Many of us find that whilst we know academically what we need to do, to get what we want, we don’t do it.
We know that if we follow a healthy eating regime consistently we will lose weight. We know that if we exercise we will likely feel better and have more energy and feel less stressed.
Whilst we may want something ‘really badly’ we often do not take the seemingly simple steps to get it. Whilst our behaviour patterns are complex we can start to understand them when we consider the following three aspects of mind management.
First, we should consider that we have more than one brain and two of them are frequently in conflict.
Have you found yourself being offered a gorgeous cake when you are trying to follow a healthy eating regime? Whether or not you decide to eat the cake or say ‘no thank you’ depends on which brain you listen to.
Your lower brain is the oldest part of the brain. In fact, it’s prehistoric and even fish have something similar. Your lower brain doesn’t think or reason, it simply focuses on keeping you alive by initiating powerful impulses for anything it thinks you need to live—including food.
Your higher brain is the most recent part of the brain, emerging only 2 or 3 million years ago and only found in primates. It is sometime called the ‘prefrontal cortex.
You higher brain is the home of your logical reasoning skills, your ability to make conscious choices, and your capacity to make voluntary movements.
While your lower brain can send out pre-programmed orders to eat or die, it’s your higher brain that decides whether you follow through.
Secondly, we can explore that decisions that follow repeated patterns, ‘habits’ are far easier to follow than new ones. If you have a history of always saying yes to the cupcake, making that decision is like a very well worn, trampled path in a jungle, it seems like the only route – and quite possibly you may have eaten the cupcake before you realised an alternative path existed. The first time you take the new path its rather tricky and you must navigate all sorts of obstacles – but the more you take it, the clearer that path becomes and the easier it gets.
Thirdly, whilst our actions determine our results, it is our feelings that drive our actions and our thoughts that drive our feelings. Hence, we need to examine our thoughts when we want to change our actions and results. Examining our thoughts takes practice and time to perfect but once you’ve mastered the art it can become a very quick and simple strategy to help us get what we truly want.
I help my clients understand and apply these basic aspects of mind management as I work through my programs with them.