The Fabric of Our Mind
Everyone of us has a narrative; a story which is telling of why we are the way we are. We share this with others, but mostly we repeat it to ourselves. Sometimes we attribute this narrative to the reasons we have accomplished so much. Other times we attribute it to give excuses, or reasons why we fail so often. The bully who made fun of you in 3rd grade may be the reason you chose to be so kind to those in need. Or perhaps that same bully caused you to feel like a victim to this very day?
Studies show that the neural connections in our brain change all the time, but when we keep repeating a pattern of thinking, the memory circuits get stronger. That is, if you keep repeating to yourself and others that you're a failure, you are literally creating solid roads for your neurons to travel and visit each other each day. No wonder they say old habits are hard to break!
The fabric of our mind, in short, is literally and figuratively all in our head. Letting go of our past troubles or habits entails a true re-learning of our narrative. Believing and telling a new story about why you are who you are, can literally re-route your circuits. According to leaders in cognitive behavioral therapy, changing the way you think can change the way you feel. Think of it this way: You walk into a party, and you know no one. You can choose to sit on the side, or even walk out, telling yourself that your social anxiety will never let you schmooze properly. Or you can see it as an opportunity to meet new friends, break your boundaries, hike up your adrenaline. It's the same party, we just perceive and therefore feel it differently.
A dear friend of mine said it beautifully, stating that he increasingly sees in his own life is that his inner world is the only true reality there is. That is, he makes up everything, adding his emotions, projections on people and the world, etc. Let's say we both meet a new stranger. I might say that the person reminds me of my sister, so I automatically choose to like them. You then say that their perfume puts you off and reminds you of your aunt that you hate. What you take in is your own creation, and so is your narrative!
Yet there's one last key to changing the way you think. That is, you must ask yourself if you truly want to change. If someone gave you the option right now to push a button and make everything ok, would you push it? Surprisingly, many people would say no. This may seem silly to you. But if you think of it in pathological terms, people often like to hold onto their baggage, or their narrative per se. Falling down is so much easier than climbing the hill. Feeling sorry for yourself is easier than getting better. But your inner voyage, as my dear friend told me, demands ruthless honesty and courage from all astronauts of our inner worlds.
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