Have you ever watched a movie or simply read a book and felt so engrossed with it that when it was across, you had trouble re-orienting yourself in your regular surroundings?
We all know how difficult it can be to help you break a bad habit. Although one thing we also be aware of is that the brain comes with a amazing capacity to change perhaps even heal: “When shocked, rejuvenated, or just learning something, neurons grow new branches, increasing their reach and have an impact on, ” writes Ackerman.
Much like our habitual actions, your habitual thoughts occur at the level of the synapses and are just as subject to the “Use it or lose it” principle. When we make a stage of dwelling on great thoughts rather than ingrained negative ones, we are teaching some of our brains something new.
What would happen if, say, we just picked one area 30 days, and every time we had an automatic negative thought in that spot – “I’m ugly” or simply “I’m a failure” or “I am unlovable” – we stopped, picked out the positive truth, and just put in five minutes dwelling generally there? What would be possible? Imagine.
Plus they respond by growing and making new connections — which in turn makes it easier to teach our brains on the truth of the matter the next time we are faced with that same difficult thought or situation. It takes time, naturally, just like everything. But in due course, the brain establishes a best-known habit; the line concerning what we have imagined and what is real begins to help you dissolve.
And the brain is a major habit-former. The idea keeps and strengthens that connections that we use the most and extinguishes the connectors we don’t use. As Ackerman puts it. Behave within a certain way often plenty of – whether it’s using chopsticks, bickering, being afraid of heights, or avoiding
intimacy – and the brain will become really good at it.
The brain doesn’t always know the difference between real and make-believe, at least on an electro-mechanical level. In her fascinating book An Alchemy from Mind, author Diane Ackerman writes about an try things out she participated in. fMRI imaging showed that whether she looked at pictures of various objects or simply thought about these objects, the same parts of the girl’s brain were activated. To the brain, the line somewhere between reality and imagination is incredibly thin.
And, Ackerman explains, it is why we are thus profoundly moved by popular music and art and booklets, why we are scared silly when we watch horror cinema: the brain processes all that tips as if we were literally there, so even if on some cognitive level small children it’s not real, we’re even now at least partially transported to help you those moments, situations, panoramas and emotions.
While this may seem to be strange, it can also be a huge help. For example, this sleight from mind is why visualization can help athletes hone future actions and why it is thought that people who concentrate daily on regaining health subsequent to major surgeries on average do experience faster and more finished recoveries.
Great for knowing how to protect oneself, equilibrium a bike, or get a car. Not great in the case of defense mechanisms still in use long after the threat that established them has vanished.