I’ve always been intrigued by the power of your thoughts and how the brain works. The mind is an incredible, complex part of who you are. Housed inside your brain, it’s a truly unique and remarkable organ that, unlike any other one in your body, has feelings and a consciousness. While you cannot see the mind like you can the brain, they work in partnership to determine how you react to situations and circumstances in your life. They also play a role in making decisions, being creative, taking initiative, and processing thoughts.

It’s essential to understand how your brain works—how you’re “wired”—and how you can use that knowledge to take control of your thoughts.

I never really thought about this until my major life transition. I’d heard of Sigmund Freud, the conscious and unconscious mind, and the ego, but it wasn’t until I redesigned my life that I became intrigued with the power of the mind. I read personal improvement books, listened to podcasts, and watched countless videos—like a sponge.

One recurring theme piqued my interest more than anything else: If you are going to succeed at anything, you must first have the right mindset.

So I decided to try to understand this amazing, beautiful part of who we are and the role it plays in creating the right mindset. The mind is intricate and, for me, especially intriguing. Just let me say that it’s not easy to wrap your head around how the brain and mind work (no pun intended).

The mind has been studied from across a variety of disciplines, some of which overlap. Neuroscience, for example, is the study of the human nervous system. Most neuroscientists focus their research on the brain and how it influences cognitive function and behavior, usually through a discussion of the left and right sides or hemispheres of the brain.

The left—the more logical, analytical, and rational side—works on known principles. Anything unknown is perceived as wrong and possibly dangerous which leads to…well, fear.

For example, every time I see a snake slithering anywhere near me, I panic. I’ve been known to do the “snake dance” to the amusement of my hiking companions. While I’ve never been bitten (and probably never even been close), I know poisonous snakes live nearby. The snake slithering in front of me is an unknown threat and therefore potentially dangerous. Fear kicks in every time. And voilà—snake dance.

The same thought process occurs when you’re faced with a problem or you’re contemplating changes in your professional life, especially if it means you’ll be pursuing something new or different. The fear of the unknown or of failure will kick in and, before you know it, your left hemisphere will logically tell you to stay right where you are, safe and comfy (if not running from the snake or doing the dance).

The right hemisphere is often referred to as the artist’s side of the brain. It is more subjective, creative, intuitive, and random. Even if you think you don’t have a creative bone in your body—you can’t carry a tune or everything you draw looks like a stick figure—that doesn’t mean you’re not creative. When you took that side road to avoid traffic, you were being innovative. When you added a little something extra to spice up a recipe, you were being imaginative.

You don’t have to be a musician or an author to be considered gifted. So even if you’re more the analytical type, know that you can tap into this side of the brain when necessary. Because, in fact, you already do.

Neuroscience shows that the two hemispheres are interconnected and constantly communicating. That’s good news because this means the whole brain is involved in processing information regardless of how analytical or artistic the task might be.

This is important because to think outside the box, get creative in solving problems, or pursue your dreams with gusto, you have to understand how your mind works. Your thoughts can either derail you or keep you on the path. Left unchecked, the inner critic that lives in the left hemisphere of your brain (the logical side) will shower you with limiting beliefs and negative thoughts, often disguised as the truth. If you assume these thoughts are true, you’ll get derailed.

But, there are ways you can get more comfortable using that creative side so you can pursue your dreams with passion and resilience. Stay tuned.

Hope you enjoyed learning a bit about how you’re wired! If you want to learn how to apply these mindset tips to help you set your day up for success, check out my Stage Your Day to Slay Your Day at christinestallard.com.