10 Simple Ways to Avoid Falling Into Traps Set by Your Own Mind
Sometimes it feels as though our whole lives consist of one long struggle with our emotions, laziness, and temptations. And unfortunately, victory isn’t always on our side. However, with a few psychological tricks, you can easily overcome any problems you might face.
With this in mind, we at Bright Side have put together a list of ten ways to help you understand the inner workings of your mind better, allowing you to bring your life under control.
1. Treat yourself kindly
Treat yourself kindly, learn to forgive yourself for your own weaknesses, celebrate your successes, and don’t condemn yourself for your mistakes. The fact is that your brain not only protects your health but also determines your mood. So when you condemn your own mistakes and weaknesses, your brain searches desperately for a way to cheer you up. And the easiest way to do this may well turn out to be the one thing you’ve been trying to avoid.
2. Avoid accepting any free stuff
All of us come into contact with offers of free services and gifts in shops, clubs, hairdressers, and so on. It’s best to refuse to take anything for free if you want to avoid wasting excessive amounts of money in the long run. You probably won’t notice it, but your brain will see the receipt of something for free as a kind of debt that has to be repaid — and you’ll begin to feel that you owe something. In turn, you’ll end up making a spontaneous purchase or see a raised price on something as acceptable.
3. Read as many books as possible, but do so little by little
Do you love to read but find you lack the time to engage in your favorite hobby? Establish a certain number of pages from a book that you need to read each day. When you read, your mind gets held up by thoughts of just how much you still have to do to finish the book. You wouldn’t be able to guess it, but your brain is not a fan of long-term projects as it has to expend a lot of energy on them. To counter this, simply read a little each day — 10 or 12 pages won’t strain your mind.
4. Learn to train your brain in the same way you train the muscles of your body
Try to visualize your desires — not concrete objects you wish you owned, but the skills you wish you had or the circumstances you hope might one day exist. Set aside some time before you go to bed to practice this exercise. Just as blood rushes to your arm when you lift up a weight, your brain will also react to the mental "load" of this visualization exercise. Flexing your brain in this way will increase your motivation to achieve your dream, shortening your path toward it.
5. Don’t waste your time chatting when you’re at the gym or after your workout
Periods of physical exercise or extreme stress make an individual more talkative than normal. In such moments, you’re more likely to reveal a well-kept secret. This is because physical exertion triggers your "fight or flight" mechanism, speeding up your pulse and your breathing. Your brain reacts to this situation as if you were in physical danger and strains to offer all of its reserves of strength to help you cope. Ultimately, all this does is make you a great target for those who want to get inside your head. Bear this in mind if you work out with people you know!
6. Lay off the games on your smartphone
It’s time to give up all those smartphone games that supposedly "develop brainpower and attention span" — they don’t work. If you genuinely want to safeguard the health of your mind, then play a sport. During physical exercise, blood rushes to the head and this helps stimulate your brain far more than any brainteaser on a screen.
7. Break up a complex task into smaller ones
If you’re facing a complex challenge, break it up into smaller, more manageable tasks. This will help your brain to stop thinking about the difficulties that lie ahead and instead turn its attention to resolving a logical series of steps. If, for example, you need to write up a long report, sort it into major sections or topics and deal with them one by one. Your brain will subconsciously be drawn into resolving all the tasks you set for it.
8. Put it back on the shelf
Do you love walking around the shops, but find it difficult to resist making spontaneous purchases? The reason for this is well understood: it’s called dopamine, the "hormone of desire." It begins to work the second your eyes see something interesting or attractive. When you can touch that thing with your hands, the hormone works even more effectively. The blood rushes to your face, your heart begins to pound, and, before you know it, some completely useless item is in your shopping cart. The solution is simple: keep your hands in your pockets, and only look at all those unneeded items — but no more.
9. Get rid of your plate when you feel full
This simple but very clever trick can stop you from overeating, even when you’re at a family event and can’t escape the table. Simply remove your plate from your field of view, or cover it with a napkin. By doing so, you’ll cut off the production of dopamine — "the hormone of desire." Your brain sees food as a reward, but only when you see it or detect its aroma. So instead of trying to stop yourself from eating that one last morsel, just get rid of your plate. The desire to consume more will disappear within minutes.
10. Dim the lights in every room an hour before sleep
This trick will help you to get the right amount of sleep — and it will be of the healthy and calm variety as well. A reduction in light sends a signal to your brain that it’s time to rest. In turn, your brain allows the production of melatonin to begin, which regulates your circadian rhythm. Slowly, your metabolism begins to decrease, and your mental processes will move into "sleep mode."
Illustrated by Dinara Galieva for BrightSide.me