Understanding Your Brain: You’re So Complex

You’re So Complex

Albert_Einstein_1947a“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
― Albert Einstein

 

Do you believe that you are responsible for your current situation? Do you feel that deep down on some intrinsic level you created your job? Your relationships? Your world?

 

Don’t worry; this isn’t going to be a metaphysical message about positive affirmations and unicorns. Although in complete disclosure, I like them both. This is actually a message about your brain’s innate complexity and your ability to change your world.Unicorn_white_heightening

Let’s face it; change is inevitable. The only question is whether you are going to have something to say about it.

In order to understand how we got where we are, we need to know a little bit about the brain and neuroplasticity. When we understand how the neurons in our brains work, we can enhance our experiences in many ways. Each neuron fires an electrical impulse to another and another just like electrical impulse flow through wires. When the billions of neurons in your head release chemicals into those neural pathways, you create your world.

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This idea of neural networks begins to explain how complex we really are. There are billions of neurons in your brain talking to each other and the more they talk, the stronger that connection becomes. That’s neuroplasticity. Why are some behaviors or habits hard to change? It’s hard to kick a habit because those neural pathways are well worn. Those neurons have been talking for some time, and they are used to chatting.212032_three_ladies_gossiping

However, neuroplasticity is also what allows us to make changes in our thinking and in our behavior. When you have a new thought or look at a situation in a new way, new neurons connect in a new pattern. You have a new experience and that allows you to develop a new skill or change a thought pattern. A physical change in the brain creates change in the nervous system every time you experience something different in thought, emotion or behavior. You are literally changing the structures of the neurons in your brain.

For example, a brain that never used a smart phone is different from a brain that uses one. Just the action of swiping your thumb across the screen changes your brain. The more you glide your thumb or other fingers across the screen, the more you create a new neural pathway in the brain. The action is different than any you have used consistently before, and the brain has to learn and remember how to open the screen, text, and check the email using these new hand motions.

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Neuroplasticity applies to thoughts, feelings and emotions, too. Every time we make a choice, we create a focus for the brain and neurons talk to each other. They are either strengthening the connections that are already there or they are creating new connections.
What happens when someone gets angry with you? Do you react or respond? If someone is frustrated and decides to take his anger out on you, what do you do? How do you feel? Do you take the criticism personally? We often go down the rabbit hole of “he’s just a jerk”, “life isn’t fair”, “everyone is out to get me”, “no one understands me”, “no good deed goes unpunished”….did I strike a chord yet?

So, instead of following one of those perhaps well-worn paths, how about taking a step back and removing your emotional attachment to the situation. What do you see? Can you see a person in pain? Do his words allow you to hear someone so afraid or insecure that he has to criticize you to take the spotlight off himself? Did you know that when someone has an opinion of you that it has very little to do with you? Those projections are just that person’s own issues projected out onto you. It is not about you.

screamingwoman

So for just a moment, can you feel another’s pain and frustration enough to feel a little compassion instead of anger or rejection? I am not asking you to excuse bad behavior, just recognize that all behavior is not what it seems. When you can step back and understand that the other person is hurting and doesn’t have the best coping skills, it can take some of the sting out of the situation.

Even more than not reacting in anger, you can begin to create a greater insight and perspective on life. By making a choice of compassion instead of anger, you develop new neural pathways that allow you to see, hear, and experience the world in new ways. Learning to feel compassion for one pissy person can actually change your whole world.

Why? Because creating a new neural pathway in your brain of compassion gives you greater objectivity the next time you find yourself in a similar situation. You weren’t just verbally attacked by a raving lunatic; you came across person in pain and chose to raise the vibration instead of jumping into his angry little ocean. Isn’t that easier? This feeling of compassion puts you in charge of your own emotions, thoughts and actions. This change in thinking gives you greater control of your own life and how you see the world changes. Further, you just might see or begin to understand other areas of your life that could use a little more compassion. Maybe even feel a tad more compassion toward yourself?

Repetition shapes who we become. If we react with anger and criticism to anger and criticism, those become our automatic reactions. If we respond with understanding and compassion, those become automatic over time. When we understand that the choices of what we focus on shape our brains, we develop a new level of awareness.

You are incredibly complex, no question about it. So why not use some of that complexity to create the world you want? Remember, you are the one in charge of your world. Go find a pissy person to practice on.

2 Comments

  1. Lisa
    Mar 10, 2013

    “Repetition shapes who we become.” – LOVE that line! Literally, the more times you make the same connection in the brain, the stronger that pathway becomes!

  2. Ilene
    Jul 23, 2013

    Love your blog Jeri. Sounds like you are a fellow student of “A Course in Miracles”

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