A strong determined man showing his brain and that he knows how to check himself.

Do you know how to check yourself? How are you perceiving and reacting to the world around you?

By consistently checking yourself, you’re ensuring that only accurate information is given to your brain. You’ll also guarantee that you’re solving problems effectively and handling ruminative thoughts.

Author Mo Gawdat provides a few methods to check yourself.

Monitor the Information You Feed Your Brain

To know how to check yourself, Gawdat says that you need to ensure that sensory information is the only type of information you’re feeding your brain so you can form an accurate and true perception of reality. Remember that if it can’t be proven by your senses, it’s not fact. Second, test the sensory information. Let’s test the following statement: My child is a poor musician because I heard them play poorly at practice yesterday. Does hearing them play poorly yesterday prove they’re a bad musician? No—it simply proves that they played poorly yesterday.

Further, acknowledge when you’re using sensory information to fabricate a story based on assumptions and past experiences. For example, your partner said they had to work late but arrives home with a take-home box from a restaurant. Your mind puts these ideas together and assumes your partner lied to you and met someone for dinner—they’re cheating on you! Is this information true? No—the elements you can observe don’t prove that they lied, and definitely don’t prove that they’re cheating on you. Recognize how your past experiences can influence your present thoughts: You may jump to this conclusion because a similar situation happened in your last relationship when you were cheated on. 

Acknowledge and Debunk the Story You’re Telling Yourself

In Rising Strong, Brené Brown explains, like Gawdat, that allowing yourself to believe inaccurate information can lead to unhappiness by causing you to foster negative feelings about yourself and others. To overcome your assumptions and recognize when you’re feeding yourself inaccurate stories, Brown recommends following a three-step process to record and analyze the narrative you’re telling yourself about what happened

First, Brown says to record your story of what happened in detail—what happened, why you think it happened, and what the situation made you think and feel. It’s OK if your story seems unreasonable and you feel crazy—just be honest about all the initial thoughts and emotions you had. For example, “I heard my child play the wrong notes during his practice. He must play like this all the time. I know that he’s a poor musician because I’m a poor musician too, and he’s making the same mistakes I did.”

Once you’ve recorded your initial story, think of other external factors you may need to consider to get a more accurate perspective. To do this, first acknowledge which parts of the story are facts and which are assumptions. For example, the fact is that you heard your child play the wrong notes, and the assumptions are that he does it all the time, he’s a bad musician, and he’s poor because you’re poor. Then, consider how your assumptions may be inaccurate and what you can do to clarify them—for example, maybe you should speak to the instructor and learn how often your child actually makes these mistakes.

Finally, Brown says to look inward and question why you made the assumptions you did. What unhealthy thoughts and beliefs led to your assumptions? For example, maybe you regret not working harder at music as a child so you feel the need to push your children so they don’t feel the same regret. Once you know why you made your assumptions, you can work on overcoming the underlying beliefs that fueled them.
How to Check Yourself: Monitoring What Your Brain Consumes

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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