Distracting yourself might provide your brain with the time it needs to come up with a solution.
Distracting yourself might provide your brain with the time it needs to come up with a solution. iStock

Why our brains have more power than you think

The mind is an amazing tool. Simply remarkable.

In my early years I would just react to the situations that I found myself in without a lot of forethought. Operating on instinct, gut feel and an intrinsic desire for adventure and independence, I was led into all sorts of experiences that built knowledge, understanding and, over time, patience and resilience. As an aside, perhaps the comment should be that I led myself, however at the time I wasn't that considered and just went for it.

As life has continued to evolve and Rowena and I have continued our studies into human behaviour, and in particular how the brain works to support us in that evolution, I have become more and more attuned to trusting that what I ask of my brain and mind, and given time for processing, an answer will come that fits the request.

I no longer doubt myself or what my brain is capable of. That's a big release from holding anxiety about what could or might happen and frees up a huge amount of horsepower in thinking and productivity.

What is truly incredible is that the brain doesn't know the difference between fantasy and reality and responds to either as though it were real. It will then rationalise and justify the decisions that get made so we can feel better about them. The brain burns a lot of energy, using about 20 per cent of our oxygen intake and 20 per cent of our calories, and a lot of that is wasted by the way we think and what we think.

Most of the time we are far from specific in our thinking or requests to the incredible supercomputer that sits inside our skull and drives everything that we do, say and produce, including emotions, thoughts, beliefs and fears.

So, taking all of that into account now, when I am setting up for a project, working with a client or wanting to write on a subject, I basically refine the question so that the mind has to provide a very specific outcome. I ask myself the question and, with a time set for response, then get out of my own way by distracting myself with time in the garden, cleaning, or doing other odd jobs that have no relationship to what I want answered.

This processing time is invaluable. Sometimes it may be an immediate response, at others it could be provided as I wake up in the morning or as I'm cooking dinner. The answer comes or a link of thinking, an abstraction, arrives that then with some consideration takes me to the answer to my questions. Cool eh?

As I no longer question, doubt or second guess myself - and perhaps that comes with age and experience - I find myself with time available to focus on other things that are important; my relationships, learning and contributing. What do you think?

Nick Bennett is a facilitator and coach at mindsaligned.com.au