Chapter 28 — A bit more control.

I feel the power.

I’ve done a lot to change and improve myself this past year. I’ve become more conscious about how I act and treat people, how my actions and words make people feel, and I’ve become more conscious of myself. I’m not sure what this sudden and overwhelming desire to think intelligently about everything I do is or where it’s come from, but I like it.

It drives me.

I used to see myself as a bit of an uncontrolled over-thinker. A thought-tinkerer.

A little niggle would sometimes jiggle my mind and I’d capture it. I’d keep it at the forefront of my thinking and roll it down an imaginary hill, letting it pick up size and pace. That niggle which was once small suddenly started to transform in to a big nuisance. I’d find myself distracted by something that should have been swept aside as soon as I became aware of it.

Over-thinking is dangerous if you don’t control it. Although, when you’re young, you can’t always be blamed for not being fully behind the wheel of your thinking.

When you’re an adult, there’s less room for excuses.

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor

I’m a massive fan of TEDTalks. If you haven’t heard of TED, it’s a set of worldwide conferences that host the best speakers with the best ideas. And no, it has nothing to do with the film featuring a talking bear.

I’m reading a book at the moment called Talk Like TED. Like everything I read at the moment, it’s a self-improvement book, helping you become better at public speaking through analysis of the most popular TED speakers.

It’s a pretty simple concept, and I’d highly recommend the book even if you never intend on speaking publically.

Anyway, one of the speakers analysed is Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist who has done a few TED talks in her time. I think about my overthinking past quite frequently (ironic, right?) and so as soon as the author brought up Dr. Jill’s 2013 TEDxYouth@Indianapolis presentation, I thought it would be worth a watch.

So I watched it. And what I learned was incredibly interesting and relatable to how I was when I was over-thinking during my teenage years.

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor at TEDxYouth@Indianapolis, 2013.

Everyone is different while, at the same time, being the same. We all react differently to certain things, but the reason we react (or don’t react) to certain things is down to the same reason. Our brains.

See, when we move through puberty, we literally lose half of our minds. Seriously, I shit you not. Half of the synaptic connections in our brain change. Naturally, it makes our brains panic a bit.

That gives biological reasoning to mood swings and aggression and a total shift in what you like and who we hang out with. It’s not our fault, it’s just what happens.

Fascinating, isn’t it?

Our mood swings are down to an uncomfortable brain. A brain which takes another decade or so to get completely comfortable again.

Maybe my new-found obsession with controlled consideration of thoughts is because my brain is starting to get a lot more comfortable with who and what I am. I have more awareness because everything is settling down. My PreFrontal cortex (the last part of the brain to fully develop) is now fully re-attached. Or near enough.

But what about the rest of us? I’m grateful for my increased awareness of my thoughts and decisions and my actions and my overall control. But what about everyone else? I’m just one guy. There need to be more who lend an ear to how they act, react, think and feel.

We live in a left-brain dominated society, so change might be a bit tough. Dr. Jill appears to hate our left-brain dominated society.

We reward people for what they do rather than who they are. We care about the me rather than the we. We focus on personal gain rather than community. We focus on profits rather than people. We strive for authority rather than equality. We seek differences rather than similarities. We are competitive rather than compassionate. We are judgemental rather than forgiving. We are very left brain vs right brain.

I can’t help but agree with her.

Be more right brain people.

Everything else…

I had a Parklife ticket for today but I didn’t go due to lack of funds and general hatred of the English weather. After writing this Chapter, I don’t feel quite as sad for missing out on what was probably a class day, regardless of the ridiculous amount of rain.

If you want to browse TED Talks, click here. And you can find Dr. Jill’s TEDx presentation on The Neuroanatomical Transformation of the Teenage Brain (yes I copied and pasted that) here.

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