Your brain, your beliefs, your behavior.
Did you know that your brain doesn’t know the difference between what is true and what you believe?
Your brain also seeks to confirm what it already believes. It literally looks to validate your beliefs and biases, regardless of whether they’re based in fact or not.
The situation becomes further complicated if you’re trapped in a limiting belief or negative unconscious bias. Think of how much in your life is affected by your beliefs—relationships, people’s value, right and wrong. At some point you have to ask yourself “Is what I believe truly serving me? Serving others?”
Because the mechanisms in our brains operate so instantaneously, you typically don’t notice your brain launching into your biases—not without practiced attention and effort, anyway.
But it is possible. In fact, it’s encouraged.
Beliefs inspire thought, thought inspires emotion, emotion inspire action.
So, what do we do with this information?
Mindfulness is a powerful tool in learning what your biases are. Intention to practice getting really curious about the things you think, the reactions you have, and the content you find yourself consuming.
If you need a prompt to help you practice, consider making it a habit to observe yourself during work meetings. If that’s not relevant to you, use phone calls. Whatever works for you, find a prompt or cue that you can commit to practicing observing yourself.
Pay attention to your language and your conversations; notice where your strong opinions come up and take note of the topics. An important caveat to this work is to go into it with an attitude of curiosity. You’re here to learn, not to judge yourself. We practice not so that we can berate ourselves; rather, so that we can learn and move mindfully to the next level of our awareness. Knowing that you can take action against these biases should help temper your desire to judge or criticize yourself.
You can remind yourself that, really, nobody can have 100% certainty that they’re absolutely right about a thing; and because most of our beliefs come from someone or someplace else, you can apply a bit of humility to this process, too. Know that you’re wrong. About a lot of things. But don’t feel bad…shoot…nobody’s got it all th’damn selves.
Once you become adept at paying attention to your beliefs and reactions, you can start incorporating a • p a u s e • before you react. This pause is powerful; it stops the autonomic neural response of reactivity and gives you the opportunity to choose how you respond. And it really works. It takes practice, but it will release you from the enslaved knee-jerk reaction that gets you into so many uncomfortable and unnecessary situations..
• Choose a prompt • Practice • Repeat •