In his enormously popular book, The Road Less Traveled, Dr. Scott Peck states that change is hard. Depending on what it is you are wanting to change, this can be true. Over time, however, I have come to believe that this is not quite as hard as we often make it. Change gets a whole lot easier once you become aware of the messages your brain is sending and you learn to filter out the wheat from the chaffe. I think one of the reasons change feels so difficult sometimes is because we don’t know what we want. We are ambivalent. And, perhaps most importantly, we haven’t fully separated ourselves from the thoughts that our brains generate. When we add the fact that our brains are actually designed to keep us safe, worry is an essential part of our survival. So, why would we give it up? If our brain is driving the bus it views “thought abandonment” as akin to lying down in the middle of the forest and waiting for an animal to devour us. Change is hard because we don’t want to let go of our negative patterns, even if there is a large percentage of suffering that goes along with it. Change can be hard because on some level we just don’t want to change.
However, what I’m about to share means that transformation is within your grasp. Stop believing everything your brain tells you. I know it is helpful getting you to work, planning your day, keeping your house in order, managing the kids and setting goals for your sport. The brain is also a collassel failure in knowing what the future will bring, particularly when you are mind-reading other people or questioning whether you deserve to be successful or are good enough. The brain goes haywire when it starts fearing that something could go wrong. It makes up stories and assumptions based on a multitude of factors and it is often totally wrong. But, every so often we make a prediction that turns out to be true (maybe in part because we unconsciously created it–known as a self-fulfilling prophecy). And, then we are rewarded for our incredible detection skills. Or, what about the times that we worry and then everything works out? To add to the challenge, we are rewarded because what we were worrying about didn’t happen so why drop it?
Well here’s the deal. Start paying attention to what your brain is telling you. Stop taking every message it sends you as fact and let’s see if we can’t develop more awareness of that useful, but often irritating brain of yours. Eventually you can learn to use it as the tool it was designed for and not more. The brain does not like to be unemployed so you need to create an “off” button, even if it’s just moment to moment.
Tremendous change happens once you become aware of your brain and its patterns. It’s a sneaky little one, but you can learn to coach it so it performs the way you want it based on what is really important to you.