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When your brain tells you what to think, it’s only a suggestion.
Because the suggestion comes so quickly, and often forcefully because the brain uses emotion to back it up, it can seem like not a suggestion, but the truth.
There are thousands of “thoughts” that fire off in your brain that are marvelous, and life-giving suggestions. Your brain suggests that your heart keep beating, your lungs contract and release rhythmically, your gut digest and your kidneys filter.
Your brain also suggests that you get offended at the way someone else says something to you, or to feel sad when you see a news story, or to get irritated at someone for not taking out the trash.
I sometimes think of the mind like a Magic 8 Ball, or at least the part of the mind I call Closed Intelligence. (You can read more about Closed and Open Intelligence in this blog post). If you’ve never used a Magic 8 Ball, it’s a fortune telling toy. You ask a question, and then flip the Magic 8 Ball so a clear window appears. A plastic triangle will eventually float up into view against the window, with an answer inscribed into it.
Although simplified, this is basically what your thinking mind does for you. When information is delivered to your brain via your senses, your brain goes to work analyzing the information, and then offers you a suggested way to think about it. But if you’ve never questioned the suggestion, you won’t even realize you have the option of taking it as a suggestion rather than fact.
It’s happening right now. As you read this, your brain is creating thoughts in response to this blog post.
So, knowing this, here is a question for you:
Should you take the suggestion?
Should you believe the way your closed intelligence is telling you to think about what you are reading, or should you question the thoughts being automatically generated?
And now, knowing questioning the suggestion is an option, here’s another question for you:
Do you want to take the suggestion?
If for every thought your mind generates you knew there was at least one alternative suggestion to what your brain automatically offered you, would you want to just run with the first suggestion that came to mind, or would you want to think about it?
Sometimes the answer to that question will be no. Sometimes it will be yes.
Sometimes you will want to weigh your options, and that will get uncomfortable. The brain is designed to suggest and go, suggest and go, suggest and go. When we stop that process for a little while to observe our thinking and get deliberate about it, the brain often considers this a waste of time.
But if opening your mind to different suggestions changes your life for the better, it might be worth the effort to look beyond the Magic 8 Ball of your mind.
As a certified Life Coach and mindset expert I help people do that, and I can help you.
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Thanks to Artem Maltsev on Unsplash for the top photo.