The Lies Our Brains Tell Us

What if I acted on every thought that came through my mind? Have you tried that?

Can you guess how many thoughts, on average, cross our minds every day? In 2005, the National Science Foundation published an article on human thoughts. The average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Can you imagine taking an action on every thought that populate our minds? We will literally be running around like “chickens with their heads cut off (which by the way, is no joke- chickens do run around like that!)

Of those thousands of thoughts, it was found in the same research that 80% of the thoughts were negative. In another study at Cornell university in 2005, it was noted that 85% of what we worry about never happens!

Let that sink in!

Yet, we constantly allow our brains to tell us “lies.”

“I am not good enough.” “Why would he want to hang around me?” “I am not as successful as they are.” “I am not going to get this promotion.” “I am no good in this business.” “Negative feelings are good for me, they protect me from bad outcomes.” “I have no friends.” “My boss hates me.”

Sometimes our brains deliver thoughts to us with the misleading lie of calming us down: “No good will come out of speaking your truth, so let’s keep quiet.” “No one can do this as good as I can, so let me show them how it is done so they can learn, appreciate me and even give me a raise.”

What is the lie that your brain is telling you right now? And what is the impact this has made in your life?

If you believe that your brain never tells you lies, a quick test to confirm this hypothesis is to evaluate if you have followed up on your thoughts and if they came true. Assuming you are the average person with thousands of thoughts, most of them negative, reflect how it has impacted your life. Has your stress decreased? Are you calmer? Happier?

Perhaps a more important question to ask is why. Why does our brain produce more negative thoughts that never come to fruition? FEAR is the answer. While we, as humanity progressed from hundreds of years ago, our brain stayed pretty much the same. Fear developed long ago as danger was looming outside of our villages, when humans lived in an uncertainty; what will come next? It has therefore become normal for our human tendency to anticipate what can go wrong rather than what can go right. We have trained ourselves throughout our existence as humans to operate out of fear and less out of love.

So now what can we do? Clearly, we are not living under duress conditions that require us to be on the lookout for danger daily. The lion is no longer hiding outside our village fence in the open forest.

Breathe. You are not in danger. Your brain is telling you something in an attempt to “protect you” because it does not know better. And as a result, these “lies” cause the opposite effect. We are more stressed, less calm.  Anxiety and frustration increase. We suppress our anger, our feelings, yet people trust us less because we do not say what is really on our minds. Our relationships suffer. We are NOT happy.

If this is your story- would you want to change it?

How? What would you do?

Adapt the Sage Perspective. In Positive Intelligence we train our clients that through practice we can train our brains to regard every situation and challenge as a gift and an opportunity. It is called Mental Fitness, the ability to shift the challenges in our lives from something that we dread to something that provides us a gift. A gift of knowledge, a gift of power and a gift of inspiration.

Why wouldn’t we treat our brains just like we treat our bodies? To stay in tip-top shape and thus avoid health problems, we go to the gym, exercise our bodies at least 30 minutes a day, 3-5 days per week. Why would we not give the same attention to our brains? When we work to sharpen our brains to stay calm, laser clear focus in what we do, feeling a sense of positivity, curiosity, love and joy, we tell our brains “We are worth it.” So often when we attend a conference, we hear an inspiring speaker and we say to ourselves, “Wow, that was good.” And then a few weeks go by and we forget. We let this thread of genius fall by the wayside, life seems to go back to normal. Don’t let this be one of these scenarios- this requires the muscle building. Mental muscle building. The more we do, the stronger we become, the less lies we let into our brains.

This is your opportunity- to nip in the bud the lies by creating new neural pathways in your brain that will help you “locate the positivity” that is already embedded within you.

We cannot fight an enemy that we don’t see or know they exist. Exposing the lies gives us a chance at achieving the life we always want, the happiness, calmness, and positivity we desire.

Consider practicing these mental exercises.

Awareness. The first step to making any lasting change is being aware of our mindset. Instead of allowing our brains to rule us, we rule our brain. Not every thought is worth the space given to it. Understand that our thoughts impact our emotions. Our emotions and our thoughts impact our behavior. Our behavior, thoughts and emotions impact our performance, our daily living. And that is in a nutshell our mindset. What would you like your mindset to be?

Intercept and anticipate. If the first step is awareness, the second step is anticipating it and interrupting that cycle. How? By doing PQ reps. I know, I know, I just dropped a concept and a terminology you may not recognize. PQ stands for Positive Intelligence Quotient, and it measures the strength of your positive mental muscles versus the negative. PQ is used in measuring our mental fitness ability. The higher our PQ, the greater predictive measurement of how happy we are, and how well we perform against our potential. The best scenario is to practice PQ at least 15 minutes a day. Here are a few PQ techniques. Breath, connect to the physicality of you. Touch something for a few minutes with your eyes closed, try to really feel it. Listen to faraway sounds, listen to your own breath. Empty your mind. When thoughts come into your mind, acknowledge them and quickly let them go. Think less. It takes practice, don’t give up.

Preempt your mind.  By activating questions that come from the right side of our brains, we allow the exploration stage to widen our “brain vision.” So often we think analytically and rationally. While there is a place for that in our lives, more benefit will be gained by awakening the sage part of our brain, the non-rational part of our being. After a PQ session, try contemplating and asking:

What else do I need to know about me, others and the situation before making any move?

How can I turn this thought into a gift and opportunity?

Can I cultivate empathy toward me, others or the situation when this thought enters my mind?

Can I find curiosity and learn more about the situation which causes me stress and fear?

Can I be creative in exploring other venues/solutions that would bring me joy?

Can I sense/feel the joy that is hidden right now? Can my heart open up to love?

Can I invite my wiser older self into this scenario? What would she tell me? What meaning and purpose can I find?

What actions can I take today to train my brain to expose the lies moving forward? Can I take two actions today?

Stay in the PQ channel. There are two channels of operations we can choose from. The channel located on the rational side of our brain, mostly left brain, which is called the data channel. That side may be good in many respects such as logic and analytics, but our emotions, intuition and the power of persuasion is on the PQ channel, which is located mostly on the right side of our brains.. The more you are in the PQ channel, the more often you will be willing to experience and explore the positivity all around us.

When we go through these steps we arrive at the end results: transformation and self-actualization. The goal: Transforming our fears into our strengths by exposing the lies our brains tell us and revealing the core essence of who we are, our true potential, the champion within!

To Positivity!

Dorice Horenstein