You love them. You love planning them. Picturing all the stuff you’ll enjoy.
Saturday morning dawns. You open your eyes. Then you feel it. Weekend tension headache. A band encircling your forehead. Maybe it’s a niggle. Maybe it’s a vice-like grip. You decide it’s not too bad and you can put up with it.You take a tablet and force yourself to carry on. Kidding yourself that no-one notices you’re not your usual sparky self.
Training your Brain
What’s so wrong with that? This. You are unwittingly teaching yourself how to get more tension headaches.
This is where I’m supposed talk to you about neuroplasticity and brain anatomy. How events change your brain. The amygdala, the frontal cortex, the hypothalamus. But. That’s all a bit too cold, for me. Relating to a wrinkly, walnut-looking thing isn’t easy.
Instead I like to picture the brain as being co-ordination central, manned by a bunch of overall wearing workies. All with their own characteristics. The grumpy one, the lazy one, the organiser, the chief. (Like The Numbskulls. Thank you ‘The Beano’).
OK. Now you have your cast of characters.
Here’s the story.
Picture this. It’s a beautiful summer’s day. You’re out for a stroll, the sun gently warming your back. The birds are chirping in the trees. All is good. You reach a field. Full of lumps and bumps. You’d like to continue but, there’s no path. Hmm.
Carefully, you pick your way across. It takes you a while. Finally you reach the other side and look back. Noticing that you’ve made the faintest of paths. Now the workies in control centre sit up and take notice.
“Incoming Job” is the message received. “We want a path here”. And off gets sent Lazy. He tramples down the grass a bit. Then mooches off.
Some weeks later, remembering how much you enjoyed that walk. You return. It takes a little way but you find the path. It’s different.
A little wider. And, travelling along it you see people pushing hands carts. It’s busy and those annoying handcarts keep bumping into you.
Yet you choose to trudge on regardless. It takes you longer to cross.
The Brain Loves efficiency
“New Instructions” is the message now received. “This path is too slow. We’ve got to make it faster.” And off gets sent the Organiser. She’ll get the job done.
Some days later, you’re back again. You remember last time wasn’t as much fun. Maybe this time will be different. It is.
The path is a tarmac road. Cars, bikes, trucks are speeding along.
You can’t stroll. You have to dash. You’re afraid you’ll get hit.
But you choose to carry on, regardless of the consequences.
Those handcarts and cars are danger signals, alerting your brain something is wrong.
That tarmac road lets them travel quickly to and from your muscles and your brain.
The brain loves efficiency. The more we practice something, the better we get at it. Is that the end of the story? The good news is no, not it is not. You can discover how to make a new story. You can learn how to dig up that tarmac road. You can kick out those trucks and car.
You can learn to retrain your brain
It isn’t easy and the changes don’t happen overnight. But they do happen.