Mary Casey and Shannon Murphy Robinson, co-founders of BrainSkills@Work, discuss how to optimize our brain power to create sustained positive change. personal effectiveness, professional development and transformation. There are ways that the brain work for us and against us. The brain is wired around two main goals, speed and efficiency, and is designed around “patterns and maps” which help up us achieve those goals. The more we do something, like repeating an action, behavior or thought, the more we create a neuropathway in the brain that becomes the quick easy path the brain follows. Our habitual ways of doing things become the map for the brain so on its own, it doesn’t know what to do to make long term changse. We create a physical pathway in the brain every time we practice something. When we develop new habits, the brain ‘works against us’ as it resists the unfamiliar new actions and we begin to doubt ourselves and can develop negative thinking. The brain gets stuck and that affects how we think of ourselves, with the brain looking for confirming evidence of those negative thoughts. We think these thoughts are true but it’s only because the brain resists the new thinking. Mary and Shannon encourage people to get out of the limbic brain state and move into the neocortex state.
There are several ways to move the brain into the higher, neocortex state. When we set an intention for what we want to change, like health and vitality, the brain helps us understand the gap between intention and action. Neuroplasticity means the brain is ‘plastic’ and it is dynamic and constantly changing. So the good news is that we can rewire pathways to create new habits. We can access higher brain states with more focused attention and repetition and an awareness of what brain states we are in. Then we can make changes if necessary to make shifts in behavior.
Our guests define the various brain states, which are the way brain responds, including the the reptilian brain, the limbic area and the neocortex. The reptilian brain is the basic responses we have to events in our lives. The limbic system is where the emotions are centered, operating just under the surface of the brain. Here we can be more vulnerable as it’s where the brain is looking for threats and it will react to perceived threats.
In the neocortex lies our ability to transform our thinking out of limiting thoughts and unconscious habits that make it difficult to make positive change. The goal is to enable people to operate more out of the neocortex state. For transformational thinking, we are in the highest, neocortex brain stage where we can shift how we see ourselves and the world around us. Mary and Shannon give an example of how to access the higher brain state where we can make and sustain long-term change. For more information, please visit www.brainskillsatwork.com.
NOTE: Mary Casey and Shannon Murphy Robinson will be speaking on July 26 at the Summer Leadership program at the University of St. Catherine in St. Paul about Neuroscience Meets Leadership.