I’m sure most of you know this already, but apparently our brains are plastic. From what I understand, this means that you actually can teach an old dog new tricks. I’m not a neuroscientist, so you’ll bare with me if I explain this in a simplified, and not too terribly precise way.
All through our lives the things we experience, encounter, and respond to create neural pathways in our brains. Many of these pathways are formed in childhood based on the world around us and how we were taught to experience, encounter, and respond to the people, places, and things in our environment. These experiences become neural pathways, which in turn becomes how we go about life or our M.O. They are what we know and what is familiar and we continue to use these same pathways again and again without thinking our logic may be flawed. In other words, we learn what we were taught and we go through and respond to life based on the worldview we acquired through the things we learned– whether right or wrong, without giving much thought to the possibility that there may be another approach. There are, in fact, often several other approaches, and we commonly refer to these approaches as alternate perspectives. AKA the subjectivity of reality. Don’t worry, I won’t go and get all philosophical on you now.
In a nut shell, many of us have neural pathways that don’t serve us much good. They are the same old ways we go through the world that often leave us feeling sad, lonely, anxious, worried, scared, hurt, or angry. Luckily, we can create new pathways – or blaze new trails if you will – through different interventions like Clinical Counselling, CBT therapy, Mindfullness, and Meditation, to name a few.
Let’s look at it like this: imagine you are at the edge of a forest, and to your left you see a clearly marked path that is well worn down, easy to identify, and seems relatively inviting and convenient… although once you start going down that path you know that although familiar, it’s not really all that safe, it doesn’t make you feel too good, and you usually have a hard time finding your way out once you go down it. Now look to your right… there is another path – it’s not all that clear that it actually is a path, but some of the grass and leaves look slightly pressed down and a few of the branches have been pushed aside. Now, going down this path might not be so easy, and it will definitely take more of an effort… at least at first. But eventually, if you keep using this new, lovelier, more enjoyable path whereby you always come out the other side feeling pretty good, the grass and leaves will soon become well worn down, the tree branches will no longer be obstructing the way, and going down this path will not only leave you feeling good, if not great, it will soon become easy peasy!! At the same time that this is happening, that old yucky path will start getting all grown over and you won’t even be tempted to go that way anymore. And probably pretty soon, you may not even remember there was ever a path there in the first place.