Talking to Your Brain

Note to my future self..

Today I woke up early and spent some time just laying in bed. A couple of seconds after I was conscious that I was awake I realized that my mind just started to rush through a dozen ideas the way it frequently does whenever I wake up or go to sleep. However, this time it was different. I was able to realize that this was starting to happen and I quickly “told” my mind to shut it off. It was not really an internal monologue. It was just a swift internal decision that I made.

The first time I read about this idea of catching your brain doing stupid stuff and telling it to stop was in this book called Solve for Happiness. At the time I thought it was a fascinating idea and one that could yield tremendous benefits. However, I never really got around implementing that idea until now.

For the past week I started using the Headspace again and for the first time ever I’ve meditated for 7 days in a row. I am obviously vulnerable to recency bias here but it feels that I was able to catch my brain going crazy this morning thanks to the exercises that I’ve been doing through Headspace. Although it’s still too early to tell, I do feel that the mindfulness and awareness exercises that you do through the app encourage you to identify and surfaces situations like the one I had today.

I do want to mention that to me this idea of “talking to your brain” (I need a better term for it) is different than self-talk. In my opinion self-talk is an internal monologue that you have with yourself. Think of it as a mind-to-mind conversation. “Talking to your brain”, on the other hand, assumes that your brain and your mind are two different players or entities. It’s like if you’re giving orders to a machine to go do something for you and that machine has no option but to obey (even if it’s not always the case).

The Takeaway

For me the key takeaway is that “talking to your brain” is a skill that can be in fact developed. I think it can come in handy whenever stressful situations arise. If you’re able to realize that your amygdala is going crazy you could tell your brain “hey listen there’s nothing to worry about here” and move on.

I know that this might sound a little bit uhm unorthodox but who cares. I think that the idea of detaching your mind from your brain is super cool and useful!

Now back to work!