If you could rewire your brain and make yourself more productive, confident and happy – would you do it? That was the topic of discussion when the #YPNetwork gathered in the Green Room on Colchester’s North Hill to hear from Damian Culhane – NLP Practitioner and professional coach in September.
So what is neuroplasticity? Simply put it refers to the changes in neural pathways and synapses as a result of changes in ones behaviour, environment, thoughts and emotions. This also includes changes that stem from personal injury. Indeed it is now a widely accepted fact that when brain injuries are acquired a cascade of regenerative events are triggered which help remap the neural pathways of the brain, often restoring a large amount of lost functionality.
The science aside, take a moment to reflect on the process of learning to drive. At the beginning every action involved requires a conscious effort: mirror, signal, position, speed, look, manoeuvre – the list goes on. However, over time these actions become automated, taking place on a subconscious level which allows you to talk to your passengers and listen to the radio whilst driving along. Essentially, this is what neuroplasticity is all about – rewiring the neural pathways of your brain to create shorter, more effective routes between neurons.
It’s not just life skills (such as driving) which can become second nature, but we can also change the way that we think. Damian led us through the thinking cycle (part of the toolkit of cognitive behavioural therapy); where by picturing the outcome that we desire we can a) think positively about how to reach that outcome and b) decide what actions we need to take to reach it.
As another real world example, imagine that you have to give a presentation to your management team. You want to make a good impression, get sign off for your project. If you go into that meeting thinking that things will go poorly, this will bleed into your behaviours and likely lead to poor performance. Alternatively, thinking things will go well will lead to improved confidence and improved performance.
This is the power of positive thinking, and as the evening drew to a close we were left with this advice: if you have a negative thought, flip it, make it positive, and enjoy all the benefits that such thinking brings.
Blog By: Joshua Resoun, Young Professionals Network Member 2015