Children & Young People: Taking Charge of Your Brain

I’m going to be talking to you about taking full responsibility for how your brain works and what you are doing in there. One of the things that I hear a lot from the young people that I work with is that they know the right things to do and they know what the wrong things are that they should not do and yet sometimes they still do the wrong thing and don’t do the right thing. How can this be you might be asking? Here’s the thing what I hear is that they know what they should or shouldn’t do but their brain makes them do something else and they speak as if this brain has its own ideas and its own plans and they’re not in charge of it.

Here’s the thing, you are your brain so if your brain is not doing what you want it to do it’s not because your brain is out of control; it’s because you haven’t found the right way to be able to control it. What we want to do is make sure that you firstly before you start trying to change anything in there you have to be taking full responsibility for what you’ve got in there. Let me give you an example! Let’s imagine that you have a dog and your dog whilst you’re out walking it in the park does a poo in the middle of the pavement. This is a very badly behaved dog. This dog runs up to an old lady and it bites her on the back side, it bites her on the bum. This is a very badly behaved dog and then it runs over to a very small child and just like barges into them and they end up falling over. It’s your dog, right you own the dog. 

Was it you who did the poo on the pavement?
No of course it wasn’t 

Was it you that bite the old lady on the bottom?
No of course it wasn’t 

Was it you that knocked over the tiny child who was playing in the park?
No of course not

None of those things were you? 

It’s not your fault right?

Well let’s think about it from this perspective it is your dog so whose responsibility is it to make sure that your dog is well behaved and that your dog goes to dog training so that it learns how to behave if it’s not a very well behaved dog?

It’s yours because you are the owner of the dog so it’s up to you to make sure that even if you have a very naughty dog that your dog gets trained so it knows how to behave in the way that you wanted to and to listen to the commands that you might give, telling it what it should and shouldn’t do and it’s the same with your brain. You have to be in charge of your brain so that it will follow the commands that you give it and do the things that you want it to do and stop doing the things that you don’t want it to do and that might mean that you need to give your brain some training just like you might need to give your dog some training too. Whilst it’s not your fault that you have a very badly behaved dog it is your responsibility to do something about it. 

What can we do about it? Before we start thinking about how we can motivate your brain to work in a different way, we have to make sure that your brain is going to be agreeable to doing that so going back to your dog if you wanted to take your dog, to dog training, you can’t expect your dog to perform well. If you didn’t feed him properly that day he’s going be a grumpy a dog he’s not going to behave himself. If your dog had not had enough sleep, he is not going to be the best behaved dog at dog training. Sometimes these are the things that we do to ourselves we maybe don’t eat properly, don’t get enough sleep or are just outright mean to ourselves and then we expect our brains to behave themselves and do the things that we want them to do and not do the things that we don’t want them to do. It’s very difficult for your brain to agree to those sorts of rules if you’re not treating it well.

One of the first things you need to do before you start diving into training your brain is to make sure that you’ve created the right situation than the right circumstances for your brain so that it will want to follow your instructions, that might mean, that you ask yourself what would my brain like more of or what would it like less of? maybe your brain needs a little bit less stress and a bit more relaxation? maybe your brain needs a little bit more discipline or more guidance in order for it to perform properly? Before you start thinking about training your brain think about creating the right circumstances, the right situation for your brain to be able to do well a very easy trap to fall into is the one where we push ourselves too hard and we’re just super mean to ourselves, you know, maybe we say unkind things about ourselves to ourselves. You can’t expect your brain to perform at its best if you spend most of your time telling your brain that it’s useless.

Here’s the key thing most problems can be solved by them simply not being your problem anymore we’re really good at solving other people’s problems we’re not so good at solving our own so if you’re in a situation where you find that your brain is not doing what you want it to do – use something like the story around the dog that I gave you at the beginning of the article because when it is not about you and it’s about something outside of you or someone else it’s much easier to come up with creative ideas about how you would be able to solve that problem and if instead of talking about your own brain that’s in here you talk about a pretend dog that you don’t have, you might find that you’re able to come up with solutions to the problematic dog that would also be really useful and important for how you would sort out the way that your own brain is working.

By Gemma Bailey

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