Most of us don’t even think about how our brains help us with every aspect of our lives. We are able to go through our daily routines without realizing what an integral role each brain “department” plays in our ability to perform tasks, remember facts, make decisions, read nonverbal cues, experience emotions and so on.
Whether it’s learning new things, breaking old habits, changing beliefs, shifting perceptions, overcoming difficult circumstances and mastering new skills -- all of these profound and meaningful changes begin in the brain . . . Therefore, it’s helpful to understand the fundamentals of how brain change works.
Examples of brain change:
Learning a new language
Increasing your ability to focus
Improving decision-making skills
Shifting the way you respond to conflict
Changing your patterns in interpersonal relationships
How it’s built:
When a baby is born, his/her brain only weights ¾ pound (but triples in size within 12 months). An infant’s brain starts off with about 100 billion neurons but only 17% of these are actually connected to each other. The 17% that are already connected or “wired together” control very basic functions like urinating, defecating, crying to communicate hunger etc. The remaining neurons have yet to “fire” – this takes time and experience. The majority of our brain’s circuitry has yet to form. Thus, a baby’s brain is almost a blank canvas – open and ready for all sorts of brain change.
Contrary to what scientists believed throughout the past century, the brain is not “static” or unchanging after a certain age. Recent discoveries about neuroscience and brain development (referred to as “neuroplasticity”) have proven these old assumptions incorrect. The brain is actually “plastic” or “moldable” and very capable of changing throughout the life span. Since our brains are “elastic,” they are able to shut down old pathways of thought and form new ones – at any time or any age. The brain’s ability to be malleable translates into the ability to change our mind, to change ourselves and our perception of the world around us. In essence, we can change our reality through brain change.
Why is this good news? Because it means you aren’t bound by past experiences, beliefs, assumptions or ways of thinking. You can literally “rewire” your brain to be happier and healthier at any time in your life. You can effect permanent brain change by firing new circuitry, making new neurological patterns to work in a different way. By altering your brain’s typical firing pattern and strengthening new changes of brain cell connections – you change the hardwiring of your brain.
We have far more power to alter our own brains, behavior, personality and reality than previously thought possible. We can choose – at any time – to initiate a BRAIN CHANGE.
How does brain change happen?
One of the biggest factors that molds our brain is experience. Experience has a big impact on which neural connections survive and which ones wither away. With each experience, our brain cells (called neurons) “fire.” When neurons “fire” together, they form connections between them. Neurons that “fire together” then “wire together”. As time goes on, these connections grow stronger and develop neural pathways. These pathways influence how we think, how we interpret situations around us and how we respond.
For example, when you view the picture, what image jumps out at you? If you are like most, you probably see a duck or goose (with a long, open beak). What if you were to look for a different image? Can you find the rabbit?
In order for you to shift from “seeing” one image to an entirely different one, you had to shift your neural circuitry from concepts of a feathered creature fond of water to a small, fuzzy one with whiskers! Congratulations! You just accomplished a brain change! Essentially, you “shifted” your brain from one direction to another. In so doing, your actual experience of “reality” also changed.
In the same way, YOU can change a way of thinking, feeling, doing, perceiving or behavior. You can literally learn to see yourself . . . and the world . . . differently. What might be possible in your life if you initiated a brain change?
For additional support about developing more effective thoughts, patterns and behaviors in your life, call us at the Center for Growth in Center City. 267-324-9564