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Neuroscience and the Hero's Journey

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Neuroscience and the Hero's Journey

Here's the fourth excerpt from my new book, Moving On in Mid-Life...The Reinvention Equation. The manuscript has been sent to the publisher! Now the exciting part begins with editing, formatting and a marketing plan. Hope to have the hard copy available in September.
Neuroscience has exploded with scientific information about how our brain operates. We have so much potential for designing our life. This has become clear.
 

Neuroscience and the Hero's Journey
 

Nothing happens in the body or in our feeling self or in our thinking self without a message from the brain.  The growing scientific field of neuroscience provides important information on our journey. The connection between our brain and our physiology and our psychology is of great importance in understanding our journey and the personal control we have over how we take it on. 

First, my disclaimer, I am not a scientist. However, I see the amazing information that is showing up in the literature and labs as to the capabilities of our brains and how we can use this information to better live our lives. The reinvention journey relies on an understanding of the ability of your brain and the wonderful possibilities of your life when the information is applied to your circumstances.

Your brain is completely plastic. It changes constantly as you use it and the ability to change your neural connections in the brain never decreases as you get older. 

Our brains weigh about three pounds or 2% of our body weight yet they are a powerhouse of activity with over one hundred billion neurons. The neurons are the basic working unit of the brain and connect with other neurons in unique ways.

Without going into all the science, just look at it like a huge series of electrical connections firing in various sequences. Imagine a forest of trees. Each tree has thousands of tiny endingsthat are equipped to fire off electrical signals to the other tress in the forest. Every electrical impulse gores exactly to the right tree to complete the task being requested. If you hurt your hand, for example, certain neurons will fire to accentuate the pain and others will fire to tell you what you need to do about alleviating the pain. The correct trees in the forest have connected through these electrical impulses to provide the painresponse and the thought process for alleviating the pain. 

The neurons also create patterns of activity over time. Certain repeated activity will have the neurons firing in the same sequence over and over.  Each child born will develop certain neural firing patterns creating habits of activity as well as feeling and thinking patterns which will become a hallmark of how this child will live their life. Unless they learn how to change the patterns.

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Do You Have Emotional Sensory Amnesia?

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Do You Have Emotional Sensory Amnesia?

Here's the third excerpt from my new book, The Reinvention Equation. The second draft is almost done!
Emotional Sensory Amnesia is a term I have coined so we can examine what we have forgotten about our emotions and feelings. How do they work? What do we do with them? What feelings have you put away a long time ago? The awareness of emotions and feelings are key to the reinvention equation.
 

The initial adaptation for baby is at the physical level. Baby must adapt to the conditions in which they find themselves in order to be fed, cared for and loved. Baby has no control over their environment and so must learn how to get what they need to survive. The physical adaptation is one which baby will know for the rest of their life. It will show up in adapting as best they can to whatever circumstances show up. They cry to be fed, they smile and giggle to get loving attention and they learn very quickly what it takes to make the adults happy.

Baby also has feelings. The child sees what is happening in the family and reacts accordingly. In some families certain feelings are not allowed to be shown. Baby is very observant of what is happening in the family. If baby feels sad and expresses it, mother or father will give baby a message that sad is ok or not ok in this family. Baby quickly learns what they can express and what they need to keep hidden. 

For example, in my family, anger was never shown or talked about. If I was angry I learned to keep it to myself. This is confusing to a child who initially believes that they way they feel is what is ok to express. The idea of keeping certain feelings hidden is something the child will not only learn but will use to evaluate all situations whether at home, play or work as to what is ok to express and what must be kept within one’s own heart. This leads to stress within the child’s body which, when young, they do not have the skill of releasing. 

We used to say at the company I worked for, “Leave your personal life at home.” We interpreted that to mean don’t talk about your personal pain, or family issues at the office. Feelings were not welcomed when there was work to do. So the adaptation continued wherein feelings and emotions were locked away. The stories of what happened at work and how one felt about them were told at outside parties or with friends with whom we felt safe. In some way we were trying to relieve the stress created by bottling up all the feelings that were felt. They were real but unwanted in the world in which we lived. Our adaptation to what was required at work took a lot of energy to maintain but we learned to do it at what we now know is a huge cost to our emotional and physical health.

Childhood adaptation occurs at the physical, feeling and the thinking levels. We are pretty smart as kids and we soon learn what feelings are ok and not ok to express in the family. As in my case I decided it was not ok to express anger so that emotion went underground. There was no way I would express anger as an adult. First, I didn't think it was acceptable. Second, I had no practice in expressing it in a healthy way.This is Emotional Sensory Amnesia (ESA).
We forget that to express a wide range of feelings is normal. However, our adaptive habitual training leads us to only express those feelings we have learned are on the approved list. The feedback loop between the brain and the feelings is stuck in a particular neural pattern. That means the default is always what we think we know in the moment, not what we have forgotten.
In order to make a change in the neural pattern and therefore a change in our life we need to recognize what is taking place and consciously choose to have a different experience.

 

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