Have you heard of the science of Neuroplacticity? This marvel of science is defined as the brain’s natural ability to form new connections in order to compensate for injury or changes in one’s environment.
I think of it as creating new maps inside our head.
Do you remember when you learned how to ride a bike? How many years ago was that?
I bet you can still get on a bike now and remember how to ride. Your brain has a map of that process and without much thought you are flying down the street!
Everything we have ever done and learned has made “impressions” in our brain and those lessons are imprinted. The more we practice something the better we get.
This works really well if what we are practicing will give us a return of a happy and joy filled life.
It does not work so well when the things we do repeatedly causes us stress and pain.
Recently, I met a very gifted woman who has had worldwide success with her artwork.
I was at a health spa in Southern India and I first saw her screaming at the desk attendant that “after all these bloody years, why
couldn’t she just have a bloody electric kettle to make her bloody coffee?”
I immediately extended my hand and said, “Hi, it sounds like you are having a heck of a time getting your coffee.”
She quickly apologized for the loud voice and said she was just being a bitch.
I stuck around and we chatted. Within 10 minutes I had her whole life history and all the stuff that had gone wrong.
I thought she was having a really bad day.
I saw her again at dinner and we sat together, and again she repeated all the woes of her life.
We said goodnight and I was happy that her bad day was over.
The next day, we saw each other for all three meals and the stories were the exact same! This was not an “I’m having a bed day thing” this was a “my life sucks” thing.
She was consistent!
On the 3rd day, I challenged her to only say what she was grateful for and to her credit, she switched gears…for five minutes and then BAM, she was right back in the story of “woe is me”.
I felt like I wanted to run and hide.
This woman had complained about her lot and lack for so long that she created a sheath of myelin so thick around lack that she literally could not manage to stay positive for more than 5 minutes.
I can come up with at least 20 things that I see as great and awesome in her life.
I also think she is an awesome woman…but not when she is complaining as though it is her profession.
If she wants to change this negative behavior she has to create NEW neuro-pathways in her brain. She has to invoke the magic of neuroplacticity and start laying down new sheaths of myelin.
How does one create new pathways?
The first step is to KNOW that you want something different than what you have.
Want to learn a new language?
Get the point?
You have to have a plan around the new thing you want to learn.
If she wants to be more positive, it is a matter of practicing. She could set aside 10 minutes daily to write down all of the positives in her life or enlist a friend to help her see the power of the positive once daily.
When I suggested that she start or end her day with a list of gratitude items, she told he she can’t do that. I asked if she knew how to write?
She then said it would be too much work.
The next step for creating a new pathway is to believe that the work is worth the result you wish to achieve.
If you do not believe that you have the power to create change or that you are worthy of the effort, you will not change.
You must ask yourself these questions:
1. Do you want it? Really want it?
2. Are you are willing to take small steps to making the new habit?
3. Do you believe that you are worth the new life you say you want?
I have been accused of singular focus when I decide to do something. I decided to do a triathlon, so I had to learn to swim competitively. I went to swim class every day for 3 months. I never even considered that I could not complete the triathlon. I created new neuro-pathways in my brain.
These days when I decide to do something new, I just start small and stay the course.
I was recently diagnosed with diabetes and I promised my doctor that I would turn my numbers around. I completely gave up bread and cakes and sweets and within 4 months my numbers were better.
We have the power to make significant changes in our lives, if only we accept the challenge to do something differently.
How could my love of bread and cake be more important than my love of my legs and my eyesight?
Diabetes steals eyesight and amputations in diabetics are common when the patient is out of control.
Who would I blame if these things were to happen?
What changes would you like to make this year?
How can you help yourself to keep those steps small and manageable?
The journey of one thousand steps really does start with the first.
Enjoy the journey, each step of it and have faith that the destination will be glorious because you have taken charge of your own destiny.
In fourteen hundred and ninety two,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue…
And all hell broke loose
Hell? Yep! HELL!
Indigenous peoples were summarily killed off by exotic diseases, bayonets or gunfire…at least from their points of view!
There are many off shoots of the original Columbus story…may I present my own?
Hundreds of years ago my innocent ancestors were shoved aboard British Cargo ships and taken to the West Indies, which Columbus had earlier discovered.
My ancestors were packed like sardines into the hulls of the cargo ships along with other precious human cargo from the African continent.
The Indians and the Africans were transported to the faraway islands to be slaves and indentured laborers.
They did not have to have any actual currency…they only paid with their lives!
If they survived the torturous journey they got to disembark IN chains!
They were then immediately put to work in the sugar cane fields and that is how hundreds of years later a baby girl called Indrani Nathu came to be born in Trinidad and Tobago!
My great, great, great, great grandfather was unceremoniously transported to the newly discovered West Indies…a ONEWAY passage into a life of Hell.
He left all that he had ever known and would never be able to see his parents or siblings again… just think of this for one minute.
Imagine someone coming into your city and taking one of your sons and you never see him again. He is alive…just unavailable to you!
All alone on the other side of the world and probably not speaking a word of English, he made a life for himself. He found someone to marry and his offspring belonged to his Master.
In 1953, I was born into an East Indian family, now completely living a West Indian life.
I never thought about my ancestors, I lived my life and accepted all that had happened without giving thought to their hardships.
BUT now, I am going BACK to a city that I have never been to…except through my ancestral blood line.
I am completing the ROUND TRIP for my ancestors who were so sadly stripped from all that they knew.
I am heading to Chennai, India to teach my workshops on Domestic Violence.
I feel so honored to be completing this journey for my family. I only wish I knew where to find my people so I could tell them that their beloved sons survived and married and eventually thrived.
In the absence of knowing exactly which families I came from, I will honor all the people I meet and treat them all as family knowing that some elements of my DNA probably lives within them.
This journey has come full circle…and it does feel like coming home.
Love and light,
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Your support will be used towards covering the costs of the free one-day or two-day, in-person training the ILF Team provides to the advocates at domestic violence organizations across the United States. Your support has already paid for training in Texas, Oregon, Washington, California, Pennsylvania, Alabama, and Illinois.