Thirty years ago, I set out to answer a question that was considered at the time to be ridiculous: “can the mind change the brain?” Back in the eighties many scientists believed that a damaged brain could not change. Healthcare and therapy professionals like myself were taught to help their patients compensate for brain disabilities and mental ill health; total recovery was, for the most part, out of the question.
At the time, I was part of the initial research on neuroplasticity (brain change). Based on my own research and practice, where I worked with individuals suffering from learning disabilities, traumatic-brain injury (TBI) and metal ill-health, and my experience as an educator and trainer in schools in South Africa, I witnessed, time and time again, the power of the brain to change. I have seen how frequent, positive, and challenging learning experiences can actually increase intelligence in a relatively short amount of time!
As it turned out, the ridiculous was actually true! Today, there is an increasing body of evidence that the brain changes according to experience. The anatomy and physiology of the human brain is much more malleable and plastic than we once thought—the brain changes according to how we use it!
Yes, life can certainly be challenging, but our minds are actually more than prepared to stand up to these challenges and overcome them—all we have to do it think! Our ability to think is truly phenomenal. Our brains can change as we think (neuroplasticity) and grow new brain cells (neurogenesis). Using the incredible power in our minds, we can persist and grow in response to life’s challenges. We can take our thoughts captive and change the way we think, speak and act!
What are some ways you can develop your mental resilience and change your brain?
- When you find yourself feeling hopeless, stop and tell yourself that your brain can change. Tell yourself that your brain is plastic, and you can use your thinking to change your mind and take control of your life. Write down your thoughts if you find that this will be helpful. Practice doing this for 3 weeks (it takes 21 days to start changing neural pathways).
- Over the next 21 days, pay attention to what other people say to you. If it is negative, do not meditate on their words. Forgive them, and fight the desire to take any negative comments into your mind. Remember, whatever you think about the most grows, affecting your ability to think, speak and act.
- Spend a few moments every day for the next three weeks focusing on challenges you have overcome in the past. Remind yourself of your strength and ability to not only survive but also thrive.
Do not let your life get the better of you. Remember that the power inside you is greater than anything that comes your way, and if you persist you will be rewarded, mentally and physically.
For more information on renewing the mind, neuroplasticity and overcoming difficult challenges, see my new Switch On Your Brain curriculum pack! Each of the keys in Switch On Your Braincurriculum pack pairs science with the bible, asking penetrating personal questions in order to guide you in understanding the impact of your thought life on your brain, body, and lifestyle. It is perfect for church-wide campaigns, adult Sunday school, Bible studies, small group study, or individual use. The curriculum kit includes:
· one Switch on Your Brain paperback book
· one Switch on Your Brain workbook
· one Switch on Your Brain DVD
Are you ready to experience maximum happiness and health? Then switch on your brain!