How do we Deceive our Brains into Forgetting Unhappy Things?
We do this by leveraging the art of deception, on ourselves. The idea is to trick our brain into forgetting unhappy things by adding more positive things. Full disclaimer – I am not a licensed clinical psychologist or in any way qualified to make claims or diagnoses in that realm of knowledge. These approaches are simply based on my experiences.
My Version of the Art of Deception
Here are a few techniques that have worked for me that you might try the next time someone upsets you at your day job.
- Train yourself over time to understand that you have no control over how other people will treat you, but you DO have total control over how you will react. This is an idea that has been articulated my many psychology and coaching scholars, but the most recent place I heard it was from Diamond Dallas Page (A former celebrated professional wrestling champion who has now created the incredible DDP Yoga workout that I enjoy very much).
- Make the move. Many times, we have thoughts or plans in our minds about how things can be better but we never vocalize them because we think we will be punished or fired. Well, I’m here to tell you that some jobs just aren’t worth the stress, and not all of the stress is created from the job itself. Much of it is often created by our fear to take action which creates self loathing afterward. So, my suggestion is to make the move that you have in your mind. More often than not, people will respect you for speaking your mind. Furthermore, usually no one will fire you for simply communicating that a situation is uncomfortable for you or an unacceptable request of your time. If they do, it wasn’t the right job for you, and you will most likely find something that is a much better fit soon, whether it is another job or your own business. In short, we typically feel happier when we have taken action whether or not that action has the desired result. We respect ourselves for having courage, and that creates a feeling of fulfillment.
- Avoid “multitasking”. Multitasking is a myth in my opinion, and only leads to unhappiness for you and others in the end. You are left completing multiple tasks poorly instead of completing 1 task to the best of your ability, which can leave you unfulfilled. conversely, the person with whom you are speaking is left unhappy because they feel like you are not listening to him. It’s just a good idea to avoid multitasking altogether. I realize that multitasking is a popular word that many people use to prove how busy or competent they are, but “Focus” and “Prioritizing” are always better ideas. You can accomplish this by drawing a simple table with 2 columns on it like the one I pasted here that I copied from a wonderfully informative book titled “The Business Coaching Toolkit” written by Stephen Fairley and Bill Zipp. You will list your priorities, both professional and personal for the upcoming week and then list the steps of action needed to finish those priorities. It takes about 30 minutes to compose your list weekly, and maybe 5 minutes per day to tweak it as you go along.You simply won’t work on things that are not on your list, so you are left working on ONLY things that are important to you. I’ve tried this with a coaching client who has found it to be incredibly effective. “The Business coaching Toolkit” describes it in much more detail if you are interested. It’s a very well put together book
- Create positive fulfilling activities that require daily attention. This can be starting a business or a blog in an area that makes you happy., and it doesn’t necessarily mean quitting your job if that isn’t the right move for you. For example, my job is currently very fulfilling for me so I have no reason to leave. However, I also have no reason to hesitate in pursuing my writing, coaching, and other things that make me feel fulfilled. It can be something hat you work on during the evenings or weekends. You might create blog content, create products and services to sell, complete certification courses, and attend to your new customers. This way, you are forced to work on those activities after your normal work day ends, and there is no time to linger on negative things that made you unhappy. Our brains can only focus on a limited number of things at a time. I believe the research suggests 5-7 although my brain is not nearly this adept :). We can consider those buckets of focus. If we fill all our buckets with positive things, there is simply no room for negative things.
So, How do we Deceive our Brains into Forgetting Unhappy Things?
We do it by creating a go-to treasure trove of positive things that need our attention. That way, when things make us sad, we can force ourselves to work on one of the many positive things we have lined up until we forget about the sadness. After doing this for long enough, it becomes second nature and we aren’t forcing ourselves anymore. Our brains simply choose all the good stuff without being deceived. Before I started writing and coaching, my escape was basketball. I’d go to the park and shoot around until I wasn’t sad anymore. This worked because basketball brings my so much joy that I can focus on being good at it. I still do on this occasion.