We Think Wrong

Before I start I want to make it clear I am no expert in what I am going to write about, these are my experiences and something I wanted to share…

I’ve spent the last 4 years on a tough, challenging and yet exceptionally rewarding journey. I’ve found out things about the human psyche and the way the mind works that baffle me, I have stumbled upon mindfulness, yoga, meditation, CBT and basic psychology. I have been told things about my personality and ‘the way I am’ that make perfect sense (now). I have been mentally liberated to handle what life as a successful businessman throws at me.

And it’s a good job I did learn all of this, I really think I was pushing myself into an early grave, being belligerent and bloody minded and having a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude. Of course I still have some of these traits and don’t want to lose them, but I have the ability to look at it, make a sound judgment and then make the decision.

What I learnt from my research into mindfulness, the way the mind works and sessions with my CBT practitioner was some fundamentals into how the body works, stuff that has been ingrained into us from our caveman days. You’ve probably all heard the ‘fight or flight’ response where our body injects adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream, pushes blood to our muscles and prepares us to run or to fight. This was all done back in the day for us to bugger off when a sabre tooth tiger turned up, nowadays we have our own versions of sabre tooth tigers and it’s perfectly natural to feel like we want to run away. However, once you can understand these signals, manage them and thank them for looking after you, you can make much better decisions based on clarity and logic rather than a temporary chemical imbalance.

you can make much better decisions based on clarity and logic rather than a temporary chemical imbalance.

I also realised that your brain is more susceptible to thinking itself out of harms way, it makes people scared of heights, makes people terrified of spiders and makes people less likely to take risks. There are only a small handful of people in this world who will jump off a mountain in a ‘bat suit’ or will walk unaided on the top of a crane 100’s of feet above the ground. These people I guess have either no amygdala (the fear part of the brain) or have worked out how to stop or manage their ‘fear’ process. One of the most important lines I learnt on my journey was that ‘they are only thoughts’, when I first heard this I thought, yes, so what, big deal… but the more I used this line, the better everything got. Because they are just thoughts, our brain making assumptions based on its protective predisposition, irrational, unhelpful, not necessarily true and habitual. Your brain is desperately trying to protect you and to mother you, it will do everything in its power to keep you away from harm (or what it thinks is harmful)

The challenge I think is to be more flexible with your thinking, to be able to question your thoughts and why it’s thinking the way it is. Are your thoughts fact or your opinion? Are the decisions you are making based upon the reality of the situation or from your state of mind at the time? Rather than jumping to the first thought that springs to mind you have to evaluate, refine and then respond.

I spent too much time in the future, asking myself ‘what if’. To the point where I was a nervous wreck, never doing anything that may have unfortunate circumstances (and that can even be getting out of bed) basing my life today on a prediction of the future. Let me tell you, that’s no way to live. Mindfulness helped me live for today, to appreciate where I am now and the beauty of the life we have right now. I spend my time working on great things today for the benefit of a greater future, not worrying about a bad future that stops me from being great today.

So, how has that helped me? Well for starters I am much more relaxed and easier to live with (according to my wife) I think I run a really great ship at Motionlab, and my business partners and team think I’m a good guy to work with. I rarely make decisions based on my emotional state of mind, I think more, I breathe more. I accept all opinions, I look for better ones than mine. I am not the only person that can make us super successful, we’re in it together. I am much braver today than I have been for many years (I was slightly daft when I was younger) so much so I went on my first big wheel with the kids at the weekend. We are making very educated, bold and brave decisions with the business, we are winning amazing projects, we are doing very well. By understanding my mind and how it works has opened up a new me, a new way of working and a new way of thinking. It’s been the best thing that’s happened to me and everyone around me. I heartily recommend it.

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