Brain Metaphors

Rethinking the Brain

My personal intention for 2018 is to help you re-think how you think about your Brain.

What does that mean?

Most people think about their brain as a collection of tissue, an organ sitting inside their heads that generates thoughts and emotions and actions through the.interaction of its anatomical bits and chemical connections.

Many think of the brain as being like a computer -- "processing" its "input", generating "output", running "programs" that determine how we think and feel and react and act. They wonder whether some part of them is "hardwired" or whether it might be changeable.

And even though they "know" it's just a metaphor, they get frustrated when their brain doesn't perform as expected or desired. They feel like it needs "fixing", "upgrading", "re-wiring", or "re-programming".

But my personal mission is to ...

“Parts” of Yourself: Where are they all?

Some time ago, I was part of a fascinating discussion at Dawud Miracle's blog about whether we have “parts” of ourselves or whether we are a “whole” misled by our language and habits of thought into thinking of ourselves in parts. (This guy is not just another web designer, eh?)

I had to join such a conversation, but of course I approached the question from the perspective of the brain. (I couldn't help myself — you'll understand ).

To follow the whole conversation (or is that to follow all its parts??), you'll need to go catch up on Dawud's blog, but I thought I would share my thinking on this for my brain aficionados. (That's you.)

So —

Why do we seem to have “parts”?...

Does It Matter How Your Memory Works?

I recently was part of an on-line conversation about the family movie Inside Out. (Parents and kids alike are loving it -- check out the Facebook page in the link!)

There has been some criticism from brain-people that know a lot about how memory works that some memory metaphors in the move aren't...well...quite right.

Other people feel the power of the film for teaching about emotions -- the importance of every kind of emotion, how we manage them, a vocabulary for parents and children to talk about feelings, even for those of us who might be grown-up children without a good emotional vocabulary -- far outweighs any factual slips.

I want to suggest both sides are "right".

But I also want to share that I strongly believe that how we think about our brains -- our "model" of the brain -- can influence how we live our life. (Hence, my little tag line: Understanding the Hidden Principles of Your Brain as a Rosetta Stone to Life -- I really, really mean it.)

So, here are my thoughts on whether understanding how your memory works really makes any difference to the bigger picture...

Building a Resilient Brain - Where to Start?

Ah yes... resilience!

Most of the time people think they need to build resilience by avoiding stress. But  no -- this is absolutely the wrong thing to do (unless they find themselves already past a breaking point -- but that's a different story).

More recent research on the brain (and the same kind of “complex systems” that the brain is an example of) shows that we are better to push through the stress instead of pulling back protectively if we want to really build our resilience.

 And this makes sense if you think of the brain like the rest of your body...

 If you want to strengthen your muscles, what’s the best approach to take?...

Brains in Motion: Following our Brain's Dance

In a conversation with a group of coaches interested in the brain, a number of elegant metaphors emerged from thinking about the brain not as a collection of anatomical structures, but a system moving through time, creating, discovering, and dissolving patterns.

One of these was the dance -- the fluid, graceful movments of dancing.

And interestingly, "movement" applies to creating "movement" around areas of "stuckness" and to one of the core principles underlying how the brain operates -- constant, unending movement.

So what do we know about movement?