Last month I was lucky enough to train with Dr Russ Harris (author of The Happiness Trap). He describes the mind as a ‘don’t get killed’ device. A lot of our unpleasant, anxiety inducing, stress-making thoughts are just the mind doing its job.
The mind has evolved over the last 100,000 years with selective pressures favouring minds that were best at analysing past negative events and anticipating future ones. Positive events didn’t impact evolution as much as the life-threatening negative ones, so there was a negative bias in this process. Both physical threats and social threats were the focus of the mind, because survival of the individual was dependent upon not being eaten as well as not being kicked out of the social group.
Your ancestors and mine must have been good at this as their genes have survived and been passed on to us. Go ancestors!
But jumping forward to today. For most in our society, the basic needs for survival have been met but our mind is still on alert for threats. Our keen ability to analyse the past and anticipate the future, with a negative bias, can leave us feeling anxious, stressed and awake at 3am with a mind full of worry and a gut full of angst.
In addition, because we have placed the mind on a pedestal we’ve been left at the mercy of our thoughts. This means that our (very normal) negative thoughts go unquestioned. They are considered as truth and reality, and we might not even recognise them as a thing to be examined or questioned.
But by seeing the mind as a ‘don’t get killed’ device, we get a new perspective to our thoughts. We can observe them, question them, and importantly we can choose how we respond to them.
I can help you observe and choose how you’d like to respond to your thoughts in a way that aligns with your values. Choosing action that takes you towards your goals, and towards a more purposeful and joyful life. I love this stuff and could talk about it all day – but I promise not to!
Have a lovely December. Please stay safe and well hydrated!!