Ever noticed how much your brain takes in when you’re simply walking along. Check out my thoughts on how you can stop your brain kicking into overdrive and achieve more calm in your day.
What do you see when you look at this photo of me?
No, I’m not fishing for compliments. I’m curious what thoughts pop up when you look at me.
Do you see a woman standing, smiling and think she’s happy
Do you notice the grey hair and think, she’s due for a colour?
Do you try to guess my age and then determine whether I look young or old for it?
Maybe you check for wrinkles, the colour or straightness of my teeth, whether my eyebrows are tamed, whether I need more or less makeup or even why I bothered posting this photo.
The fact is, most of the time, when we look at someone, something stands out to us and we register something about them. We analyse them. And more often than not, we make some kind of judgement. Positive or negative, it doesn’t matter. We might try to wrap it up in curiosity, however we judge them to be feeling, acting, thinking, in a certain way because on some level we need to make sense of it.
Our brain seeks out to understand what we are seeing, to categorise it, to label it. It happens so often, its unconscious to us most of the time. It’s so inherent in our behaviour that half the time we don’t even realise we do it.
Our brain is always trying to make sense of what we see.
Picture this. You’re up early for a walk. People pass you by, they may be runners, people chatting with friends, walking their dogs, working out and you might start thinking “I’m up and about with the other fit people this morning” and silently pat yourself on the back. Then as you look around, a particular runner might catch your eye and before you know it, you start questioning their running style (cos you’re such an expert, not!) or a dog and their owner stroll past and you start wondering whether their dog looks like them (yes, apparently that’s a thing!). Or maybe you see a woman wearing sunglasses at 6:30am and think “there’s no sun, why does she need sunnies?”. Or you spot a couple holding hands and wonder if they’re in a new relationship. What was initially a relaxing, peaceful walk has suddenly sent your brain into overdrive trying to analyse all this information firing at you. Driving us to try and make sense of things that have nothing to do with us. What a waste of energy!
Like a hyped up toddler or a new puppy, we need to retrain our brain on where and what to put energy into, otherwise we’ll end up exhausted without knowing why.
So, what if we could curb this incessant need to analyse everything we see, to nip it in the bud before our brain kicks into overdrive. Just think how much energy we would save and have left to pour into feeling, thinking, acting on the things we choose to focus on, instead of what just happens to pop up in our sights.
So, the next time you are out walking or people watching whilst you sip your latte, try changing your “observation” to note the action or the item without emotion, without judgement. So, the runner simply becomes “running”, someone is “smiling”, people are “talking”, someone wearing sunglasses without sunshine becomes “sunglasses”. Try this and notice how quickly your brain simply registers the information and moves on. No emotion, no attachment, no judgement. The more times you practise this, the more you’ll notice that you are more present in your own world and not casually day dreaming in the lives of others.