“Thought changes structure … I saw people rewire their brains with their thoughts, to cure previously incurable obsessions and trauma.” ~ Norman Doidge, Canadian-born psychiatrist and author of The Brain That Changes Itself
Neuroplasticity: The Good and The Bad
Many experts would say that our brain is “remarkably malleable.” In other words, you can work it like it’s clay or dough. In the past two decades, experts have come across many discoveries in the field of brain imaging and neuroscience.
Today, we now that the human brain has the ability to re-engineer. Yes, you are an engineer.
Neuroplasticity describes the lasting changes our brain goes through in our lives. It can be a wonderful and beneficial for you.
- You can increase your intelligence
- You can learn new skills and change your life completely
- It allows you to recover from some types of brain damage
- You can improve your emotional intelligence.
- You are able to “unlearn” destructive behaviors, beliefs and old habit
It’s time to redesign your brain, but make sure you do it the right way, otherwise you will end up feeling much worse.
Beliefs have the power to change your brain
Donald Hebb is an early pioneer of neuroplasticity and neuropsychology. He once said, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.”
Dr. Michael Merzenich is considered the world’s most renowned neuroscientist. He confirmed the link between our thoughts (“neurons that fire”) and the structural changes in the human brain (“wire together.”)
Your experiences, behaviors, thinking, habits, thought patterns, and ways of reacting to world can’t be separated from the way your brain wires itself.
Negative habits can cause worse changes to the brain. Positive habits change your brain in a good way.
Neuroplasticity and illnesses
Alex Korb, Ph.D., and author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time, had an interesting take on the issue.
“In depression, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the brain. It’s simply that the particular tuning of neural circuits creates the tendency toward a pattern of depression.
It has to do with the way the brain deals with stress, planning, habits, decision making and a dozen other things — the dynamic interaction of all those circuits. And once a pattern starts to form, it causes dozens of tiny changes throughout the brain that create a downward spiral.”
Neuroplasticity can be the good and the bad.
The impact of complaining on brain changes
Complaining has the ability to change your brain’s structure. We all know someone who complains all the time. This person isn’t happy with anything they get in their life.
To make things even worse, these people keep spilling their venom. They keep talking about their problem. Yes, we all complain, but chronic complainers cross the red line every day.
A group of researchers from Clemson University showed that we all complain. But, some people do it more often than others.
There are three groups of complainers:
- Attention-seeking Complainers
The only way for them to get attention is through complaining. They keep talking about their problems. Other people ignore them really often. No one wants to waste energy on an attention seeker.
- Chronic complainers
They complain about everything. Day and night. They even complain in their thoughts. These people “live in a constant state” of complaint.
This is termed as “rumination” or “repetitively going over a thought or a problem without completion.” There’s a direct link between rumination and depressed/anxious brain.
- Low-E.Q. Complainers
E.Q. stands for emotional quotient. These people are short to E.Q.
“What I.Q. is to intelligence, E.Q. is to emotional understanding.”
These people don’t even think about your thoughts and feelings. You are just a brick wall to them. That’s why they complain whenever possible.
Can you blame your brain?
Yes. Negative people don’t like to feel that way. Complaining can affect the thought process. Altered thoughts lead to altered beliefs, giving you changes in behavior.
Your brain has “negativity brass.” It describes the brain’s tendency to focus more on negativity than positivity.
“Negative stimuli produce more neural activity than do equally intensive positive ones,” Dr. Rick Hanson, a neuroscientist and author of Buddha’s Brain, said. “They are also perceived more easily and quickly.”
When you repeatedly focus on the negative thoughts by complaining, you fire and re-fire the neurons responsible for the “negativity bias.”
You need to work really hard to feel better. Dwelling all the time won’t take you anywhere. You’d only focus on the bad things in life. Resist your negative thinking and rewire your brain.
Try meditation. Barbara Fredrickson and her colleagues at the University of North Carolina explain that daily meditation helps you display positive emotions.
They found that “people who meditated daily continued to display increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, and decreased illness symptoms.”
Focus on your breathing and make a daily meditation schedule that fits your needs. According to experts 15-20 minute sessions can do wonders to your brain!