Patterns- let’s decode. Shall we?

Today I am experiencing one of those beautiful synchronicities that life offers you. This morning I was reading a book titled ‘Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton Erickson’ and later in the day while surfing for something to watch I stumbled upon this video titled ‘ The brain that changes itself’ on Amazon. Let me share and elaborate how my little head connects the two and there’s also a bonus at the end. Have fun!

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Mastadon of IPFW, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

I am only 10th page of the book I mentioned and I loved how the author talks about the different messages we decode everyday from our external environment unconsciously. How do we decode these messages? Via our senses i.e. sight, smell, hearing, touch. For most people only one of these senses is the dominant source of information. Our decoding of this information depends on our past conditioning to a large extent. For example: When you say or read the word ‘food’ , each one of us experiences this word differently based on our associations to the word food in the past. It could be an image, it could be a distinct smell, it could be texture or the clinging of vessels related to the word. While we are forming those experiences/associations in the beginning we don’t filter it out, we simply receive and save it in our repository. This then helps us to not have to go through this decoding process again when we hear/read the word food. This association becomes our default as we grow up and we never really challenge it. We assume that what ‘food’ means for us is what it means for everyone else in general. This assumption of sameness makes our lives easier for sure but this assumption can also limit our abilities to learn more and new meanings of the word ‘food’. As I write this, I can think of how so many individuals argue over the definition of what is and what is not ‘food’ which is a never ending argument for many. So remember that we as humans like certainty and we create these patterns which need to be used by default without being questioned so that we can then utilize our brain power on other important issues like performing on job, rearing children etc. This can also be called our need to maintain homeostasis. Some of these patterns are helpful but some of these limit us.  But can these patterns not be changed or should they be changed at all in the first place?

The answer to whether or not they should be changed depends on what life circumstances you are facing and if you are happy/content with where you are then there isn’t exactly an incentive/need for you to change anything. What’s fascinating though is that our brain and bodies are constantly taking in and processing information and in a constant state of change. Even the food we eat is nothing but information/data in a different form which is then processed by our bodies and provided to us in the form of energy.

The thought of the need to change our patterns is the connection to the video I watched. In the video they talk about the concept of neuroplasticity which is the idea that the brain is capable at any age to make new connections and therefore rehabilitate itself/heal itself. My main takeaways from the video:

  • Unless the existing pathways are blocked or rendered useless, we don’t look for new ones. Some researchers have worked with individuals who lost their ability to use parts of their bodies due to traumatic incidents/strokes/paralysis. When these individuals were brought into treatment, the doctors restrained the dominant/usable hand and began exercising the other hand making slow and gradual progress everyday. What’s profound is that the new pathways weren’t built until the old ones were restrained/blocked. More often than not in life, we create suffering for ourselves when the situations around us seem to be blocking/restraining us. For example, you are a waitress and the restaurants in our area have stopped hiring. We create pain when we say..’ What will I do now? ‘and we keep looking for the same type of jobs. What if we looked at that block as a push to find a new pathway?
  • In another study, a person who had been blind for 38 years was given a device which sent feedback to his brain using the tongue instead of sight and he could navigate a physical path with turns simply based on that feedback he was receiving via his tongue. The man reported that the feedback he was receiving formed a mental image in his brain which is the same as seeing it with the eye. The brain doesn’t distinguish between ‘how’ the input is received. This is exactly how fears are real to people. Using this imagery available to us we can imagine new outcomes which is then enough for our brain to establish those new connections. Techniques like Neuro Linguistic Programming, Cognitive behavioral therapy help us rewire our brains.
  • Brain is a neutral receptor and storage house..so what are you feeding it and storing here on a daily basis? Meditation and mindfulness are two practices that help us become more aware of our unconscious patterns and bring those to the foreground for us to then work on them. In the same breath I would also like to mention that more than 90% of our body’s serotonin is produced in the gut region. More than one third of the microbes in our gut are not human microbes but microbes from the food we eat. So, the source of your food, the way it reached you, the soil it grew in, the way you cook it and the manner in which you eat your meals all determine who you think you areJ. If you are interested to read more on the mind and gut, please read Eat Wheat , The Mind-Gut connection and The Second Brain for the more scientifically inclined.
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Hit the DELETE button

You may wonder where? I am referring to our minds and the thoughts we create:)

Similar to the manner in which we delete posts, sentences and words on facebook/twitter or word documents, we can also choose to delete the thoughts we create and do not like! This perhaps never occurs to us but it is a possibility available to us. As we assume ownership and the right to manipulate the content that we want to post, we can do the same with the thoughts in our mind.

Lets take a situation: You are driving and look at a fellow driver stranded with a flat tire. You find yourself worrying if something of this sort would happen to you. We all know when we worry and right at this point, you can choose to delete this worrisome thought and replace it with a new desirable thought. It can either be connected to the event/situation you just witnessed or a random pleasant thought that you would like to have in your headspace. Mentally visualize the thought deleted as you would on a computer screen and see it replaced with the new thought. The new thought could be a visual of you always riding smooth or you enjoying your favorite vacation.

The intention here is to not avoid unpleasant thoughts all the time but simply become aware and also know that you can change the thought because even the earlier ‘worry’ thought was created in your own mind. You are the owner and you can change it:)

7 simple ways to enhance your Self Esteem

1)      Stop the harsh inner critic and make way for mistakes

  •  You do not need to be perfect for anybody. We let a lot of people influence our lives and believe it or not they become our inner voice. Sadly enough, not all of these are loving voices.

2)      Learn to say NO

  • Understand your emotional, physical and mental boundaries. Respect yourself enough to say NO to requests or assert your disagreement. People pleasing is one of the fastest ways to get into a vicious cycle of hurt, blame and burn out.

3)      ME time

Self love

Boston White Flower

  • Give yourself some time in a day/week where you engage in an activity that helps you recharge/rejuvenate. It could simply be an hour of listening to your favorite music, taking a walk, etc.

4)      Stay away from Toxic environments

  • You know it when a certain friend, relative does not mean well for you. Try and limit your time with such people and environments where you do not feel loved/respected.

5)      Reframing your criticisms

  • Find a way to reframe the critical remarks you subject yourself to into statements that are loving, affirmative and non-judgmental. For example: Criticism: I just cannot do anything right.  Counter this statement with a fact saying: This is not true since I was recently complimented at work for my presentation. Reframe: I am generally good at work and just need to improve on my report making skills.

6)      What’s in your goodie bag?

  • As you spend time collecting all the negative remarks, make an effort to identify atleast 3 good things to counter one negative remark. Any and all the compliments you have every received need to be respected. Learn to pat yourself when you have kept your calm during a stressful situation or kept your commitment towards ME time.

7) Enhance your inner dialogue using affirmations.

One of the easiest ways is to begin with using the stem ‘I am’ followed by any thing you wish to grow in yourself.Remember to repeat this as often as you can. No harm repeating the good stuff, right? We have enough of negatives coming our way and most of us aren’t kind to ourselves.

Ex: I am loved.

I am beautiful.

I am successful in achieving my goals.

I love my job.

The road to Loving and Respecting yourself begins with making room for understanding and accepting yourself with a kindness that you would extend to a friend or your child.

Happy Self Loving:)

Mind-Body connection: According to Energy Medicine, the third chakra  located in the solar plexus region governs self esteem issues, our comfort/discomfort with our personal power, choosing to blame or assume responsibility and move forward. It is yellow in color. The physical organs connected to the health of this chakra are liver, gall bladder, pancreas, diaphragm, spleen, stomach and kidneys.