I suggest you to do a very simple exercise before you start reading this article. Stand up and start walking counting backwards, starting from 1000 and subtracting seven from time to time, for example, 1,000, 993, 986… At some point, you’ll stop walking, probably very soon. This is because the brain has to concentrate and work seriously to make the calculation and is not able to control where your legs are going.
In fact, the brain works similar to a computer’s processor: has a limited power of data processing or, our cognitive resources are finite at a given moment. Any emotional or intellectual activity that requires too much “space” eventually it will affect our ability to concentrate, solve problems, be creative or even remember. As a result, our IQ is reduced, at least temporarily, until we release these resources.
The most common mental habits
Most of the activities that we make every day don’t have a significant impact on our ability to think and make decisions, but some mental habits consume such amount of resources as to affect our ability to think clearly. The interesting thing is that most people are not aware that these psychological habits are so harmful, so to continue to nourish them and slip into a downward spiral.
1. Brooding negative ideas
Facing a negative event is understandable that we can’t erase it right away and leave it behind. In fact, sometimes, keep it up in our minds trying to find imaginary solutions helps us release tension and has a cathartic power. But when this becomes a habit and you can’t get rid of these negative ideas, you will end agonizing, and your emotional health as well as the physical one will suffer. When you continually relive in your mind the facts that worry you, your ability to concentrate will decrease considerably because it is like looking at the world through gray lenses.
2. Unresolved guilts
We all feel guilty from time to time for something we did wrong, or not as we wished. But when guilt does not abandon us it turns into a cognitive distraction that affects heavily our capacity and eventually causes some emotional damage. When you feel guilty your self-esteem is reduced, you develop a negative image of yourself and you’re not able to take advantage of good opportunities because you think not to deserve it. Therefore, feeding guilt will make you feel very unhappy and will immerse you in a cycle of negativity.
3. Ineffective complaints
Most people tend to share their frustrations with those next to them. Sometimes complaining has a cathartic power, it allows you release anger and frustration and feel lighter. But when complaints become the norm, when you see only the negative part in everything that happens, you lose the other part of the picture, and run the risk of making rash decisions. Remember that complaining means always chose the most negative part and focus on the limits. Moreover, complaints are like vampires that drain your energy, so it is not surprising that several studies have established that the complaints are a poison for the brain.
4. Constant Criticism
We all criticize in some occasion, criticism comes from our tendency to confront and are not always negative. However, if you become an extremely critical person, who is not satisfied with anything, not even himself, you’re going to assume a hypervigilant attitude, and you’ll always be chasing the mistakes of others or your own. Obviously, living constantly in this state will take you a large bill to pay, at cognitive and emotional level.
5. Unnecessary concerns
When we have a problem, it is normal that it fills our minds as we try to find a solution. But if instead of looking for possible solutions you’re constantly worried, even for problems that do not exist yet, you’ll transform yourself in the typical person who has troubles for each solution. The concern will keep your mind constantly distracted, looking for troubles everywhere. If you’re concerned your mind neglects everything else, because it considers that it is not important, and will focus only on the concerns, generating much anxiety and distress.