Thoughts and What They Can Do to You
The brain is a busy organ—receiving much more information than it can fully process. So, quite naturally, it looks for shortcuts. What this means is that familiar questions, analyses or tasks that the brain feels it has already fully processed are dispensed with by rote. 1+1? That’s 2. Water too cold? Reach for the tap.
This is known as Level 1 thinking, and it’s helpful in some cases, but a hindrance in others. Suppose, as a child, you asked to join a group on the playground, but you were rejected and ridiculed. Your brain used the more intensive Level 2 thinking and processed this with the resources you had at the time, perhaps deciding you were a loser and shouldn’t try to join groups. Today, you see a group of people having a good time without you and your brain automatically spits back “You’re a loser—stay away.”
When our Level 1 processing causes suffering, it’s like a relentless mental whip. Negative thoughts literally become habits and may ruin an otherwise perfectly good life. But if new neural pathways can replace the old Level 1 thinking, and they cause less pain, we experience a life filled with more ease—and that’s a wonderful thing.