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Deep-dive #3: The canvas of our mind

Updated: Jun 2

parthena intze, coach parthena, business coaching, leadership coaching, life coaching, coaching, thinking, overthinking, monkey mind, mood, feelings, needs, believes, emotions, patterns, memories, neurological patterns, transform, change, perspectives, options, self-sabotage, inner wisdom, choose your thoughts, feed the wolf, question, reflect, perspective. change perspective

Our mind just loves to think. Have you ever tried to sit calm and listen to your own thoughts for a couple of minutes? If you have then you might have heard a busy chatter of rambling, commentary, opinions, and judgements - whether you like it or not.

Think of your mind as a quiet, introspective art gallery, where each thought is a different painting hanging on the walls. These paintings, the thoughts that circulate through our consciousness, hold immense power over how we feel and perceive the world around us and how we think about ourselves. They shape the emotional and perceptual landscapes we navigate daily, often without us even realizing their impact.

Take, for example, how a single thought can influence our mood for an entire day: A positive reflection in the morning, such as excitement about an upcoming holiday, or a meet-up with our favorite person can paint our initial outlook with bright and hopeful colors. This thought acts like sunlight streaming through the gallery, illuminating everything in a warm glow. Conversely, a worry or fear can cast a shadow over our spirits, dimming our perceptions as if clouds suddenly covered the sky. The way we interpret challenges is also largely dictated by our thoughts. Faced with an arduous task, some of us could entertain a thought painted with resilience and determination, seeing the challenge as an opportunity to grow. Others might view it through a lens of anxiety or doubt, making the task appear more daunting than it is.

Where do our thoughts come from? Each thought is a unique piece, created by an “artist,” and every artist is different. What all artists have in common though is that they are constantly at work, drawing from a wide palette. The artist e.g., known as experience: Whether it is a morning jog, an afternoon at the movies, or a dinner with friends, these experiences provide the hues and shades that create new thoughts. Another artist is known as social interaction and conversation with other people: Deep, meaningful talks might add new textures, while casual chats might brighten the canvas with airy touches. Then, there is a special exhibit within the gallery were past artworks (aka “memories”) are displayed: These touch up old pieces or to draw inspiration for creating new ones that echo these former styles. Emotions are artists who affect the lighting in the gallery, changing how artworks are viewed: Joy might flood the space in our mind with bright light, making thoughts appear vivid and lively, while sadness might dim the lights, casting shadows that alter the mood of the thoughts on display.

And there is another incredibly special artist who in the ever-evolving art gallery of our mind: The most influential people in our life often function as “guest curators” who bring their own styles and preferences. These people are e.g., family members, friends, teachers, or mentors. They enter our thought gallery with their personal, unique palette and experience that can significantly influence the artworks we decide to create and display. They introduce new themes that might not have been that prominent before, and they often leave lasting impressions. The people we surround ourselves with shape not only the thoughts we have but also how we think, contributing to the ongoing curation of our mental landscapes.

How do thoughts do that? Within the architectural design of our mind there are pathways and lighting systems, i.e., neurological patterns that form our mental ecosystem. As we experience life, they adapt and change, influencing how our thoughts are created and displayed. Over time, pathways become more defined, like well-trodden paths between the most popular pieces because repeated thoughts and behaviors strengthen certain neural connections (see Deep-dive #2). For example, if we frequently engage in positive thinking, the pathways that promote optimism become brighter and more prominent. The gallery lights in these areas might be set to highlight artworks of hope and joy, making them more accessible and easier to view. Conversely, if negative thoughts are common, the pathways to darker, more somber sections of the gallery might be better lit or expanded, drawing more attention to these artworks.

Hence, the adaptive nature of our brain's neurological patterns (see Deep-dive #1) is our gallery's ability to redesign itself based on which artworks are visited most frequently. Just as a gallery might adjust its layout to enhance visitor experience, our brains adjust neural pathways to optimize the flow of thoughts based on our habits and preferences. This underscores the importance of consciously choosing which thoughts we entertain, as it shapes the long-term structure and function of our mind, influencing how we perceive and interact with the world around us.

Understanding the power of our thoughts is akin to holding a curator's key to our personal gallery. We might not always control the thoughts that come to us, but we can decide which ones to focus on and which to let fade into the background. By choosing our thoughts wisely and consciously, we can maintain a healthier perspective on life:

The essence of the nut:

Our mind is a canvas with endless possibilities. Every time we feel overwhelmed by our thoughts, it might be worth remembering hat in the studio of our mind, we are the curator or even the chief artist. We can always choose which artworks we allow into our galleries, which colors to highlight and which to downplay, crafting a world just as we wish it to be. By becoming mindful painters, we learn to guide our thoughts, and we can influence our emotional well-being and the lens through which we view our world.

We cannot "think away" challenges or paint over them with falsely bright colors. However, being aware of the nature of our thoughts provides us with some control over their influence. In other words: We can choose to linger in front of the uplifting paintings and, over time, add more of them to our collection. We can also learn to walk past the darker images without letting them dominate our space.

No matter our birthdate and thanks to our superhero brain’s neuroplasticity it is never too late for us to learn to paint wisely and playfully - and to enjoy the process of watching our world transform with each fresh stroke of thought.


How Coaching can support:

Coaching is like bringing in an “expert art critic” to our mind’s exhibition. A coach can help us understand the deeper meaning behind each piece, suggest new artworks, and guide us in arranging our gallery to best suit our desired atmosphere. By providing strategies, and new insights, coaching can assist us in transforming how we think, feel, and interact with the world.

Through conversations and exercises, it can highlight recurring themes in thoughts and beliefs that may be holding us back. By questioning the validity of our limiting beliefs and encouraging us to view situations from new perspectives, this can help to repaint old, unhelpful thoughts with new, empowering thinking patterns. Tools and techniques can help nurture more constructive and optimistic thinking to help us shift our focus from negative to positive. Over time, these practices can lead to a more resilient mindset. Ultimately, by helping to outline clear strategies and steps, and realistic, achievable goals, coaching can support us ensure that our thoughts are aligned with our actions.

Through coaching, we can learn to paint our world in more vibrant and positive hues, fundamentally changing how we perceive and react to our environment.


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