Did you know that your brain uses 20% of the energy in your body? It’s processing, interpreting, organizing and messaging other systems all of the time. 20% may not seem like much, but it’s actually the body part that uses the highest amount of energy. In order to maintain and perform at its peak, it needs to ensure all systems are running perfectly. If one thing is off, too much or too little, then it needs to compensate and adjust to cover for the overage or underage. When your brain is processing, interpreting and organizing your thoughts and emotions, it does so in seconds. According to Lisa Feldman Barrett, Neuroscientist and Psychologist, your brain is “busily making predictions.” It uses “all its available information (your memory, your situation, the state of your body) to take guesses about what will happen in the next moment.” It’s processing and interpreting the experience and searching for similar experiences for its next best response. What happens if the response from the previous experience is one you rather avoid? Or what if it’s time to step out of the box and try a new response? Our brain is always learning and creating new pathways to respond to our environment in the most efficient way. Your mission is to learn and create more awareness around why you act or react the way you do? why some situations lead to emotions you wish you could control?
Starting your mission to increase your awareness and emotional intelligence growth doesn’t have to be complex or difficult. With intention and determination, you can start as soon as today.
Create space in your day for a few mindfulness moments, it could be between meetings, at lunch or on a coffee break. Take a short walk, find a quiet corner, or even sit in your car. Create a quiet space to think and breath, with no interruptions. Start with 3 deep breaths to settle down your mind. Then begin to breath normally focusing on the breath. As other thoughts, ideas or distractions appear let them go and return to observing your breath. You have to be intentional about this, your brain will want to sneak in thoughts and distractions. After a few minutes, ask yourself about your day so far, what you’ve noticed? What emotions have surfaced? What was happening around you? There are no right or wrong answers here, it’s just to begin creating awareness.
The reflective moments will help you begin to notice your emotions. You may want to change some of them, replace them with others, maybe avoid them altogether. Which brings you to a second step. Setting up intentional actions to create a new response, behavior or action for yourself. With your mindfulness practices you’ve identified specific situations that cause the emotions? Is it a particular experience? a place? a sound? a person? Decide what you would like your new response to be, get specific. Don’t leave it up to chance, set up a reminder for yourself, be intentional about creating this new response. When life happens, our brain goes into action, directly to the path it knows from experience, and until you replace it with the with new one it would consider it as part of the process. During your next mindful moment, reflect on how it’s going? Are there adjustments that need to be made? Are you ready to step it up?
Don’t rush, take your time, small steps to set yourself up for success. By taking the time to create this awareness and challenging yourself to new and more thought-out behaviors and actions you are actively participating in the process of creating new experiences with your brain. You are working as the architect and your brain is executing based on the responses you are designing.