How to Change a Life: Your’s, Your Childs, Anyone’s, Easily: Brain Science 101

Neuroplasticity shows us that our mental tracks that get laid down in our brain can lead to habits, good or bad. If we develop poor posture for example, it becomes hard to correct. If we develop good habits, they also become solidified. Is it possible, once “tracks" or neural pathways have been laid down, to get out of those paths and onto different ones? Yes, according to researchers, but it is difficult because, once we have created those tracks, they become "really speedy" and very efficient at guiding us “down the hill” of past behaviors. To take a different path becomes increasingly difficult. A roadblock of some kind is necessary to help us change direction. (Source: The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge M.D.)

Changing your life is one of the easiest, simplest and no-brainer activities that anyone regardless of age, intelligence and maturity can engage in. In fact research has shown that even rats and monkeys can learn to move a cursor on a video screen, play video games and manipulate robotic arms all with their thoughts and imaginings. I know what this looks like as you read it — stupid, nonsense and easily disregarded. But what if it were not only true but replicatable, documented and as accepted scientific fact? Brace yourself—it is.

That being said, if we can teach rats and monkeys to do things that most of us don't believe could be taught, what might be possible in the realm of teaching our children and ourselves things that are beyond the reach of what we believe to be possible?

Changing a life is something that does not even require intention or any special skill or knowledge. In fact as you are reading this you are "changing your brain" and thus changing your life. It is a fact. Your thoughts change your brain and your brain affects your thoughts and behaviors. Your brain does not control you, in fact you control your brain, if you don't so choose.

Simply said, every thought you have changes the structure of your brain. Granted, There are critical periods where these changes occur with greater ease, such as early childhood for example. And as we age, this process slows down a bit, but never really stops until maybe your last breath. It might be said, that for every thought there is a corresponding neural circuit that is triggered or stimulated. If it agrees with the current tracks in your brain, the effect is "sameness or rigidity” which only enhances the current neural pathways making them even stronger — or changed to make them stronger and more rigid, but changed nonetheless). If the new thought is different from the current pathway, a new branch or synapse sprouts. Either way, nothing remains the same as it was and “life is changed".

So you see, you cannot ‘not change’ your life at any and every moment—and the same is true for your child. If you want the same behavior to continue or engrained even more strongly in your child, merely reinforce that through your reactions and responses. (**For info on to do this detrimentally to your child, see reference to Bryan Post's article below).

Bishop TD Jakes says "if you always do what you've always done you'll always get what you always got". The Bible says, “As you sow, so shall you reap". This is not so much philosophy or religion but in fact the way life is. You get to decide which direction, and that is the exciting part! This is not someone doing it to us, it is we doing it to us! ("We have met the enemy and he is us" — Pogo)Brain That Changes Itself

So, how do you change your life? Think. Think either the same thoughts or different thoughts. Your brain doesn't care. You on the other hand may care deeply whether your life becomes more rigid and the "same", or more flexible and different.

So think, dear parents, think carefully and deeply about what you want, who you want to be and where you want to go. Be mindful of what those careless images and thoughts that run through your mind, and the input you take in from books, movies, television and others. They are changing you, like it or not along with your children. Of course, this applies even more so for your children as they are likely in those critical periods where plasticity runs at a much quicker pace. And this is where we parents come in. Not so much to "teach" them, but to help them bring out the best their "selves" — and this may not be what "we" want for them.

So lets find out who are children are. Who they want to be. What they want to do. And as we connect with them in the true spirit of education (Latin meaning to draw forth or led out). In effect, this is what facilitates learning and long term memory by removing the stressors which can inhibit the learning process.  Remember that "stress causes confused and distorted thinking and short-term memory loss". (A.N. Shore 2003, Affect Regulation and the Disorders of the Self, WW Norton).

“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Interesting, is it not?

If you have not devoured Norman Doidge M.D.'s book, The Brain That Changes Itself, get it on Amazon now. — David Durovy

**How Neurophysiologic Feedback Loops work in parenting, which when they arise unaware in your interactions with your child, can promote more of the same behaviors that we are trying so hard to eliminate.

The term “neurophysiologic” refers to both body and mind. We have body/mind feedback loops that are both positive and negative. Research has been able to determine that we communicate with one another and are connected to one another on a cellular level. In fact, every cell in our bodies contains a consciousness of sorts, along with all of our DNA. Is that a radical idea for you? I want you to begin to pay close attention to the dynamic when you and your child get into an interaction that involves negative words thrown back and forth. Look at how big the dynamic becomes.

Let me illustrate it through an exercise. Draw a small circle on a piece of paper right now. That’s your child saying, “No, I’m not going to do it.” Draw another little circle. That’s you saying, “Yes, you are!” The child says, “No, I’m not!” Then, you say, “Yes you are!” Draw the circles larger around each time. That’s the power of a negative feedback loop.” — Bryan Post

To read more of Bryan’s article on this topic read more here.