Your Brian: Your Most Powerful Ally and Your Most Destructive Enemy
The brain is just an organ in your body. Just like your liver, your heart, or your stomach it has a specific job to do.
The brain’s job is to put edges on things. Period. (Yeah O.K. there are different parts of the brain and some of them do all sorts of other stuff like regulate your heart rate and hormones etc. but for practical purposes it might be useful just to think about your brain’s job as simply to define things- or put edges on things.)
This is your greatest tool and your most destructive parasite depending on when you choose to use it.
Have you ever finally made a decision that you feel 100% great about after a period of uncertainty? Didn’t that feel wonderful to finally have resolution and be able to move forward? Didn’t it feel like you suddenly had much more energy and things started to flow again?
This is an example of you using your brain as a tool. You put edges around reality so that you could focus your energy for a specific purpose.
Haven’t you also had the experience of feeling frustrated by things not working; like everything you were doing just made things worse but you felt a compulsion to keep going because it was the only thing you knew how to do at that moment? Didn’t that feel terrible? Like you were trapped in a tunnel of frustration and anxiety and nothing you did seemed to bring you closer to getting out?
This is an example of your brain using you. You kept acting on the edges that your brain had already put around reality even when those edges no longer brought you the result you wanted.
So what to do? The quality of your life is mostly determined by how well you develop these 2 skills:
1) The skill of putting useful edges around reality
2) The skill of taking away all edges around reality
The faster that you can switch between the two, the more flexibility in living you have and the more accurate the edges you create will be. This is resistance training and acceptance training simultaneously. Learning how to quickly assess a situation, know what you want and start taking action when that is appropriate, and also learning to quickly let go of all previous edges when what you are doing stops working and you need updated information about a situation (ie. a reality check).
How do you know when to do which? Whenever you feel less than great might be a good starting point (ie whenever you feel like shit). Your emotions can act as a warning to either put some edges on things and start moving or to take all the edges away so you can hit the reset button on your mental map before you redefine things.
These are skills you can practice everyday. Life will bring you continual opportunities to practice these 2 skills whether you want them or not.