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Transform Your Brain With the New Science of Kindness
- Read in 15 minutes
- Audio & text available
- Contains 9 key ideas
Mindsight (2010) introduces the reader to the many factors that shape the way we react to life’s challenges. Emotional responses are tied to our bodies, brains and childhood experiences. With mindsight, we can learn to manage our emotions in order to improve our relationships and well-being.
Key idea 1 of 9
Mindsight allows us to learn about the connections between mind, body and attitude.
Have you ever been in the middle of an important discussion when something pushes you over the edge? You might suddenly grow angry, your mind might go blank or perhaps you’ll feel an uncontrollable urge to leave the room as quickly as possible. Sound familiar?
Many of us experience reactions like this. They can be deeply confusing, leaving us at a loss to explain our own behavior. To understand these situations, we need to understand our internal worlds – and to do this, we need mindsight.
Mindsight is the skill that allows us to reflect on the connection between the body and the mind. This is central to learning how to regulate powerful emotions. Mindfulness techniques such as meditation are examples of mindsight, as they increase our awareness of our heartbeat and breathing.
But mindsight isn’t just something to practice when you have quiet time to yourself; it is a tool that you can use when life gets loud, messy and overwhelming. For instance, watching your kids scream and fight over food can make you upset. However, your children aren’t the direct cause of your growing distress – it’s your increasing heart rate.
By turning your attention and awareness to your heart rate, you can learn to regulate its influence on your emotions and get a better grip on the situation before you. By remaining calm and patient, you’ll be able to settle the conflict between your children, rather than exacerbate it by reacting with frustration.
As well as looking into your own internal landscape, mindsight encourages us to see the world through the eyes of those around us. This is something all humans are innately capable of, even though we often take it for granted; without the capacity for empathy, we would struggle immensely.
This is a challenge faced by Barbara, one of the author’s patients. During a car accident, the mother of three suffered damage to her prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that enables us to use mindsight to empathize with others. Having lost her sense of empathy, Barbara has struggled to maintain caring relationships with her kids and friends.
So what does a life with good mindsight look like? Let’s take a closer look in the next blink.