“Thought changes structure … I saw people rewire their brains with their thoughts, to cure previously incurable obsessions and trauma.” – Norman Doidge, Canadian-born psychiatrist and author of The Brain That Changes Itself.
Neuroplasticity: The essence of the good and the bad
You may find it hard to believe, but your brain can be shaped and adjusted, pretty much in the same way you shape a ball of Play-Doh. Well, it’s not that easy, and requires a bigger effort.
We can freely say that the brain has the capacity of re-engineering. Yes, you are the engineers capable of working on it. Neuroscience has given us tons of evidence confirming this, and we believe that you have already heard of neuroplasticity.
It’s a term that describes the changes of the brain throughout your life. It’s a great thing, and there are a few reasons to see things this way.
- Neuroplasticit increases your I.Q.
- Helps you learn new skills
- Aids in the recovery of brain damage
- Makes you more emotionally intelligent
- Gives you a hand in “unlearning” harmful behaviors, habits and beliefs
This means that some individuals can actually redesign their brain in a different way, working their way to the ‘dark side.’
However, your ability to unlearn destructive behaviors can help you gain control on your brain and the body in general.
Beliefs change the way your brain works
“Neurons that fire together, wire together,” said Donald Hebb, a pioneer of neuroplasticity and neuropsychology.
Dr. Michael Merzenich is the world’s most renowned neuroscientists work on the connection between your thoughts and the structural changes in your brain, confirming its presence.
“Your experiences, behaviors, thinking, habits, thought patterns, and ways of reacting to the world are inseparable from how your brain wires itself,” discovered Dr. Merzenich.
Negative behaviors can change the brain for the worse, and positive habits can do the opposite.
The effect of neuroplasticity on illnesses
“In depression, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the brain. It’s simply that the particular tuning of neural circuits creates the tendency toward a pattern of depression.
It has to do with the way the brain deals with stress, planning, habits, decision making and a dozen other things — the dynamic interaction of all those circuits.
And once a pattern starts to form, it causes dozens of tiny changes throughout the brain that create a downward spiral,” said Alex Korb, Ph.D., and author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a time.
As you can see, neuroplasticity works both as a solution and a problem.
The danger of complaining
As mentioned before, negative behaviors have a huge effect on your general well-being. Here we’d focus on the danger of complaining and it’s affect on brain’s structure and function.
You probably know someone who always shares negativity. It’s the very same person that always complains about something, as if it was nothing in this world that could make them happy and satisfied.
Negative people are constant complainers. The worst part comes when they start sharing their thoughts, and poisoning others. Venting is a good thing, it makes you feel better, but not if you do it all the time. It’s annoying for their friends and family members.
We all complain sometimes, but it’s all good until you keep it in the limits.
There are three types of complainers:
1. Attention-seeking complainers
These crave for attention, and complaining is their only tool. You can hear them saying that everyone else has better luck than them. Ignore this behavior and don’t waste your energy on someone’s negativity.
2. Chronic complainers
They always complain about something. If they don’t, they’re probably thinking about “injustice.”
It’s sort of a compulsory behavior called rumination, a process which involves “repetitively going over a thought or a problem without completion.” There’s a strong link between a depressed, anxious brain and rumination, as confirmed by science.
3. Low-E.Q. Complainers
‘E.Q.’ stands for emotional quotient. These complainers are low on E.Q. It’s tightly associated with emotional understanding, similar to the way I.Q. is related to intelligence.
They will never think or talk about your perspective, thoughts and emotions. In other words, you are the person they go to wherever they want to vent.
Blame it on your brain
Most negative people hate the way they feel, and we completely understand that.
Constant complaining affects your thought processes, and will eventually alter your beliefs and behavior.
Negativity bias is part of your brain, describing its tendency to ignore positive circumstances, and focus on the negative part of everything.
“Negative stimuli produce more neural activity than do equally intensive positive ones. They are also perceived more easily and quickly,” says Dr. Rick Hanson, a neuroscientists and author of Buddha’s Brain.
Every time you focus on the negative side of things and complain, you’re actually firing and re-firing the neurons associated with the negativity bias.
Believe it or not, you are creating the negative behavior through repetition.
You can’t be happy all the time, try to accept that. Don’t even try to feel good every minute of the day. However, you can help yourself, and counteract negative thoughts.
Meditation and mindfulness can help you fight negativity.
According to Barbara Frederickson and her team at the University of North Carolina, regular meditation boosts positive emotions, which is not the case of people who don’t meditate.
“People who meditated daily continued to display increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, and decreased illness symptoms,” explains Frederickson. This conclusion came as a result of a three-month experiment.
Learn the basics of meditation, learn how to breathe, and meditate every day. Research shows that 20-minute sessions can change your brain and make a difference in your life.