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Thinking about thinking: Days like these …


Days like these …

You get to work, and the printer is out of ink. The coffee pot is empty, and the wheel on your chair is squeaking. There was a power surge, and so all of the files that you had been working on the day before have been saved in that strange, recovery format that they never really recover from.

Some days, it just feels like everything is going wrong.

Emails arrive in batches, more and more, before any of them can be dealt with. And each one seems more urgent than the previous. All with a deadline of yesterday.

Some days, it seems like all you can notice are the things that are going wrong.

And it turns out, that our brain is wired in such a way that it filters what it is that we notice. It does this in order to help prevent us becoming overloaded with sensory inputs. There is so much going on around us that if we had to process each and every new piece of information before we could act, we would not get very far. So, while this filtering mechanism can be very helpful in some ways, it can be unhelpful in others. If we ‘set’ it to look for things that are going wrong, it is very efficient at doing so.

This can lead to the creation of self-fulfilling cycles. We think everything is going wrong, and while some things may be, our brain helpfully seeks out these things that are not quite right, in order to prove us right. Right in that everything is going wrong!

The foundation of resilience is our ability to think about thinking.  Everything we do is controlled by the brain.  We obviously have some involuntary actions such as the startle response and blinking and breathing.  However, most of what we do as humans is driven by our thoughts and our thinking styles. 

Being able to look at the way you think can be helpful in these situations. It can be a challenging process to start with, as often we don’t question how we think at all. But doing so can help enable you to view aspects of daily life differently. And this can help you respond differently to them.

So while the files on your desktop may still be corrupted, and the coffee may still have run dry, examining your thinking styles will help you be better placed for finding solutions. Including of thinking of finding your latte elsewhere.

And that will help you power through re-writing those files too.


Cognacity are a science-based company, offering evidence-based interventions which have an immediate and practical benefit to our clients’ ability to adapt to the challenges facing them. Our objective is always to deliver measurable benefits in areas such as wellbeing, engagement, productivity and performance.

Our approach is based on performance psychology principles frequently used in elite sports, and highlights the psychological factors involved in building resilience in a work environment. All our facilitators are registered professionals (psychologists and psychiatrists), ensuring we deliver the highest quality evidence-based work.

To find out how we can help optimise performance in your organisation please contact a member of the Cognacity team.

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