One of the most exciting discoveries of recent times is the neuroplasticity of the brain. This is the capacity of the brain to learn and create new neurons. It’s the opposite of what was previously thought about how age would mean losing neurons.
Research is consistently showing that we can affect how our brains rewire themselves and create new neural networks which can override preexisting ones…like habits, for example. Guess what, you can change them.
Let’s say you are experiencing a block in your life; particular neural networks can be seen to light up on the fMRI. Neuroplasticity can be created by interrupting those networks with positive new thoughts and visuals. The idea is that the brain reframes the block and begins to create new audio and visuals the next time the trigger for the block appears.
We call that Pattern interruption and it is a great option, at any time, for stopping a negative pattern, loop, or thought. Interrupt yourself right away by creating the opposite positive audio, image, or movie: Go for a stroll or run in the neighborhood, take a coffee break, or take five deep, slow breaths. While you’re doing that, imagine the positive version of the image or audio in your mind.
Tell your brain the positive version of what you would like it to do. If you’re feeling negative or stressed, most likely you have been creating negative thoughts. Talk to yourself in the same way in which you would talk to a friend, family member, or a partner. Your unconscious is always listening.
Much of the work accomplished in hypnosis involves a resetting of the mind that can help an individual change their unwanted behaviors. Clients enter a mental space where they can look at old beliefs, understand how they originated, and rewrite those which are holding them back.
Depending on the suggestions given, hypnosis is usually a relaxing experience, which can be very useful with a patient who is tense or anxious. However, the main usefulness of the hypnotic state is the increased effectiveness of suggestion and access to mind/body links or unconscious processing.
When patients are highly anxious, they are operating at an emotional, rather than cognitive level and using their imagination to create possible catastrophic scenarios.
Hypnosis could be seen as a meditative state, which one can learn to access consciously and deliberately, for a therapeutic purpose. Suggestions are then given either verbally and using imagery which creates a new vision of what is more desired. It could be about wanting to feel calmness and relaxation or to help allay pain.
In other words, if a client feels stuck in any way it is always possible to get off that particular loop through a deliberate change to the mind. It can be Pattern Interrupt or a hypnosis session which redirects the repetitive negative behavior toward what the client really wants.
Neuroplasticity is consistently showing us that we don’t have to be stuck in repeating patterns. And what I have come to understand is, yes, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.