is noisy up there in our noggins and much of it is just that – noise.
The better we can get at observing the action in our head, the more distance we get, and the more room for choice.
Mindfulness is often advocated in a secular context as a practice for reducing stress and getting calm. I like mindfulness as a practice for strengthening my ability to step out of the action and simply notice what I am thinking so I can choose to think again.
This week engage in a simple observation practice: Three times a day, pause, and notice: What is going on in my head right now? What am I experiencing physically? What emotion am I experiencing?