Our brains and our minds are very plastic and malleable. We can programme ourselves in some respect and we can be programmed too, so this is a double-edged sword. Our mind can work to our benefit, or our minds can be our downfall.
In recent years, the malleability of our minds has gained greater attention, the regeneration and increasingly new neural pathways that our minds and brains can map out are truly amazing.
We can define neuroplasticity as:
“Neuroplasticity: The brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment.
Brain reorganization takes place by mechanisms such as “axonal sprouting” in which undamaged axons grow new nerve endings to reconnect neurons whose links were injured or severed. Undamaged axons can also sprout nerve endings and connect with other undamaged nerve cells, forming new neural pathways to accomplish a needed function.”
Psychological therapy essentially re-programmes our minds and how we look at things that affect us. We can re-programme our minds and our experiences so that we have a different attitude. By changing the memories of what occurred, we can essentially change our past. We can rationalize experiences and change our attitude towards them, and that is essentially what psychological therapy does.
It sounds a little like delusion, but if we change our attitude and what we remember and how we approach those memories, and we learn by changing our attitude towards our past, we could affect the limitations that we put on ourselves.
We are programmable and the programmes that we run seem to translate into our circumstances, so we should change the programmes we run in our minds, and not limit ourselves, but this is easier said than done.
It is a continual work of renewing and refreshing our mind until it runs the programme that will benefit our lives.
I like the thought model that Dr Caroline Leaf (cognitive neuroscientist) uses. We can grow a strong, vibrant tree in our minds and nourish our minds with good positive thinking and emotions, or we can grow a toxic tree, which poisons our minds and limits us in negativity.
Moran Cerf, a neuroscientist I was watching a while ago, was talking about how they reprogrammed smokers' minds while they slept. They used the smell of rotten eggs, and linked it to the smell of cigarettes, while the smokers slept, and when they woke up, they suddenly did not want to smoke anymore as they associated that unpleasant smell with smoking.
One of the greatest and most empowering mental exercises we can do, is to change the narrative that we run in our minds, to change the way we see ourselves, if we keep running negative and self-defeating narratives we end up being negative and defeated.
Once we realise just how exceptional our minds and bodies are, we can change the negative thought cycles and run a ‘new programme.’ The past can teach us, but not limit us if we look at the past more objectively, like a student studying a subject.
We can be students of our past and similarly, we can be students of our future, meaning that we should see everything, every situation, and experience as something to learn from. When we approach our future as students of life, it gives us a new perspective and removes our egos, which are often the main reason that we limit our potential.
There is a lot to be said for humbling ourselves to the learning and the teaching we receive from life. By humbling ourselves, I mean to the process, not disrespecting ourselves or thinking less of ourselves. Rather, a change in attitude to change our brain and our minds.
We don’t learn when we don’t pay attention to ourselves and our surroundings. Being constantly distracted and over stimulated leads to little bits of nothing in the end. To really learn and change behaviour and our thinking, takes a deep focus, and placing limitations on distractions.
Think of studying any subject. Without the focus and clarity of mind, you will not pass that exam or remember any knowledge in order to pass that exam. The same is true when we are students of life.
Most successful, busy, driven people spend little time on social media. Their thoughts are not fragmented, but they are single-minded about achieving their goals. There is power in focus and understanding, contemplation, analysis, learning and decision making. Articles on various sites showed that successful and high-powered business people spend around 2 to 3 hours on social media a week, whereas the general population spends around 14 hours or more a week on social media. Different, of course, if you are actually making money from social media on your own channel.
It’s clear that our thinking and the self narrative we run grows us or limits us. We can use our past as a powerful learning tool, removing ourselves from the emotion of the situations we recall and looking at them objectively. There is no such thing as failure, there are just opportunities to learn.
Focus and the nourishment of positive thoughts and teachings can assist us in mental health and lead us to a more successful future. Renew your mind daily, run a new and better self narrative, and change yourself from the inside.
We cannot change our past, but we can derive value from it and set up a renewed, more positive and successful future.