Do you know that your mind can be your best friend and also your worst enemy? Have you been assaulted with random thoughts in the middle of the night, that go round and round in your head, stealing your sleep with their whispering voices and no matter what you do they just won’t go away!
I have recently enrolled for the Positive Intelligence – PQ Program that aims at taking care of these whispering negative thoughts by uprooting them from our core. Over the last three weeks I have been practicing these simple and effective techniques called PQ reps making space for my little mental workout every few hours for 2 minutes at a time. You can get a wealth of information on their website https://www.positiveintelligence.com but let me give you my personal takeaway from this science based program.
Positive Intelligence research proves that there are two distinct regions in your brain involved in producing two different kinds of thoughts and feelings. One is the ‘Survive’ region, which lies in the brain stem and part of your left brain, one that produces negative emotions (saboteurs) when you are put in a challenging situation. These emotions start off as being helpful as they do alert you to protect yourself, but once the situation is over or danger has gone, we tend to linger in this survival mode where this emotion is no longer helpful and does not serve you well in the long run.
The other part of the brain is the ‘Thrive’ region, the middle pre-frontal cortex that produces positive emotions (sage) like empathy, compassion, gratitude, etc that have always been there with you and that you used quite naturally as a child. Activating this region can release endorphins that make you feel good and take better decisions even in the face of crisis.
We were all born with both these emotions meant to be used in the right way and right time. When a child experiences an uncomfortable situation they resort to using their survival emotion to make themselves feel better. e.g. A child who is neglected by their parent would resort to thinking ‘Am I good enough?’ Repeated use of the survival emotions (self-doubt, anger, avoidance, procrastination) tend to highlight that particular neural pathway in our brain, making us believe that these emotions are helpful. However over time all they do is build up stress, anxiety and all kind of negative thoughts, leading to a physical and mental drain on our personal and professional relationships.
Mental fitness is nothing but re-building this forgotten highway or the positive neural pathway in your brain which works on the simple idea of ‘What you think is what you believe and become.‘ I have been personally visiting this “PQ Gym” on the PQ app for the last three weeks and I can already feel the difference in my ability to deal with situations which stems from an area of calm and control.
If you are ready to build these powerful habits and make a positive difference in your life, here are some simple brain workout tips that you can implement in your daily routine. Some of these are from the PQ program some are based on my own experience and other reading material –
- PQ reps – Also called Self-command exercises, these are simple, short exercises that help you focus on the ‘here and now’ and on your physical state and experience at any given point in time. In a way it is like meditation where you focus on your breath and body sensations but its easier and more practical as you incorporate these practices in 2 minute sessions through the day making a dent in that new neural path in your brain that you wish to build.
- Identifying your saboteurs – The PQ program helps you identify your existing negative emotions called ‘Saboteurs.’ You could do this online quiz to get started. Identifying these ‘wild beasts’ as I call them will help you recognise them and call out to them when they come up. It starts with awareness and letting them know that they are not your friends.
- Bringing in your Sage – ‘Sage’ as identified in the PQ Program are your positive emotions like empathy, curiosity, gratitude, creativity etc that need to be nurtured and brought in to your rescue when the situation demands. These are your heroes who you need to build and make powerful so that they can help you fight against all odds in a a way that will make you feel good and not let any kind of a situation overpower you.
- Physical Exercise and Sleep – I can’t emphasise the need for both a good physical workout and good uninterrupted sleep for overall well being. As a mother of two energetic boys, outdoor activities formed a big part of our day and while it was exhausting for me at times, I was quite enthusiastic about having a run in the park or playground followed by a disciplined bedtime ritual, helping my boys rejuvenate their mind and body for the following day.
- Focus time – Crossword puzzles, sudoku, jigsaw are beneficial activities for kids and adults alike, challenging our brain and improving our mental speed and brain power.
I am sure that there would lots of other ways to challenge our brain in the right direction. However the key to doing this is to do it consistently and making it a part of our daily routine. So are you ready to get started?
Disclaimer: This is a personal blog with my own views based on my own experience as a coach participant of the Personal Intelligence Quotient (PQ) Program.