mental health Mandy Kloppers

Tune in to your control centre

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I was walking with my dog today and I thought about ways to monitor thoughts and what I focus on. I imagined that I had a control centre – as if there is a place with cameras, screens, keyboards and various instruments that ‘control’ what I focus on.

This may sound odd but imagine for a moment that you are controlled by an outside source. You are the conduit and the control centre sees the world through your eyes. Your eyes are the cameras and what you see is transmitted through to this cognitive control centre.

As you live your life, there are others continually logging in to view the world through your eyes.

Cognitive defusion

What would they see? What might there be too much of…or too little of? It’s an interesting concept – one that Cognitive Behavioural Therapists try to instil though cognitive defusion. Cognitive defusion is a technique that involves separating your thoughts from you. Thoughts are overrated.

When you consider someone being able to log in to your view of the world at any time, it encourages you to be more aware of what you focus on and the stories you tell yourself about what you focus on.

This emotional distance helps to be more objective and refocus on what’s useful and congruent with our values.

Be indistractable

When you know what you want and you have a plan, you will be more focused and be less easily distracted. We all need a sense of purpose and it’s a great idea to start with a concrete plan. Make the plan as specific as possible with the specific steps to take. You can break the task down into stages and tackled each stage separately.

Once you know what you want – take action. Bein one of 5-10% of people that actually follow up on their values and goals instead of those that talk and do nothing. At the end of your life – you will thank your younger self for ‘doing’ rather than just pondering and procrastinating. Rather, it’s better to try and fail than be left with “what ifs” forever and possibly regrets.

Focus, writw down the plan, problem solve and execute the goals, one step at a time. It doesn’t necessarily matter how slow you go as long as you are going in the right direction.

Visualise the plans up in the cognitive control centre – what is needed? What must be focused on. If the control centre tunes in now, will they be pleased with your progress.

The cognitive control centre isn’t all about achievement – it’s about balance too. So, time out is JUST AS IMPORTANT as the productive time.

Examples of what the cognitive control centre ‘of you’ approves of:

Creating goals

Living according to your values (such as honesty, adventure, helping others, socialising, reading, studying, working etc.)

Self-care in any form – personal hygiene, sleep, exercise, eating healthy food, taking a holiday to refresh yourself and reinvigorate yourself


Spending time with good people such as friends, family, mentors, people who inspire you

Fun, laughter and playtime – skiing, hobbies, playing with pets and animals, spending time in nature, golf, scuba diving etc

Being in love with someone who cares for you and respects you

Entertainment – movies, drinking with friends, dining out, travelling

Volunteering – helping the plant, charity work, cleaning up the planet, saving endangered species, protecting the poor

Promoting justice and wellbeing, fairness, anti-discrimination, tolerance for others, being non-judgemental, social justice

Making a difference to Earth – environmentalism, creating new laws to help people, helping to improve people’s quality of life, kindness

Inspiring others

The above are a few examples to give you an idea of healthy living that will maintain mental health and fulfilment

Displaying assertive behaviour and healthy boundaries


Examples of what the cognitive control centre ‘of you’ finds unhelpful to focus on:

Overthinking and ruminating

Addictive behaviours – excessive drug taking, alcohol, etc

Cruelty, selfishness, arrogance, bigotry, dishonesty, deceit etc

Self-sabotaging behavior such as being passive-aggressive, ‘cutting off you nose to spite your face’, harm to others

Abusive behaviour – mental, physical and/or emotional, taking advantage of others

Catastrophizing, making assumptions

Caring too much about what others think of you


Letting fear limit you

Lack of self-belief and not achieving your true potential

Wrecking the planet

Greed, avarice

Showing no empathy to others

Not protecting the vulnerable

Theft, illegal activities that hurt others


Being a rigid thinker

Avoiding life

Spending too much time in your head and not focusing on the world around you (mindfulness)







Photo by Fotis Fotopoulos on Unsplash



Mandy Kloppers
Author: Mandy Kloppers

Mandy is a qualified therapist who treats depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, trauma, and many other types of mental health issues. She provides online therapy around the world for those needing support and also provides relationship counselling.

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