Have you admired someone with a quick, facile mind and thought “I wish I could do that”? Well you can.
Genetics may set an upper limit to how quickly your mind works, but you have it in your power to dramatically improve the speed and agility your mind possesses.
The key to a quicker mind is to remove the speed bumps that exist in your mind. They include:
Each of these speed bumps inserts thoughts into your mind that distract it from whatever issue you’re considering. Here are examples of each:
When you experience fear, your mind vacillates between fight and flight. While your mind is in this mode it can’t focus on finding a solution. You’ve seen deer freeze in headlights or squirrels reverse direction several times while crossing the road. That’s what’s going on in your brain when you experience fear. That’s why it feels as if your mind is slow…and it will be as long as you nurture the fear.
While fear typically is specific to a situation, anxiety is a more generalized sense of the world around you. Even those who aren’t inclined to anxiety…given the daily dose of news reporting we get…experience some level of anxiety. As with fear, anxiety splits our mind’s focus and causes us to feel like we’re slow thinkers.
When we’re frustrated, when things aren’t going as we’d hoped, our minds are split between bemoaning our lot and continuing what we’re doing with diminishing levels of hope about the success we might achieve. Any time the mind is split, your thought process slows.
Some people have reported to me that if they don’t respond quickly others will think them slow or dimwitted. Consequently, their thought process slows and their self-perception, which they translate into others’ perception of them, is reinforced. The longer their concern continues, the more slowly their minds work.
If you want to develop a quicker, more facile mind, remove the speed bumps. You’ll notice that I didn’t say “avoid” the speed bumps. We can’t do that. These speed bumps are emotions and, as we’ve discussed previously, emotions are automatic responses. We can’t stop them.
We can, however, remove them as quickly as they appear. Here’s how:
Fear - Answer this question “When in my life have I encountered a situation in which I’ve had no background or experience and failed to produce a result?” If you’re honest with yourself, the answer is “never.” You may not have gotten there on the 1st, 2nd or even 5th iteration, but you’ve always found a way to deal with the situation. This simple reminder allows you set aside your fear within milliseconds of its arrival.>
Anxiety - Filter the information you get. I scan news headlines on my computer and tap into only those that provide me new information that’ll help me make better choices in the future or intrigue me because they’re new, exciting discoveries that can be used to make the world a better place. In the few seconds it takes to filter the “news” you get, you can lower your level of anxiety. If that doesn’t work, you may need to seek medical help.
Frustration - Recall how quickly you found solutions to frustrating problems when you walked away from them. There isn’t a person alive who hasn’t had this experience. You’re trying to solve a problem to no avail. You double your efforts, again to no avail. You finally give up and as you’re walking away the solution suddenly appears. Recognizing that solutions appear more quickly when you take a moment to pause and allow your frustration to dissipate helps remove the frustration speed bump.
Self-perception - Be true to who you are…to your values and beliefs…while respecting the rights of others to their beliefs. When concerns for your self-image pop into your mind ask yourself “Am I being true to my values?” If so, you’ll find it much easier to set aside concerns over other people’s perceptions. If, as one person told me, the demons are in your own head, then refer to the fear advice…remind yourself that you’ve always found a way to produce a favorable result even when you’ve had no background or experience.
For our kids
Pass these tips along to your kids when you see them judging themselves as slow thinkers. Help them realize that these speed bumps are natural tendencies we all possess by virtue of our humanity, but that we can overcome them using the tips outlined above.
Don’t forget to live the message. Kids emulate the behaviors of the adults in their lives…especially when it works.