What Big Leaps does your brain make? And why should you care? This article explains about your Brain’s Big Leaps and why Awareness is important? What do I mean by Awareness? What difference does it make? In short, improved awareness can give you greater happiness, confidence, success and more. Really, it can change so much for you. Let me explain how and why awareness is important.
I bet you recognise this
Let’s start with an example. I bet you’ve experienced this before. You have an idea to do something; maybe it’s a project, an event, an initiative. You’re excited by the idea because it seems like a fun thing to do and you’re feeling inspired! Next thing, you open social media and you see someone doing the very thing you’ve just thought of… You look at it, and your energy drops. It looks so professional, they’ve done such a great job. You could never achieve the same. You might as well give up now. In fact, nevermind. You’re done already.
So… What happened here? Let’s get into it.
It started off great! Ideas, inspiration, energy! The only thing you could see was that it would be a success! Not a single doubt in your mind at this stage. You haven’t yet considered all the details of the idea, or what would be required to make it work. That’s fine. That’s to come.
Your mind makes Big Leaps
But as you saw the thing online, your mind made some Big Leaps! It jumped from ‘great idea, obvious success’ to ‘comparison’ to ‘finding yourself lacking’ to ‘obvious failure’ to ‘giving up’.
And give up is exactly what you did. The idea snuffed out before you even got started…
This is just one example, just one way of why most ideas never make it into reality. They don’t get developed and created because your mind creates a negative story about what will likely happen if you try…
Your brain makes Big Leaps frequently, in many different situations, such as conflict, trying something new, making a change, social situations, and professional situations. Sometimes it’s positive, and some people veer more naturally towards optimism. But many have a negative bias, like in this example.
Why Awareness is important
Here is where awareness can make all the difference and why awareness is important!
Awareness is at the core of emotional intelligence; awareness of yourself, of others (empathy) and of social context. It helps you to regulate yourself and helps you to manage your motivation (see Daniel Goleman on Emotional Intelligence), energy and outlook among other things.
Types of Big Leaps
When you are present and aware, you are able to catch the Big Leaps your brain makes. So when you have the idea, and you see the same on social media, instead of giving up, you can identify, for example, that you:
- Made a comparison between your idea and what you saw on social media without having enough information to know if that comparison is even remotely valid.
- Made a judgement about yourself and your own ability before you’ve properly considered what you can do to make the idea work in reality.
- Feel a worry about failing based on ‘what if’ scenarios and assumptions.
- Made assumptions rather than thinking of the questions you would have to find the answers to make the idea work.
- Your decision to give up is based on perception due to all of the above rather than a fully informed decision based on realistic facts, knowledge and ability.
When you see all of the above, it becomes easier to slow down and take stock. With awareness of these thought-processes, you are able to challenge your thoughts and choose differently. With awareness, your thoughts don’t run you, you run your thoughts.
How perception distorts your reality
You experience everything in your life and work through a set of filters. These filters are created by everything you’ve learnt, everything you hold true, your values and your belief system, your experiences. Your brain tries to make sense of all that filtered information by weaving all of it into a story that you can understand, a story that makes sense. Essentially, your brain uses all this information to build up your perception of reality.
Frequently, for your brain to be able to do this, it fills in gaps. It spots the gaps in knowledge or previous experience and it fills it with something else, maybe a closest match. It fills in gaps of knowledge, skims over possible questions and creates assumptions or jumps to conclusions to make the story up.
Negative bias keeping you safe or sorry
This in itself isn’t a bad thing, it is simply how it works. And it doesn’t always mean trouble is brewing. However, your brain also has a negative bias (learn more in this helpful article from Positive Psychology). This means your brain will likely add in negative thoughts. Combining your brain’s tendency to create stories filled with assumptions with your natural negative bias, means that your brain is actively distorting your reality negatively.
This distorted reality, full of assumptions and negative bias, can really get in the way of you doing things or achieving your goals. It can lead you to believe that your idea or project isn’t feasible. Or that you are not good enough to start something new. Maybe you think that you have no chance of getting that job so you don’t apply. Or that you can’t ask for a raise or promotion.
How awareness makes a difference
Now! If you have increased awareness of how and when these Big Leaps show up for you, you can start to make changes. You become aware of your thoughts and learn to spot the assumptions your brain has made. You start to see which parts of your thought-process are influenced by your negative bias. And as you start to become aware of these unhelpful thoughts, you become able to change them or turn them into questions so you can get the information you need. It also becomes easier to take action as you become more focused.
You can start to self-regulate your thoughts, being more in control of which thoughts to pay attention to. Additionally, you will learn how to respond rather than react. You start to be free from a lot of unhelpful stories that dictate your experiences, your performance and thus your results.
How to develop Awareness
How can you develop this awareness? The key is to become more present. To slow down and direct your focus onto the present moment and the situation you are in. So often focus drifts to either something that happened in the past or something we’re trying to achieve in the future. It adds noise to what we experience in the present. Slowing down and actively directing focus to the present will help you become more aware of your thoughts.
Using your awareness in this way is a practice. You may not always notice what is going on in the moment. But you can see it on reflection afterwards. Reflection on situations is really helpful to learn how your brain sometimes works against you, so that it becomes easier to spot it in the moment.
You are in control
You start to get to know yourself at a whole other level. As you do, you will learn that you don’t have to take all your thoughts seriously. That’s because you are not your thoughts and that you actually have a level of control of which thoughts you pay attention to, and which thoughts you choose to follow up on.
That’s when you start to become the driver of your own reality, you are empowered to take action on what’s important to you! Suddenly it becomes a lot easier to achieve results, and with results comes the type of success that you are working towards!
Help is at hand
If this article has raised some questions, or if you struggle to develop your awareness on your own, I’m here to help! As a coach, I help you uncover your blind spots and raise your awareness by acting as a sounding board, a mirror, a sense-check and a guide. You can get in touch and book a conversation here.
This is why I’m always going on about awareness! This is why awareness is important! It is key to your success, balance and happiness! And much more besides!