I am delighted to welcome LOA Brain Whisperer, Janette Dalgliesh, to the AffirmingSpirit blog with today’s post:
The underlying neuroscience premise
Although we are still exploring the brain, and there is much to be learned, the research of the past twenty years has been turning most of our old paradigms on their unsuspecting heads. And that means most of us over the age of 20 have been operating from a set of flawed premises.
I believe we have far more power when we understand how things work. And I believe we are not our brains – we are the USERS of our brains.
Since the human brain is the single most sophisticated invention on the planet – by a very long way – it makes sense to get our hands on its user manual, don’t you think?
So let’s pretend this post is the preamble you’d get at the beginning – the User Quick Start Guide, if you like. In subsequent, I’ll share some specifics about how story and language work, because that’s where we’ll find out why the kind of personalized approach Nancy here at AffirmingSpirit recommends is so powerful.
But first, I want to set out what we know about the brain and peek behind the curtain of your ability to create miracles and change your reality.
Every aspect of our conscious experience of reality is delivered to us by the brain, from the pain of a paper cut to the emotional turmoil of a stressful day to the satisfaction of solving a complex puzzle. We have a vast and complex nervous system, continuously in dialogue within itself, and with the brain. But we don’t become aware of its messages until the brain decides to deliver them to us.
In order to manage and filter this vast array of data into something we can handle, the brain uses context, memory and selective focus to give us its “best guess” at what’s actually going on. Reality, we might say, is an opinion framed on what our brain already “knows” to be true.
In fact, what we call reality is nothing more than our own subjective representation, our own personal story put together by our brain. In effect, there is no such thing as an “out there” public version of reality that we all share. This is one reason why siblings can have radically different memories of shared childhood events.
The brain relies on memory to predict what’s possible in the future. But memory is highly fluid – the brain does not simply gather and stockpile information as a computer’s hard drive does. Every time we recall a memory, our brain writes it down again, and during this re-storage, it is also reprocessed and – depending on how we’ve retold the story (inside our heads or to another) – it gets distorted. But it feels utterly “real” because it’s now forming part of that opinion delivered by our brain. This is another reason for those sibling disagreements about who did what and to whom!
But we are not the victims of this default opinion of our brains. Because the brain can change – literally and physically – as a direct result of our thoughts and behaviour. In fact, it’s now known that the brain is DESIGNED for change, more than any other organ in the body.
And the more self-aware we become, the more choice we have about how our brain responds and, consequently, the reality it delivers. Therefore, from a place of self-awareness, we can begin to choose our thoughts. And, as the mystics have said, thoughts become things.
And, of course, physics has established via theory and experiment that “reality” changes at the quantum, sub-atomic level when human consciousness is watching. In other words, reality is a two-way relationship – both internally and externally.
Are you beginning to feel the wiggle room, the sense that reality is highly fluid, and you are the owner of a superpower? The power to change it? I hope so!
If you’re intrigued about Janette’s ideas about the brain science, you can click this link to get her new book Mastering Your Everyday Superpower as a free PDF during April 2014.
The stories we tell
Now let’s dive in a little more to the power of story and narrative, and why they work to change the brain. We are sense-making creatures. We want things to ‘hang together’ in a plausible, coherent way.
We require narrative not because it provides accuracy, but to provide coherence so we can assign meaning.
And we tend to confabulate – to fill in the gaps of memory with plausible inventions that preserve narrative continuity. This is most pronounced in patients with significant memory loss, or in laboratory tests with participants who have had the connection cut between the left and right hemispheres of their brain (a procedure that, surprisingly enough, rarely results in death or significant impairment of function).
Michael Gazzaniga, a cognitive neuroscientist, has performed countless experiments with split-brain participants. They have revealed a function of the left hemisphere he calls ‘the Interpreter,’ which jumps in to make sense of memories, when it has no direct access to those memories or the context in which they were made. Gazzaniga suspects that narrative coherence helps us to navigate the world – to know where we’re coming from and where we’re headed.
It tells us where to place our trust and why. That sense of security – that coherent sense of self – is essential to our survival.
So we cannot help but try and fill in the gaps in our knowledge to create a coherent story about the things we see going on around us. The problem comes when we unwittingly create a story about the bits we can’t know (what our boss really thinks of us; why our date didn’t show up; what happened to a lost airplane) – and that becomes a memory on which we rely for our sense of what’s real.
This means every time you retell a story in your head, or to your coach or your BFF or your lawyer, you’re reprocessing it AND you’re potentially bringing in “made up” facts about what’s going on. If it’s a painful story, you’re potentially making it worse and worse. But if it’s a story about how fabulous everything is, you can make it better and better.
And since your brain is relying on this story to predict your future, it’s unlikely to show you other realities.
And because you’re INSIDE that reality, being delivered by your brain, it FEELS like a true story.
You’ll often hear Abraham mocking our tendency to say things like “but it’s TRUUUUUUUUUE!” about the “what is” that doesn’t feel good.
If you’ve battled with a story that feels solid, true and unshakable, just know that your brain has you fooled for the time being. It may have rewritten it in a slightly distorted way every time you’ve retold it; and it will have filled in gaps in your knowledge, such as other people’s motivations or actions.
This is all really good news, because it means you can begin to let go of any aspect of reality you don’t currently like! AND it means you can step into self-awareness and power, by choosing a better-feeling story to tell.
I’m guessing you can already begin to see what affirmations are doing inside your brain, and why a good affirmation, correctly applied, has the power to change reality. In my next post, I’ll talk a little more about what gives an affirmation that quality.
If you enjoy learning how brain science ties in with affirmations and the Law of Attraction, you’ll want to sign up for Janette’s free webinar: If you’d like to hear Janette present in more detail exactly how story works in the brain (how it can trick us, and how we can use story to change everything) you’ll want to sign up for her FREE WEBINAR (23rd April /USA): Switch the Story, Change the Reality
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Janette Dalgliesh is the LOA Brain Whisperer, also knows as the Sweet Relief Coach. She’s a Law of Attraction coach and author, but also a self-confessed science geek who is especially lit up about the brain science because she believes it’s the biological mechanism by which we can consciously create the reality we want. Her books in the “Your Everyday Superpower” series ask the question “can the new brain science open the door to creating a new reality?” – and they answer a resounding YES.