What happens when bad habits, hurtful experiences
or bad memories from your past
keep raising their ugly head in your PRESENT?
Our tendency is to RESIST those unpleasant feelings-
hoping to AVOID PAIN....
however, most people are unaware that RESISTANCE
(or the mental focus on what you DON'T want)
is actually creating a multitude of cognitive and
emotionally charged pathways in the brain.
Feeling pain, whether it be an emotional or physical,
creates a response system- or instinct in our brain
to AVOID or REMOVE it.
For example if your hand touches a hot oven,
we instinctively remove it to avoid the pain.....
but, just like physical pain,
if we don't understand the "WHY" of our pain,
we are highly likely to repeat it.
Even when we are physically ill -
PAIN IS NOT THE CAUSE of the problem,
it is the the SYMPTOM of another issue.
Take a simple headache for example.
We all want to quickly grab an Advil to get the pain to go away....
but, if we don't understand the CAUSE of the headache,
we are simply masking the problem.
Our highly REACTIVE emotional brain
tricks us sometimes, into thinking
that resisting what hurts or scares us,
is actually the best method.
However, avoidance is the brain's way
of putting off identifying the CAUSE of the pain
when we aren't yet willing or able,
to tackle the hurtful experiences in our lives.
Let's take the pain of a broken relationship.
Yes... it's true that this pain hurts so bad
you feel like you may explode from agony.
AND.. yes, we want to avoid feeling that pain
ever again (rightly so)....
but if the pain is only MASKED
rather than addressed,
statistics show the likelihood of it popping up
in other areas is extremely high....
whether that be your health,
an addiction created to help numb emotions,
or a repeat mistake- thinking the other person was the problem,
only to find yourself in the exact situation again.
Famous Psychologist Carl Jung said that
"What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size."
Unknowingly when we resist something,
we are moving our brain into a DEFENSIVE state of thinking
(giving all the power to the "thing")
in an effort to just avoid it-
rather than moving to an OFFENSIVE state
(taking our own power) to create a well thought-out a plan of attack.
Look at the image below of a man RESISTING
all the weight pushing against the door.
When we are resisting...
ALL of our Energy is spent fighting against the force,
leaving none for ourselves!
In thousands of lives every day...
this is exactly what is happening.
Well meaning people are trying to avoid pain by pushing it away.
But every thought and effort to KEEP IT AWAY
is creating more and more neuron pathways in your brain
(with each and every thought of avoidance).
Hebb's Law of Neuroscience says
"Neurons that fire together wire together" ....
so HOW do you stop resisting
those terrible memories, habits and life situations?
Here are a few steps that will get you started!
The first step to moving your brain into an OFFENSIVE state of healing is to:
1. CLEARLY identify the true problem- even if your problem is drug abuse, that's NOT the real problem, that the the effect of an underlying problem which later turns into an additional physical problem. Ask yourself, "what are you trying to numb, what are you masking, why do you feel you need this?" The answer to THIS.... is the real problem.
2. STOP taking your past issue into your current life. In this country we carry shame and guilt with us almost like a badge of honor. Most studies say that the reason people continue to feel guilt is to remind themselves NEVER to do it again... however, data shows that doesn't work, because the true PROBLEM was never addressed. Find the real issue and FACE it. (Think of your guilt and shame as a bag of rocks.... is carrying it around with you into the present doing anyone any good? All it's doing is making your life HEAVY and keeping you from moving forward with enough energy to help anyone else....
3. FORGIVE yourself or someone else. I have said many times that FORGIVENESS is a gift you give yourself. Mistakingly people think forgiveness means you're weak, or that you've let someone off the hook.... but data shows that people who carry a great deal of anger and unforgiveness have massively higher health related issues. It has been said that being unforgiving is like carrying someone else's poison. It leaves you TOTALLY responsible .
4. CHANGE your perspective. Don't focus on what you lost, or the pain of what could have been, or the anguish of how WRONGED you were. Remember what you focus on grows neuron pathways in your brain. Is that really what you want growing in your head? Begin looking at it through a perspective of WHAT you learned that you could have learned no other way. Maybe it is just how to spot a cheater, or maybe it is the results and pain of drugs, or maybe it is just realizing that you need to give your 25 year old self a break because you cannot judge what you would do NOW with the experience of what you knew then. As Maya Angelou said "WHEN you know better do better!"
Staci is a one-of-a-kind mix of JOY and Neuroscience who is teaching people all over the world to BUILD a BETTER BRAIN by using Gratitude to create a BRIGHTER future. She has a Master's Degree in Educational NEUROSCIENCE and 25 years of teaching experience where she developed a reputation for being able to uncover potential in others like no one else could. Let her teach you how to live a HAPPIER Life by using the neuroscience of GRATITUDE to rewire your brain and build a better future!