August 09, 2006
Using Your Brain For A Change: Part Three
We have been talking about the way the brain operates, the interface between mental activity and actual physical formations of neurons that reflect and mediate that mental activity. This is a very controversial area, and up to this point in history, there has been a heavy debate about whether what we call mental activity is merely a sideshow with no real effect on the physiology of our brains (and bodies for that matter), or if what we think and believe effects on our physical selves.
Well, the answer is coming from recent research and it supports the notion that what we think really matters. From this we have been talking about how we can utilize that reality to some good effect in our own lives. We learned that attention is the ruler of the kingdom of the brain; wherever we put it, that domain grows and rules our imagination and behaviors. Change attention and its focus and you literally change your mind.
Okay, we spoke about how altering the focus of your attention takes some real heavy lifting and high motivation, but once you get some momentum going, then real results will emerge from the effort. Among the techniques we spoke about were basically focusing away on alternative experiences. This takes hard work but your brain will eventually yield to any real movement in shifting your attention. Depending on what your attention has been focused on, you will experience it as difficult or less demanding.
Among the means of changing your mind are the simple processes of self questioning. Questions open the mind. What we find difficult and obstinate about how we create brain configurations that resist change is the growing certainty and expectation that nothing we do can alter the outcomes. We expect things to always be the same.
By asking yourselves simple questions — such as "What about this troubles me so?" or "Do I really want to believe that this means I cannot do otherwise than I have done in the past?" or "What am I afraid would happen if I were not so troubled by this belief, experience, etc.?" — you begin to create cracks in the walls of your own habits of thinking.
The act of questioning that certainty we have come to expect from the knotty habits of the mind that sometimes infect and dominate our thinking and behaviors is a wonderful way to subvert what seems inevitable and prove to ourselves that we can do otherwise. The resolution is in our own hands despite how the operation of our brains may make it seem.
The idea then is not to despair or give up on yourself. Join a group that is focused on finding resolutions and alternatives to problems; one that emphasizes the positive about you and points to your strengths and capabilities and not only to your deficits and shortcomings. Find someone you trust and can talk to and who will not be judgmental. Sometimes a professional person will fill that role well. Do that and let me know how it goes.
Frank Mosca Ph.d. is a licensed mental health counselor, life and marital coach with a practice in Hampton Bays and Garden City. Inquire about his putting minds in motion seminars by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.