There are at least seven toxic thinking patterns that can put a hold on our brain, and imprison it with pseudo feel-goods, and other lies.
As noted in Part 1, functionally, these topsy-turvy beliefs are protective strategies, designed to activate our defenses when something triggers us. Because this lowers anxiety in varying degrees, it also stimulates the reward centers of the brain — and explains why, at least subconsciously, we associate them with pseudo feel-good feelings.
Our conscious mind likely disagrees, of course. How can thoughts make us “feel good” when they make us feel so bad? Doesn’t make sense, right? It makes sense to our brain and body, however. And, that’s the purpose of this discussion.
Why? They stimulate pleasure and learning centers of the brain similar to addictive substances.
Toxic thinking is characteristically compulsive in nature and causes intense fear-based feelings, which can overwhelm or zap our body’s energy supply. It consists of thoughts that habitually forecast disaster, perpetuate worry, instill doubt, obsess on perfection, describe self (or another) as a victim, or point fingers at others.
So, how can these pain feelings stimulate pleasure?
As amazing as it was to discover that the brain’s ability to heal and change (plasticity) is a basic principle of all healthy brains, there are several more astounding findings that are key in getting to know yourself.
In the words of the Dalai Lama, an avid researcher himself: “Our purpose in life is to be happy. From the very core of our being, we simply desire contentment.”
Thanks to neuroscience and recent findings on the brain and relationships, we now know the brain has amazing capacities when it comes to consciousness, personal healing and change – all of which together amount to happiness. What have we learned?
1. We know that skills for healing and consciousness are inborn capacities, yet they must be learned and cultivated.
“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world … as in being able to remake ourselves.” ~ GANDHI
Up until now, our ideas about learning and change were fairly vague.
It starts from the very first breath when our body tells us we’re now to breathe, eat and digest the nutrients we need to survive on our own, no longer needing our mother’s body to breathe us.
Each task assures us we are fully equipped with everything we need inside to survive and reach our developmental milestones. Later we learn we have inborn miracle-making resources, such as for imagination and possibility thinking, that seemingly invite us to transcend the physical limits of our nature.
Born with a burning curiosity, not unlike scientists, we yearn to know everything there is to know about ourselves and our world. Learning is one of our key attributes as human beings, by the way. A healthy brain is most always in “learning mode” and only in “protective mode” in situations that pose real threats or danger.
How could we have known then, however, what becomes clear later in life, that: these developmental life tasks, as painful as they may be, are designed to grow us, to strengthen and to enrich us, and perhaps to grow our wisdom, every step of the way, so that we learn to live and love authentically with our whole heart?