The explosion of research in neuroscience shows us the importance and the possibility of evolving the human brain at this time in history. We are on an evolutionary step, and each one of us can participate in creating a whole new human being. Evolving your brain is like an upgrade that can produce a better functioning human being. We can evolve the brain from its old, habitual programming which is based on “survival” and danger, to one with new possibilities of connection, toward what is really good in life.
The human brain is highly programmed to pay lots of attention to what is wrong. The brain notices something wrong in a half second or less, and flags it as important. This was useful when we lived in a forest, or a jungle, or a desert where life was harsh and we were dependent on our cunning to survive. A human who was really good at paying careful attention to anything that was wrong had a better chance of surviving all of the dangers of that life.
We do not live in such constant danger anymore, but our brains don’t seem to know that. Thus we worry and fret, expect the worse, take lots of anti anxiety meds, are hyper vigilant, and constantly focused on what is wrong with life and with each other. We criticize, complain, and hurt the people closest to us as we constantly notice what they did wrong. Or we are constantly self critical, always focused on what we did wrong, or are about to do wrong. And we feel bad and inadequate, and never good enough. Are you tired of that yet?
But to pay attention to something good is really hard for most of us. That is because it takes the brain a full 11 seconds or more, according to neuro-psychologist and author Rick Hanson, to notice and register something good. And then it says, “Well, that is not important, just let that go,” and we don’t pay much attention to, or can’t really notice anything good about ourselves, or can’t take in anything good anyone says to us. Sound familiar? It is like the brain is a rusty gate that wants to constantly swing in the same direction, focused on what is wrong.
We can evolve this old survival brain, and we can be pioneers in this important evolutionary step. We can use the conscious mind to notice and pay attention to something good. But we have to remember it will take a conscious effort. If you notice something good, or you think a good thought about yourself or someone else, or about a situation, go slowly. Take at least 11 seconds or more to really notice it. Hanson calls it “letting in the good.” I say, let the good be true, and pay attention. Then the brain can have it; you can have it. You can have what’s good.
And it also means turning the rusty gate the other way, a lot. To get the gate swinging the other way, we have to use it that way often. So that means turning the head and looking for what is good in you, in others, in any situation. The old habit is going to be looking for what is wrong. But you can cultivate looking instead for what is good or what went well. What if you did that with the people around you? What if you looked for what is the good in each person, as the first thing you do? What if you really paid attention to what is the good in you? What went well in that last situation? What did I do well? What went well in that meeting? What went well in the family today? You already know what is wrong; you noticed that in half a second. Now take time…at least 11 seconds, to pay attention to what went well. What if you spent time actually looking for what is good in life? How would that change your relationships? How would that change you?
When my clients come to see me they know now that the first thing I will ask them is to tell me something good about the week, before they go on to tell me what is wrong. Sometimes they have to think hard to find something good. Sometimes it is something little. That is okay. Sometimes they spend time in the car thinking about what they are going to say when I ask that. I like it that they do that…Then I know they are spending time finding the good, and that by doing that they are evolving out of the survival brain toward a new kind of brain whose first habit is to find the good, in themselves and in others. Let’s go for an upgrade. Let’s get the old rusty gate swinging the other way on a regular basis! Lets see what could happen if we got lots of human beings to that tipping point. What shift might we create in the world?
Dorothea’s Contact Information:
Dorothea Hrossowyc, MA, RMPA
Rosen Method Bodywork, Somatic Healing and Empowerment Counseling
To order a set of 90 Letting Go of Old Belief Cards with instructions for use, $20; Or for a private phone session, contact Dorothea at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (507) 645-1600