Retrain Your Brain

Our brains are essentially lazy.  This may come as a surprise.  Did you know that our brain processes millions of pieces of information every day?  And yet we can only consciously deal with a limited amount of information.Brain Training 2

So our brain takes shortcuts – our neural pathways recognize certain things from memory to make life easier for us.  For example, when you look at a telephone on the desk you don’t have to think about what it is or what it does.  Your brain has stored this information so that it can quickly process what it is.

Unfortunately the same goes for our learned responses to situations.

Ever got knee shakingly nervous before a presentation? The next time you do one you will probably have the same response.

Did you ever get called into the principal’s office, and get nervous?  When your boss asks to see you, you may get nervous and assume you have done something wrong.

Do you get cross with yourself and tell yourself you’re hopeless and stupid? Maybe someone in your past said this to you and it is stored in your memory.

Do you shout over the top of someone who disagrees with you?  Your brain recognises the disagreement as a threat and responds with the ‘fight’ response.

The point is that our brains have so many stored, easy ways to respond, in the neural pathways that we have to work hard to re-wire them and learn new ways of responding.  This takes time and is like learning a new language.

So when you find yourself responding in your usual way to everyday situations, stop and ask yourself if this is helpful and if there is a different way to respond.  The anxiety of public speaking can be replaced by telling yourself it is excitement rather than nerves (same response by the way) and taking deep breaths.

Smile when the boss calls you into her office – chances are you have done nothing wrong.

Remind yourself when you make a mistake that no one is perfect and ask what you can learn from it.

Take a deep breath when someone disagrees with you, actually LISTEN to what they are saying and then respond. The short time taken to do that will reduce the risk of your getting angry.

These are just a few examples – think about your learned responses to situations and decide to teach your brain not to take shortcuts with your response.