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Control Your Sporadic Brain With One Quick Move

Do you have thoughts or do you create thoughts? These are the questions that fill my brain at odd hours of the day. You know the drill: You try to focus on something (or nothing), but then a hidden voice keeps lobbing projectiles over your consciously crafted walls, smashing everything you’ve so delicately set up.


Or, to take the analogy out of the Middle Ages and into our living rooms, sometimes it feels like you’re trying to watch a movie on your brain’s projector, but your subconscious changes the channel to some series called, “What If You’re A Fraud?” or another favorite, “True Crime Stories: Are You Sure You’re Happy?”, or the ever popular, “Stereotypes: Clear As Day.”


Enter good ‘ol NPR.


I heard an interview with a mindfulness expert who had a very simple sentence that stuck with me:


You’re not responsible for your first thought, but you are responsible for your next one.

Our subconscious mind is there to protect us from fears, real or imaginary. It’s the most sensitive motion detector ever. Oh my gosh, what issssssss that?! WHO is that?! We’re dead!


Knowing this, don’t treat your subconscious machinations as an edict from your inner oracle; treat it as your opponent’s first random move in a game of chess.


Chess, not whack-a-mole, because you don’t want to bury those thoughts; you want them to sit out in the field of play to see how they withstand the questions:


Where did that come from?

What are you basing that on?


It is there that they usually fall apart, or reveal that there’s something to be investigated further.


Strange to think that we, the “great” Homo Sapien who has landed on the moon, harnessed the power of the atom and can transplant a heart, has to battle everyday to stay even-keeled atop a ceaseless bubbling of thoughts which are often childish, agoraphobic, on acid, or all three.


We can’t control the initial ping, but we can control what we do with it.


That’s our superpower. Reason, not rationalization. Because “thinking” is not enough. Maybe we have to append Descartes’ famous line.


I think, therefore I am.

I reflect, therefore I grow.

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© Bassam Tarazi 2020