Brain Changing

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 ...

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...

Between stimulus and response?: Where do We Find Our Capacity for Choice?

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” --

Viktor E. Frankl – Psychiatrist and Holocaust Survivor


I respect Frankl and his work immensely.

Yet, having said that, there is a wealth of research showing that there isn't much space between stimulus and response -- that our brain is starting to respond even before we are aware we intend to do something.

I wonder if the opportunity for making new choices is not wholly in that little space we aren't even aware of, but in the feedback we get from ourselves (physical energy and sensations, emotional, intellectual) after we have taken an action, made a decision, etc..

Mindfulness and nonlinear neurofeedback are effectively precisely because they don't "drive" change, they allow observation of what already is -- what just happened -- and change emerges naturally from the feedback.

Perhaps we could make slight revision to Frankl's quote -- that the opportunity for change is between response and stimulus"...?