We all need to know this – the anxious bit of the brain is a mono-tasker. It’s a bit like a fusty, gnarly old uncle at the end of the table who causes trouble…until he’s preoccupied by the footy on the telly.
So, simply put, we can feasibly dampen the anxious brain by accessing other parts of our brain.
In FWMTBB (my new book, out now) I cover off a bunch of tricks for doing this. And share the science on the above.
But this one escaped me – shower thoughts. You know the deal – all your best thoughts come to you in the shower. These thoughts, of course, are not clusterf*cked by anxiety. So they unfurl creatively, helpfully.
A wonderful essay in The Book of Life explains how and why:
“The primary obstacle to good thinking is not a cramped desk or an uninteresting horizon. It is, first and foremost, anxiety.”
Yep. Anxiety knots and confuses our thinking. This is because…
“Often the most profound thoughts we need to grapple with have a potentially disturbing character.”
By which it is meant they tend to be irky. You know, awkward, confronting, the kind we try to avoid:
“We might discover that some of our past, rather cherished, beliefs were not as wise as we’d supposed; we might realise we were previously deeply wrong about something; we might have to make some significant and tricky changes to our lives.”
Yeah, irky stuff. Generally, as these potential implications start to come vaguely into view, our inner censor, motivated by a desire for calm rather than growth, gets alarmed.
But when we have a shower…
“The mind is no longer on guard. We’re not supposed to be doing much inside our heads; we’re mainly occupied with trying to soap our backs and properly rinse our hair. The ideas that have been half-forming at the back of our minds, ideas about what the true purpose of our lives might be and what we should do next, keep up their steady inward pressure…”
BUT, here’s the thing…
“There is a lot less to stop them reaching full consciousness. We’re not meant to be thinking and so – at last – we can think freely and courageously.”
In short, our mono-tasking anxious brain is distracted, falsely put off guard, and the clear thoughts can stream through.
Do you find this?