When our brain misinterprets the world, it can create over-anxiety or over-confidence. In my book Daily Calm I suggest imagining one side of your brain deals in facts and the other in stories. Ask ‘And what are the facts?’ to get a more realistic perspective, which is usually easier to handle.
Your brain interprets what’s going on. That’s an essential survival skill we’re born with. But our interpretations aren’t always right and sometimes they mistakenly add unnecessary negativity to your day.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that when you’re in a bad mood your view of events, of the day, of people differs from what you would see if you had just got some good news. If you’ve been thinking angry thoughts you feel less tolerant of the mistakes of others than if you’re in a chilled-out mood.
So it’s helpful to be mindful about what ‘spin’ your mind is putting on events and feelings so that you can take a mental step back from its exaggerated stories.
The mind weaves its theories about what’s happening even in the absence of facts (maybe especially in the absence of facts): ‘My team leader hasn’t got back to me about that idea I emailed her (fact); she must hate it so much she can’t be bothered to talk to me about it (story).’ Worse, you may now react to your story by resenting her: ‘Who does she think she is anyway?’
One way to avoid this pointless sequence is to seek facts by asking her for her response. Another is to remember that the mind has a tendency to fill empty space with speculation – and bringing attention to what’s going on in the real world around you, even a little mindful breathing, is more helpful than speculation.
My online course, Easy Mindfulness, can help you learn techniques for taking a step back from your thoughts and for relating well to the reality of your world. My book “Daily Calm – 100 daily reminders to help you build the mindfulness habit” can set you on the right path each day.
Image by Nick Fewings
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