Have you ever had to change your mind?
When I was seventeen, for one glorious summer I worked on a fruit farm. Several friends were camping together and one day someone stole my wallet from my tent. I was absolutely certain that I knew who had taken it – the guy was acting strangely and I could see guilt written all over his face. I was so sure of myself that I reported him to the police – who could do nothing without evidence. Two months later, my wallet was returned to me after a local youth had been caught stealing from someone else. I had been utterly and completely wrong in my accusations. It was a sobering lesson in being wrong – but circumstances forced me to change my opinions.
Getting well often requires changing your mind.
Changing our attitude and our behaviour can sometimes be incredibly difficult – but it is often an essential ingredient to getting better. The addict eventually changes his mind about his habit. The depressed person realises that the worst is over and that better times lie ahead. The anxious person learns that the thing that is bothering them is smaller than they imagined.
How do we do it?
We now know from recent scientific studies of the human brain that “neurons that fire together, wire together” and that the brain now appears to be a lot more changeable and mouldable than was believed even fifty years ago. The brain has a great deal of “plasticity” and its structure is constantly being refined, moulded and changed by the way that we use it.
But how do people ever manage to shift their long-held beliefs or thought patterns? There are several methods that can work…
The law of dominant emotion
Whenever we feel strongly about something, there is an opportunity to harness the emotional content and use it. I knew a man who wanted to give up smoking. The problem was that he just didn’t care enough about the damage to his own health, the cost, the smell or simply being out of breath to make the change. What he did care about was his children. He cared about teaching them that adults could make mistakes then admit them and do something about it. Giving up nicotine became easy once he decided to utilise his situation to show something that he considered important to his children. He cared more about his children than he cared about his nicotine habit.
The bigger picture
Another way to change your thoughts and beliefs is to step back and see the wider context – the bigger picture. Techniques such as meditation, yoga and mindfulness can help people detach from the emotional roller-coaster of daily life and get in touch with the larger perspective. But this approach doesn’t suit everyone.
The Rewind Technique
Sometimes professional help is required to change thought patterns which are associated with traumatic experiences. But even then, change can be surprisingly quick and painless. Here at in8, we regularly use a technique known as “The Rewind Technique” (also known as the “Visual Kinaesthetic Disassociation” technique and the “Fast Phobia Cure”) to help change unconscious response patterns that disrupt peoples lives.
Practice makes perfect
Next time you find yourself saying something like: “Well, that’s just the way I am!” rather than feeling proud of your certainty, notice that you are actually limiting your flexibility by telling yourself that you cannot change. After all, aren’t those people who are completely sure they are right – the fundamentalists, the dogmatists, those not prepared to listen – aren’t they the scariest people in our world? Aren’t they the people we should be running away from?
Change can start with the smallest steps – a journey of one thousand miles begins with a single step. So if you feel stuck about anything at all, try making a small change in your life just for the hell of it. Deliberately disrupt some of your own ingrained patterns. Try brushing your teeth with the other hand, sleep on the other side of the bed. Set your alarm clock 30 minutes earlier and take a 30 minute walk in the morning.
And if you want professional help to change your mind about something, and you are local to Trowbridge, then why not contact us to find out just how easy it can be when you have the help of experts who are trained in the skill of mind changing.