STRONGER TOGETHER: How the filter in our brain can help us focus on our goals

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"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya focuses on the Reticular Activating System in the human brain and how we can use it to help up us accomplish our goals.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

It’s often said that the human brain is like a supercomputer, and just like a computer it has various systems and filters that can be used to our advantage when we know how they work.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

One such system is the Reticular Activating System. A bundle of nerves located at the base of our brain, our RAS works like a filter processing the sensory information that we are exposed to; from images, to words, colour and sound.  

The average person is exposed to more than 74 GB in information a day, therefore our RAS will support us by setting filters on the information we feed it – what we focus on, what we tell ourselves, the information we consume, the people we spend time with.

Sometimes though, mindlessly exposing ourselves to information without considering what is most important to us can result in the consumption of social media and other content filled with misinformation, doctored images and toxic messages. This can become detrimental to our wellbeing if we don’t create awareness around it and check in with how it aligns to our own beliefs and worldview.

Fortunately, our RAS can help us with this.

Imagine this.

If you struggling to get fit, write down what you need to do to get fit. Put that list somewhere that you will see it, write your main goal in big letters so that it stands out, read fitness blogs, get a personal trainer, create a vision board of things you want to achieve from being fit. Do whatever it takes to ensure that your RAS takes notice and supports you to reach your goal.

When we understand how our biology works, our RAS can be used to our advantage; the key is continual reinforcement, focus on what is important and consistency which can be achieved through the practice of positive mantras, vision boards and even visualisation.

Understanding the tools available within the human brain can be lifechanging, supporting us to focus on specific goals and take the necessary steps to achieve them.

Please note: This website may contain references to, or feature images, videos, and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have passed away.

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