Emotions. We all have them, and we all react and respond with them.
The question is … for how long?
If you hang on to your emotions for a long period of time, they become your identity.
Yes, your identity. Something that you give yourself. A lot of it has to do with your values, your morals and what you stand for.
You see, we have memorised our emotions, which have become our personality, which is how we portray and live in our identity. Mind you, we have a cupboard filled with different personality traits that we pull out depending on the occasion.
On top of that, we have created so many limitations for ourselves by giving so much power to our memorised emotions. We have classified them as our identity so strongly that we have created our reality around them.
Let’s backtrack a little and look at how our emotions evolve.
Our thinking brains
We have three brains – neo cortex, limbic and reptilian.
Our neo cortex is the newest brain in evolution. It is our thinking brain … the seat of our conscious awareness.
As you are sitting here reading this article, it is your neo cortex that is present. While you are reading, your neo cortex is gathering information.
Every time you learn something new, you are making new synaptic connections in your thinking brain.
That’s what learning is.
Neurons that fire together, wire together
Neuroscience tells us that nerve cells that wire together, fire together. In other words, every time you learn something new, your brain physically changes.
For example, you can read a book on how to create boundaries, or you can do a course on copywriting, or immerse yourself in yoga. Whatever that is for you, in the background, your brain is upgrading its hardware to a new level of mind.
You biologically wire that information into your cerebral architecture.
The hardware is the brain, the software is the mind.
If learning is about creating new synaptic connections, then remembering is maintaining and sustaining these synaptic connections. Just like any relationship, the more you communicate and connect, the more you bond. Neurons are the same way.
Once these neurons fire and wire together, they form what neuroscientists call neural networks.
Just like an orchestra, a group of musical instruments that play in harmony and bond, the neurons that have fired and wired together have now created a community. The resulting neural network can be related to an idea, a memory, a feeling, a concept, a behaviour or an experience.
These networks actually have an electrical component. A thought alone emits electricity. This is your mind in action.
Did you know that you create more electrical pulses than all of the smart phones on the planet?
Mind is what the brain does
When you become the observer of your thinking, you can change your thoughts.
Let’s continue with the same example of reading a book on boundaries. If you really resonated with the book, you will start to think about it all the time. Then you start to talk about it all the time.
Until one day, your friend violates your boundaries.
Normally, you would let it slide and make up an excuse for your friend, but this time you decide to apply what you read from the book.
Once you ‘experience’ your new knowledge in action, you begin to break down the circuits of your memorised emotions.
Neurons that no longer wire together, no longer fire together. Now, your brain fires in new ways. It creates new neural pathways and new connections.
Your mind in action is changing your brain.
This is what neuroscientists call neuroplasticity – where you have transformed the new learning to that deeper part of your brain.
Prime your mind for grandeur
You can see that by activating your limbic brain purely from an actual experience, you are now creating a new reality. You are biologically and neurologically unhooking from your old self and creating a new version of you.
Successful individuals understand that we are a product of our past and that if we prime our brain, we can alter and heighten our ways of thinking. Therefore, we can show up in a new form of being.
I know, I hear you. How do we prime our brain, Catherine?
Well, you can create simple morning routines. You can set a daily intention for the day as a way to set the path for your mind.
You could also listen to inspirational podcasts and interviews, watch motivational videos or read a couple of pages from a book that stimulates your mind. You can also collect elevated quotes for the day, or create a vision board or dream board for the month so to keep you super focused.
Personally, I encourage you to write a daily gratitude list. The reason is that as a society, we often aspire to have more, be more or do more and forget what we do have. Sometimes it’s as simple as being alive or breathing every day. We take the simplest things in life for granted.
A daily practise of gratitude will raise your emotions to a new prominence, a new stature and a new pinnacle.
If knowledge is for the mind, then experience is for the body. Therefore, we may want to skip or dance because we are experiencing exalted emotions.
The factory of our emotions
In her book Molecules of Emotions, Dr Candace Pert shares with us that as our feelings change, this mixture of peptides travels throughout our body and brain. In addition, they are literally changing the chemistry of every cell in our body. Cool, right?
This takes us to the limbic part of our brain – our emotional and chemical brain. The neuropeptides that Dr Pert talks about are small, protein-like molecules used by neurons to communicate with one another. They are neuronal signalling molecules that influence the activity of our brain and body in specific ways.
When people ask us, ‘why are you so bitter?’ or ‘why are you so angry?’ that’s because our brain in that emotion is experiencing the chemical residue of our past. It’s going to call up the actual event because we are emotionally connected to it. After, we are going to say, ‘I am this way because of that past experience’.
We are bringing our past into our present.
We never have to revisit our past events and bring our memorised emotions into our present. By doing so, we are creating our future because when we bring our past events into the present, we are opening up Pandora’s Box.
What you really want to do is overcome the emotion. That’s what is lasting from the event.
To read the second piece of this two-part blog series on breaking down the complexity of emotions and the human brain, click here.