At last months ‘More for parents’ night I shared a revelation I had from Sparky earlier that day…
“Listen to me more.”
We did an activity where we wrote down all the things that were ‘right’ in our lives, in other words what we were grateful for and what was working. The lovely Bren mentioned that she had just finished reading, ‘The brain that changes itself’ by Norman Doidge and that what Sparky said to do would in fact ‘rewire our brains to think and believe Sparky things instead of Shady things’.
A-ha, I thought, it has been a year or so since I checked out the research so I might do that when I get home. Well it took me a couple of days but with the help of Google here it is in simple ‘Kath speak’…
It seems neuroscience (science of the brain), quantum mechanics (science of very small pieces of matter) and mindfulness (the state of being aware) all work very well together when it comes to rewiring our brains.
If you have 29 minutes, are up for some technical jargon and are open to some cool ideas and strategies to manage your thoughts (that happen to be mostly compatible with Sparky and Shady), check out Dr Jeffrey Schwartz https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcrGlUHlu4M as he explains the main points in his latest book ‘You are not your brain’.
In summary he says that our brains have a tendency towards ‘cognitive distortions’ (Shady thoughts) and that these thoughts are rarely true or helpful. He also suggests that becoming more mindful (or aware) of our thoughts and by listening more to our ‘Wise advocate’ (Sparky!) we can rewire our minds to focus on the more loving thoughts and beliefs from our Wise advocate which allow us to become our ‘True selves’ and reach our potential! (Wowsers right!) This he says is compatible with quantum mechanics because as quantum physicists know, “Your brain becomes what you focus on”.
The 4-step process Schwartz suggests for overcoming ‘cognitive distortions’ (Shady thoughts) is (with Sparky and Shady similarities in brackets):
- Relabel – Identify the intrusive thought as uncomfortable (Notice that you feel bad because you are listening to Shady.)
- Reframe – Say why this thought keeps bothering you (Listen to Shady.)
- Refocus – Focus your attention on something else (Ask Sparky, “What now?”)
- Revalue – Identify the original thoughts as deceptive (Be mindful or aware of the fact that it was a Shady thought that made you feel bad in the first place and that after all that it probably wasn’t true or helpful!)
In terms of being compatible with a short cut or Pit Stop – basically all that is missing in these four steps is getting your feelings out. I haven’t found a neuroscientist who espouses the importance of expressing your feelings yet – but that’s not to say there isn’t one out there! Do you know of any? How about I do some up to date research on why expressing our feelings is important and get back to you in next fortnight’s post?
So for now, if you want to rewire your brain to be more Sparky (become your true self and reach your potential) – listen to Sparky MORE!
PS If you can’t hear Sparky make sure you have given Shady a turn first. If we don’t listen to Shady and get the ‘distorted’ perceptions out of our brains, they keep going on and on in our subconscious without us realising it – in other words they get wired in! Becoming mindful or aware of Shady thoughts releases them and then we can replace them with Sparky thoughts and beliefs instead!