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BRAIN TRAINING

| aussie.brain.coach | the brain and behaviour coach |

Being a teacher for 15 years, I thought I knew brains and learning... particularly since I spent over a decade studying and specialising in neurodiversity and learning difficulties... however, it wasn't until I suffered a traumatic brain injury that I truly understood the brain, how it works, how to re-program it and why it does the things it does. 

WHAT NEED TO KNOW ABOUT OUR BRAIN...
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The brain has 2 primary functions. The first is to keep us safe.

There are 3 brains - neo cortex, mammalian and reptilian.

There are 2 types of programming - conscious and unconscious thinking and both drive our behaviour.

The brain has a system to form meaning and it depends on the individual's experiences that dictates how it makes meaning.

There is an automatic risk detection system operating constantly using our unconscious programming.

Our brain and body work together to do things like keep us safe and alive, again, operating without our awareness.

Important facts that most people are not aware of, is how our brain uses (i) our emotions along with (ii) existing neural pathways to comprehend and then respond, behave or take action. If we think about the brain's operating system like computer software and this software was hard wired by around age 9-12 years of age. From this age onwards, the software grows using the existing underlying hard-wired system, which forms the unconscious mind.

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Think of the brain like a computer device and the mind (conscious and unconscious) is the software programming that runs the brain.

Humans are not designed to analyse our unconscious mind nor are we equipped with strategies to adjust it, particularly in moments of perceived threat or uncertainty. However our brain does have a filtering system to manage the humongous amounts of information (11 billion bits per second) and able to consciously hold onto 40-50 bits per second. You can imagine how many details we miss using the filter system.

With the brain's primary function to detect any potential emotional or physical risks, it uses a simple strategy in the limbic system and the existing hard wired system (unconscious programming) to identify a potential risk. There is copious amounts of research available, however the most effective model to understand the neuroscience is the amygdala hijack. 

The Amygdala can be activated in 4 ways:

  • detects a potential risk or threat - emotional or physical;

  • triggered a response;

  • fear conditioning - by association (Pavlov's theory);

  • intensity of emotions;

 

When a risk is identified the limbic brain immediately flags the experience as "uncertain" and automatically hijack the brain and body to keep us safe and avoid the risk at all costs.

 

This is the source of inconsistent performance and the cause of unexplainable low/poor performances from experienced knowledgeable individuals. It is our neurobiological wiring that keeps us safe and alive. The unconscious mind using its existing programming and the amygdala for detecting potential risks (emotional and physical) and they cannot decipher between past, present or future. They are designed to activate the fear response automatically as a preventative measure to keep us safe.

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This activation occurs at the unconscious level and floods the body with chemicals and electrical pulses to put our entire nervous system into a heightened state of alert. Physiologically, our breathing quickens and becomes shallow as the sack around our internal organs (peritoneum) contracts in order to save energy and send it else where in the body. We experience this a tighten internally in our abdomen, often referred to as a visceral response. 

Our blood pressure rises pushing blood around our body to increase reaction time. Our muscles have been filled with proteins for strength and adrenaline is pumping around our body to do what is necessary to react quickly without thinking. Neurologically, access to logical thinking is not available. The brain's software has shut down access to the neo cortex and minimised access to the mammalian brain. Our amygdala is now short circuiting the normal operating system and we find ourselves in survival mode to function during the uncertain environment.​

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Our physiology is in survival mode. Our thinking is unconscious. Our actions are not logical. Neuro-chemically, we are in this heightened state for at least 20 minutes. If further potential risks are sensed, survival mode will continue with further chemical flooding and electrical pulses, increased adrenalin for reactivity, to maintain the fear response.

What's in the way... is the way

This has long been one of my favourite mantras that I heard when I just started my recovery and it become my inner compass when trying working through some very dark and challenging times. It forms part of the brain training that  connects you with your internal operating system, intuition and amplify your decision making.

NOW THAT WE KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING.... HOW DO WE CHANGE IT.....?

Brain Re-training...

Mindset coaching helps individuals develop mindfulness strategies to incorporate into their lives in order to manage their mental health, build a relationship with self and enjoy the different parts of life that come our way. It has changed the narrative around mental health / mental fitness and I incorporate many mindset techniques and strategies into the brain training programs I use with people.

 

Brain training is the next level up which requires training and knowledge of our neurology, brain function and experience in neurodiversity along with using neuroscience techniques to create change at the core level of thinking... the unconscious mind.

I often refer to it as 'updating' our software to bring congruency between our unconscious programming and conscious thinking. It involves unpacking the existing thinking and decoding the meaning that we have given different experiences, memories and emotions previously in our lives. It may sound a little woo woo but after navigating a brain injury and understanding brain function... this work has become incredibly important for those who find themselves stuck in an area of their life without knowing why. The answers and freedom are in identifying the unconscious mind and adjusting it to align with your life and achieve what you want to achieve, now.

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As part of my study and training, the quote above explains my pursuit in finding answers for my own brain. I discovered various laws and principles in my obsession with getting my brain working again. Obsessed with what didn't work, quickly became the strategy I used to navigate my recovery. "What's in the way... is the way."

 

Relentless study and research into neural programming, neuroscience and our physiology provided me with the skillset to accurately identify my behaviours. To then decode my thinking that was driving the behaviours and then implement and trial techniques in neuroplasticity to re-wire my brain to a level of functioning, I desperately want to return to.

What I didn't realise is that it equipped me with incredible knowledge, experience and insights into our neurology and a high level of proficiency in identifying mental blocks/ obstacles in people that were preventing achievement in their lives.

Fast forward 7 years, I am now tertiary trained in 32 neurological frameworks and have spent thousands of hours researching 'losing streaks' and the neurological drivers behind unexplained behaviours and how stress hijacks our mind when in pursuit of our goals.

 

I am deeply fascinated with this unpopular topic and given the little research, papers and studies on the topic... I become even more determined to learn as much as I could, to assist people who find themselves unable to shift out of this state of being, which I have come to know as 'unconscious stress response'.

The great news is... this is very common and resolvable. 

 

Almost everyone who is pursuing their dreams and pushing themselves to move through fear to attain an important goal or milestone, will come up against this stress response. I help people to become equipped with the tools to move through this experience before it happens OR when they are stuck in the experience. 

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