Picture this: It’s a busy evening in the city and you just called for a taxi. You open the door and slide into the back seat and expect to be greeted with the usual, “where to?” from the cab driver. Except you look up and there is no driver. Uhmmmm…excuse me?! This isn’t a self-driving vehicle — you literally just watched the driver open the door and step out, with the meter running, when you got in. Bizarre, no? No more strange than what we allow to happen to our thought patterns on a daily basis. Brain science is leading to greater understanding that just like the heart is an organ designed to beat, the brain is an organ designed to generate thoughts. The problem is: your brain could care less what it thinks about!
We are meant to take the wheel. And just like anything else, it takes time to learn to steer this runaway train (am I the only one who has felt this way?).
When we allow our thoughts to drive, we often find ourselves in sketchy back alleys, on streets with potholes, taking pointless detours and multiple right turns, and stopping by every fast-food restaurant and liquor store on our way to our destination…which is what? Our brain, unless purposefully directed, does not inherently have goals in mind!
We were meant to be in the driver’s seat, taking control of our thoughts, and evaluating the thoughts our brain is generating. I know… sounds exhausting, “I have to think about what I’m thinking about? Yikes!” Yet think about the alternative: do you want to continue just being a passenger (dare I say prisoner) to the organ of your brain?
While “training” our brains does take some effort to produce a physical change (new neuropathways), your future self will thank you. Now you may think I’m talking distant future, a year or two from now, but I’m not! I’m talking only 30-90 days from now. As with any new physical training, it is best you feed yourself well, get the right amount of sleep (7-8hrs), and healthy blood flow to your brain through exercise to set yourself up for success.
Now for the good news! Once our brains have been taught to steer to the beautiful scenic drives, you can start to relax and enjoy the drive more and more. That’s right! New neuropathways are formed where they previously weren’t, and with practice and time, the brain starts to follow these new roads automatically. That’s not to say that you can go back to snoozing in the backseat, but it does help to know that those anxious thoughts may not always plague you.
Courtney is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern at The Holistic Mental Health Clinic in St. Petersburg, FL. If you would like to learn how to put your hands on the wheel and learn to steer your brain you can contact Courtney at 727-520-9447 or by email.