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Effective Leadership

How to Make Your Brain Your Best-Friend

Positive psychology exercises

You might be thinking “why would I want MY brain as my best friend?” The answer is that your brain is the closest thing you have to the perfect answer for any problems you may come across. Unfortunately, your brain can also be your biggest critic and derail you if you let it. Finding the balance is the key to making that marvellous organ work the way you want it to.

First things first. Our brains are built with both optimistic and pessimistic circuitry in place, and both are essential to our well-being and safety. We want to stay alive!

positive thinking tips

Photo of Amygdala
Amygdala

Pessimism and negative emotions such as fear, are based in the amygdala, and they are there to warn us when we’re in danger or something doesn’t seem right. Optimism and the positive emotions are centred in the nucleus accumbens which is the part of the brain that responds to pleasure and happiness.

Dr Elaine Fox of Oxford Centre for Emotions and Affective Neuroscience, says “Our relationship with our neurons is organic: Sure, we respond to our neurons, but our neurons respond to us, to the things we do and even the things we think, resulting in observable changes in our brain.

So, while some of us have a tendency towards either optimism or pessimism, we can change the wiring to be more positive, and support you and not hold you back. The change happens gradually but the more you work at it, the stronger pathways you are building in your brain.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

If you’re tired of telling yourself off over trivial matters, or always assuming the worst about a situation, here are some things you can start to practice. I guarantee that they will change the way your brain thinks.

  1. Surround yourself with motivation. It makes sense that if you surround yourself with people that motivate you, your mindset will be more positive. Choose your company wisely.
  2. Be compassionate towards yourself. We show compassion towards others but when it comes to ourselves, we are our own worst enemies. Teaching yourself to be compassionate about your own choices can allow you accept that we all make mistakes. The vital part to moving through negative or bad situations is to simply accept what is and learn from it. When we berate ourselves, we prevent our brains from being able to learn and grow from each experience.
  3. Show yourself the same respect you show others. When you have a problem to deal with, imagine you are giving advice to a colleague. What would you say in that case? Don’t treat yourself with less respect than you treat others.
  1. Stop making assumptions. Don’t assume that because something went wrong once, it will always go wrong. Stop putting interpretations on people’s words or actions. Assumptions are rarely correct, and all they do is push you towards an incorrect action or response.
  2. Balance the negativity with positive influences. When a negative situation arises, remove yourself from it a quickly as possible and surround yourself with positive situations or experiences. The shorter the time you are in the situation, the less impact it usually has on your brain.

Your brain could be your best friend and push you beyond what you believe are your current limits if you let it. This is the kind of best friend everyone deserves, so now you know what to do, go and make it happen.

About the author

SONIA MCDONALD

SONIA MCDONALD

An internationally recognised speaker, entrepreneur, leadership expert, coach and thought leader. Having over 20 years experience in human resource management and organisational development, Sonia shares her leadership wisdom and knowledge in her highly sought after book, Leadership Attitude.

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