Take a few moments to reflect on all the progress that humans have made since they came into existence some 1-5 million years ago.
Isn’t it astounding?
Countless innovations, theories and creative feats have been achieved across generations. Our species has continued to unfailingly evolve and grow progressively over the years. I believe that all our accomplishments are a testament to our boundless ability to manifest the unseen.
There are numerous creatures on the planet that are much larger and stronger than we are, yet we are the species that has managed to dominate. We have gotten this far because of our incredible ability to adapt to any environment with the help of a tiny yet mighty organ – our brain.
No other living entity on the planet has a brain with a mechanism that is as complex and sophisticated as ours. With over a 100 billion neurons, it enables us to synthesize, organize and memorize information at rapid speeds. If we learn how to use it correctly, we will have direct access to its magical potential.
On the other hand, if you neglect it and fail to enforce any form of discipline, you will have to deal with an animal that’s out of control – that will chew on your furniture and pee on your freshly cleaned carpets!
Similarly, without self-awareness, our thoughts can run astray and bring out the worst in us, and even limit our possibilities. To demonstrate how this can play out in real life, I want you to think of a time in your life when you were dealing with a situation that was particularly perturbing for you because of the stakes involved.
Perhaps you were waiting on a guy or girl you really liked to get back to you after an enjoyable first date. Or perhaps your boss had suddenly started treating you differently in the office. Or your doctor had asked you to take some tests to get a prognosis on something unusual he’s detected in your body.
Like storm clouds filling up a clear sky, scary thoughts of doom and gloom infiltrated your mind. You probably pictured the worst case scenarios you instantly concocted. “Maybe he or she isn’t attracted to me.” “I think my boss is going to fire me.” “Could it be cancer?”
Without the right coping skills, situations like these can send you into overdrive because of your mind’s tendency to create stories based on past patterns. It’s a mechanism that allows us to simplify the overwhelming data in our surroundings, thereby bringing us a sense of control and order.
Ever since we were kids, we have been unknowingly developing our own stories and beliefs about ourselves and the world. If you aren’t getting the results that you want in your life, there is a strong possibility that you are holding on to limiting beliefs that are outdated and out of alignment.
It behooves us to always question our thoughts, especially the ones that are not bringing us the results that we want. This is a critical step because our thoughts determine our actions and our actions, in turn, impact our destiny.
While self-inquiry won’t shield us from unexpected challenges, it will give the power to respond to these challenges in a positive way by choosing thoughts that are constructive and self-preserving.
With the right understanding and patience, we can become the masters of our cerebral domain. Here are specific ways in which we can achieve this:
1. Understand how the human mind works: Our brains work like a marvelous piece of machinery and, if we would like to use it effectively, we should take the time to understand its basic structure and how it processes data. Understand the anatomy of the mind and how different parts of it contribute towards shaping how we think and feel about ourselves and the world. As you learn more about how your mind operates, you’ll develop a new found respect for the role it plays in your life.
2. Examine your current stories and beliefs: Ever since you were a kid, you have crafted a menagerie of stories and beliefs that got stored into the deeper reserves of your mind. You may not be aware of it but a lot of the decisions that you make today are based on these old unexamined beliefs. It will be well worth your time to do a “mental excavation” (preferably with the help of a therapist or coach) to weed out any limiting ways of thinking that need to be replaced with more empowering ones.
3. Always question your thoughts: The process of becoming more aware will require you to take on the role of a gatekeeper of your mind. This role gives you the responsibility of monitoring and scanning your thoughts so that you can discern which ones deserve your energy and focus and which ones do not. I like to use the questions from Dr. Phil McGraw’s litmus test whenever I find myself struggling with a particularly agitating thought.
4. Watch your information diet: Just as we need to feed our bodies with nutritious foods, we should be nourishing our minds with high quality information. We’re bombarded with so much “mental junk food” in the media that it will require a concerted effort on our part to prevent it from infiltrating our consciousness. We should instead seek out knowledge and wisdom that can help us grow and become a better person. Look out for books, blogs, role models or anything inspirational that can guide you.
5. Be aware of the mind-body connection: Our bodies are a composite of biochemicals, which have a direct impact on our physiology as well as our mental processes. Research has consistently shown that our lifestyles have a direct impact on the quality of our thoughts. Following a regular fitness regime, consuming a healthy diet and getting sufficient rest are a couple of key healthy habits that will enhance our brain function.
You are the artist of your life, holding the brush of destiny. You always have the power to create a beautiful masterpiece within the landscape of your inner world.
All my best on your journey,
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