Are you using your mind properly?
Author: The Simple Bit
We all get the mind is a complex, beautiful thing. But how many of us can spot when we’re not using it properly?
The simple bits:
- Our minds are good at giving us signals when they’re not being used properly
- Many of us aren’t great at listening to our minds
- There are simple signs to spot when we’re not at our best
- There are simple steps to take when we notice something is up
Despite trying to kill them with too much TV as kids, our minds are complex things. But too often we distract ourselves with blinking screens and binge-worthy quality drama that we don’t listen to them. But if we tune into them and really listen, we’ll find that they give us all kinds of subtle hints when things aren’t quite right. And that means that many of us struggle to identify when we’re not getting the most out of them.
Dr Jo Mitchell, Clinical Psychologist at psychology community The Mind Room, reckons our mind is “this amazing machine, kind of like a Ferrari, but we drive it around like it’s a bombed-out old ute.”
How to spot it
There are some tell-tale signs that you need to give your mind a service, and luckily they’re pretty easy to spot. Sort of like an oil stain on a driveway. (We’re really pushing this metaphor).
- You’re stressed AF
Stress can often sneak up on us. It may present itself in a snappy remark to a loved one or your mind constantly running through the never-ending list of things to do (without, you know, DOING any of it).
It not only makes life seem more difficult, but it’s also a sign that you may not be getting the most out of your mind.
- You can’t get no satisfaction
Not feeling satisfied with where you’re at with your life can be another good indication that you’re not using your mind to its full potential.
For some of us, this may be obvious, like feeling dissatisfied with your role at work. For others, it can be subtler, or a feeling of “quiet dissatisfaction” says Dr Jo.
- You’ve got issues with important life stuff
This may be seen in your relationships, work, parenting or more generally your performance in life. Wherever it pops up though, having unexpected (or even expected) issues in your day-to-day life can be incredibly distressing, and may be the result of a cluttered mind.
What to do about it
So once you’ve identified the signs, what comes next?
In keeping with the Ferrari metaphor (we’re onto a good thing, ok?), Dr Jo’s advice for getting the most out of our mind is simple: “It’s about learning how to drive it properly.” So, let’s have a little driving lesson with Dr Jo, shall we?
- Take notice
According to Dr Jo, “most of us go through on autopilot and don’t recognise what our mind and body are actually telling us.”
As a result, the simplest thing you can do is to take notice of how you’re reacting to what’s happening in your life, and the thoughts that may be running through your head. Learn to recognise your habits of mind.
- Be your own scientist
This isn’t about donning a white coat and goggles. More being what Dr Jo describes as “curious about your experience.” This means taking an interest in the thoughts you’re having without attaching positive or negative emotion to them. Notice how they are just thoughts, or suggestions rather than instructions for how to live your life. You decide which ones to listen to.
- Think about how you want to live your life
Finally, identifying where you want to be in your life can be crucial to achieving a super mind. This involves identifying your values and working towards living a life that supports them.
Importantly, intentionally making time to take care of your mind is key to getting the most out of it. Instead of getting swept up in the mental chatter, learn how to manage your mind so you can lead a purposeful and connected life. That might be something little like a digital detox, or huge like a tree change. Your mind might just thank you.
Sections of this article were first published by psychology community The Mind Room. Find out more about them here.
If you or someone you know needs urgent psychological support please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or see your GP or psychologist.