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Train Your Brain

Mental Models

Mental models are the concepts, frameworks, or worldviews we have. We use them to interpret and make sense of our world. They drive our behaviors and actions.

You have them. I have them. Everyone has them. Mental models are the way our brain has been trained by our life experiences to process and react to things that happen. While mental models are unique to an individual, you can play an active role to proactively train your brain by understanding your current mental models, reframing them, and/or create new ones. The more mental models you have, the more ways you can approach and solve problems. You can view the problem through different lenses and avoid having one mental model dominate your way of thinking. This resource works well for individuals who are looking to change their behavior, but they just can't. This resource may be of limited value to those who are not open to new ideas and/or ways of thinking. 

Let me walk you through an example:

When my manager asks for my input on business decisions, I always am in agreement with her. I recently received feedback that my team, including my boss, would like me share my viewpoint more often.

In reflecting on this, I come to the conclusion that I don’t provide my input because I have the belief that “the boss is always right.”

Can I reframe this mental model to change the way I react to my manager asking me for my input? I sure can.  I can come to the realization that my boss is more likely to be right after receiving input and feedback from others.

By identifying and reflecting on challenges in life and work, you can train your brain to identify the mental models you use to guide your decisions and reframe them if they are holding you back.

Reference the picture below:

When something happens (A), your brain automatically starts working to help you interpret what happened (B) and how you respond to what happened (C). 

Rather than let your brain and body automatically react, you can consciously interject on this automatic process by taking time to reflect and understand how you interpret what happened and be deliberate and more thoughtful about how you respond.

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Adapted from: The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life's Hurdles Authors: Andrew Shatté and Karen Reivich

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