Have you ever wondered why is it so easy for you to have a specific thought, smell a particular scent, or hear a specific sound and immediately become sad, angry, or fearful? Have you ever noticed a predictable pattern to your thoughts, how they lead to feeling specific emotions? Have you ever become aware of a negative thought cycle, where you feel you just cannot get off the negative thought train, one leads to another, and another, and another?
As I was gathering notes for this article, I also wanted to find a video clip that would offer a visual demonstration. I wanted to show specifically how our thoughts affect our emotions, our body, and our behaviors, not just write about an abstract concept. Then I remembered a movie I watched years ago. It definitely was an out-of-the-box movie in its day and discussed many theories including our thoughts, emotions, and how our body is impacted. I have included the clip that is specific to this article below, but also invite you to watch the original or the revised movie in its entirety.
Our thoughts matter!
What we repeatedly tell ourselves matters!
Sometimes our self-talk is harmless, but other times it is hurtful. In fact, our thoughts, whether positive and helpful, or negative and hurtful, create a synaptic super highway in our brain and body.
Consider this: our brains are made up of billions of cells called neurons that have branches that reach out and connect with other neurons, ultimately creating a neural net. These neural nets are created out of our ideas, thoughts and associative memories. When theseneural nets are activated, chemical messengers in our body are released creating a biochemical response in the body causing us to feel specific emotions.
These neural nets may create positive or negative connections. This article focuses on the unhelpful, negative connections that are made.
In the YouTube clip Dr Joseph Dispenza, D.C. discusses how the feeling of love activates the neural network. The video shows a married woman walking in on her spouse who is in bed with another woman. Because of this event, in addition to love, her associative memories also contain pain, betrayal, sorrow, anger, and rage, are linked to hurt, which is linked to a specific person, which then loops and is linked back to love.
“Neurons that fire together wire together.” They also form a feedback loop that causes a cascade effect in the body. When a specific neural network is frequently activated it is strengthened, so too is the release of chemical messengers and biochemical responses in the body. Often this feedback loop is activated by our thoughts, but it can also be triggered by specific scents, sounds, and touch.
Think of the neural network as a muscle. The more often you work out the muscles the stronger it becomes. It is similar with the neural network. When you think the same thoughts over and over it strengthens the entire neural network. For example if you frequently say to yourself, “I am such an idiot,” “Nobody loves me,” “I’m not good enough,” that particular neural map is strengthened, the connections become much stronger. When a negative neural network has been activated its like driving on a round-a-bout that has no exits, you just go around and around.
When an emotionally charged negative or traumatic memory from your past is triggered, the associative memory is activated, the neural networks connect, negative thought patterns become present, chemical messengers are released, and the resulting feelings can be of hopelessness, sorrow, anger, rage, or whatever is contained in your particular neural network or neural map. This complex neural and biochemical response in our brain and body can turn into a harmful cycle.
However, hope is not lost because it can be changed, the neural connections can be disrupted, and over time, severed.
Life coaching strategies and support can help. I have worked with hundreds of people to help them discover when, where, and how their particular neural maps are activated. I helped them identify their thought patterns, offered tools that disrupted them , and taught methods that altered them.
As Henry Thoreau states it takes practice, patience, and persistence to change the negative neural connections, disconnect the associated memories, and alter negative thought patterns and beliefs.
Remember when you alter your beliefs you alter your thoughts.
When you alter your thoughts you alter your emotions.
When you alter your emotions you alter your behaviors.
When you alter your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors you alter your life.
Are you ready to dismantle your negative neural superhighway?
© Original Article 7/2015. Revision 8/2016. Liisa Gavlick, M.A. All Rights Reserved