Click here for the audio version of the lesson
NB – Some of this lesson is taught by video below. However the audio component of this video has been included in this lesson’s audio.
If you’re anything like I was, you’ve been highly critical of yourself for feeling the way you do and for not being able to change the way you are. There is a painful cycle that can occur where you may repeatedly attempt to change, possibly experiencing small successes for a short time, then continue to go back to your old habits again. This cycle often causes us to feel even worse about ourselves.
Understanding this firsthand, I wanted to explain some very basics of the brain that helped me to really understand that there is a very physical reason to why we think the way we do and furthermore, show you that there is a way to change how we think.
When we are born, we have very few neural connections in the brain. These neural connections are what enable us to do anything; like move, breathe, eat, think, walk, talk etc.
As a baby, you only have enough connections formed in the brain to enable you to eat, sleep, breathe and move in the limited way that you do as a baby.
Everything else is learnt over time through repetitive exposure to your environment.
Think about how you learnt to walk. You got up, fell down, got up, fell down, until eventually you taught yourself how to walk without falling over. It became habit.
This also occurs with learning how to eat with a spoon, talk, climb, run and any other skill or ability you now have.
What about how you respond to events? What about the emotions you feel, the opinions that you have, the choices that you make, the preferences you have and the expectations you have about yourself and life? Where do you think they come from?
That’s right. They too have mostly been formed from your environment as a child. Through repetitive exposure to the world around you as a child, you learnt what to think about your world and how to interpret these events. You literally grew neural connections in the brain that are what we call beliefs.
The environment you grew up in consists of your parents or primary care givers, siblings, other family, media, friends, exposure to religion, cultural trends and education.
As you grow, primarily from zero to seven, you start to observe all these influences that you are continually exposed to and you form beliefs about how life ‘should’ go.
When you understand that there is a physical process that occurs when you think and that the beliefs you hold are like hard wiring in the brain, it starts to make a lot of sense why you think the way you do.
Consider your own children and how innocent and naive they are, experiencing and interpreting the events in their life. They have no idea about how life should be and they are learning these things right now from their environment. They are growing new neural connections in their brain as we speak, which is going to determine how they view the world as they grow older.
You were once a child too, and from your experiences and observations you formed your belief systems from what you were taught and from mimicking what you observed from your surroundings. This is now influencing how you view the events in your life.
This is why one parent may experience challenges with no stress, yet another parent experiences those same challenges with stress. They both have different beliefs about what that event means to them, and therefore process that event differently.
This is the physical process of how we came to think the way we do and the reason why I teach you this, is so that you can understand that your brain is doing exactly what it is meant to be doing. That is, operating in accordance with the beliefs you hold about life. They have been physically hard wired in the brain.
I know that when I learnt about this scientific understanding of the brain, I felt such relief because I realised that how I perceived my life at the time I was depressed, couldn’t have been any other way. My brain could only operate with the information that it had learnt from.
I thought that way because I had incorrect beliefs about my self-worth and the way life ‘should’ go. I had incorrect beliefs that expected that I could always get life to go the way that I wanted it to. Those beliefs were physical parts of my brain, just like my arms, legs, fingers and toes.
It was such a relief to know that I wasn’t broken, I was completely normal. I just had connections in the brain, formed from childhood that I hadn’t become aware of. This was what was causing me to feel the way I did.
I think at this point, in order to reinforce what I’m saying it would be helpful for you to see a visual explanation of the connection between how you think and how you feel because this information is so powerful for helping you understand why you feel the way you do and for giving you hope that you can stop your depression once and for all
Now that we know how the brain works, we can now repeat the same process of growing connections in the brain (new beliefs) by instead feeding it new, more correct information about life and self-worth and over time, pruning the old way of thinking.
Scientists have discovered that we all have the incredible ability to rewire our brains to think in a completely different way. As you feed your brain new information (which is the aim of this program and the Mind TRACK to Happiness process) and you do this repetitively and consistently, what happens is, you start to grow and strengthen new connections until they become the new habit of thinking.
What happened to the old way of thinking? It literally dies off (pruning) and disappears. You weaken these neural pathways by not using that train of thought anymore and replacing it with new thinking.
Here is another video that reinforces this point beautifully:
If you can’t see this video, please click here where you will be taken to Youtube
By giving you the tools to create a new way of thinking and applying this new way of thinking to many different areas of your life, it is my aim to help you strengthen new connections in the brain until they become effortless too. That is, your new thinking will become the superhighway of thinking and the old way becomes the goat track.
It’s so empowering to understand the very physical function of the brain when trying to understand your postnatal depression. You no longer feel powerless to this illness, believing that there is nothing you can do.
Now there is something you can do and we are going to do it as you continue through this program.
In tomorrow’s lesson, I’m going to show you how all of your stressful thoughts can be categorised into just four specific views of life that cause you to feel stressed.