“Have you ever bought a gadget and not read the instruction manual, fumbling about trying to make it work and knowing you aren’t really getting the best out of it? That’s how we’re using our brains! We use as little as 10% of it’s full capacity and it’s my mission to improve that. Over the next 12 months I’ll be taking you through your own instruction manual for your brain so that you can be less stressed and anxious and be more motivated and productive – the very best version of you!”
Can We Really Re-train Our Brains?
“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” This old proverb must have been said millions of times over the years but is it really true? Is the notion that we can’t change our ways or learn new skills out dated?
Less than 50 years ago scientists thought that by the time we hit our late teens our brains had become hard wired. But modern science and technology has given us new insight which puts a whole new light on the subject. With the wonders of modern medical scanners we have discovered that our brains are constantly re-wiring themselves, something scientists refer to as neuroplasticity – our brain’s ability to change and reorganize itself by forming new connections between brain cells. So not so hard wired after all!
Fascinating stuff for the scientists to discover but what does that mean for us on a daily basis? Are we able to influence how that re-wiring happens? Can we start to train our brain just like we train our bodies?
Absolutely! Think of our amazing brains as being like a computer. We can constantly update them to be better and faster, we can create new programmes to make tasks more efficient and accurate and we can delete old data and progammes that are no longer relevant.
That’s exactly what goes on in our brains, that’s what scientists mean by neuroplasticity. But, just like a computer, this stuff doesn’t happen all by itself. Someone needs to be giving the instructions! And that someone is you!
You see, our brains are designed to act on what we predict will happen next.
So, lets say we head off to a meeting at work expecting it to be a nightmare; we don’t think our boss likes us; we’re not entirely sure we’re good enough to be doing this job anyway and we’re dreading being found out. Based on this information our brain goes in to it’s threat response. It starts scanning all the millions of pieces of information thrown at it every second to back up our assessment of this threatening situation ignoring all the other bits of information that might tell us otherwise. It also starts looking back through all our past experiences to see what we have done in the past that could help keep us safe. We know if we’re in a threatening situation it’s probably best not to make eye contact and to stay as quiet and as small as we can so that we aren’t drawing attention to ourselves – a strategy that’s likely to keep us safe. It’s also a strategy that will come across to other people in the room as unfriendly and lacking in confidence. So they start treating us accordingly and our prediction of a nightmare meeting comes true!
So let’s start that meeting again shall we? Only this time we’re looking forward to the meeting as it’s our opportunity to prove our abilities and get noticed as we’re hoping for a pay rise. Our brain will look back through our past experiences and see what we have done in the past that could help us here. We might remember a programme we watched about body language and subconsciously start to hold ourselves more upright so we look more confident; we remember those confident friends we so wish we could be like and identify what they do differently, so we might make eye contact and smile at everyone as we enter the room; we might make an effort to make small talk to build relationships so people remember us. Your brain will also start scanning looking for opportunities, so when someone mentions a bit of work they are struggling with you might step in and offer to help so that you can showcase your skills.
It’s the same meeting but a completely different outcome. Our brain re-wires itself to help us achieve what we are expecting. So changing our expectations is one way we can influence the wiring in our brain. That is neuroplasticity in action! And if we want to fix that wiring in place the key is in repetition. The more we repeat an action the stronger that wiring will get.
So yes, we can teach old dogs new tricks! Yes we can re-train our brain. But the key lies in giving the right instructions to your brain, taking charge of setting the expectations of what we want to happen helps your brain to filter out the relevant information and re-wire itself accordingly.
But it takes practice to master any new skill, particularly re-training your brain, and this is where hypnotherapy comes in, helping you understand how to work with your brain to achieve the results you want and fast forwarding the re-wiring process so you get their quicker.
Caroline is a clinical hypnotherapist practicing from her therapy room in rural Northamptonshire near Thrapston within easy reach of Kettering, Huntingdon, Northampton and Bedford. She works using a Solution Focused approach which eliminates stress and anxiety creating positive outcomes without any need to dwell in the past.
To find out more about how hypnotherapy could help you achieve your goals contact Caroline on 07729 801 247 and book in for a FREE initial consultation.