In Part I and Part II, we considered two of three basic adaptations to change the brain makes to strengthen existing behaviors, or to adjust or expand them with modifications.
A third type of change occurs when the brain adapts to new behaviors.
In this post we discuss the third type of change adaptation, and five factors that can either enhance or block the willingness of your brain to adapt to new learning or change. The foundation of all learning occurs when your brain:
Whether it involves learning a new sport, a fresh perspective on life or a second language, whenever you learn something new, it makes demands of your brain to do some overhaul work.
- To adapt to new learning, more specifically, your brain engages in processes that grow new neurons and recruit them into the existing connecting circuitry.
- For every neuron, new connecting pathways and synaptic terminals must also be added to the neural network.
As you can imagine, even a relatively simple behavior, such as learning how to play a musical instrument or wind sailing as a first sport, if it is totally new, can seem daunting at first. It involves some dynamic restructuring of old neural patterns in order to add new ones.
This type of change is the most challenging, and will require consistent effort, determination to break free of old self-reinforcing patterns, and the body’s natural resistance to change protective patterns, in particular. This can seem taxing to you, for several reasons:
- It pulls on more of your body’s resources, mental, emotional and physical, in every way.
- It requires determined effort and an ability to sustain momentum to get past the naturally uncomfortable feelings you may feel when you learn something new.
- It is only natural to feel a bit awkward or clumsy, for example, and perhaps even wonder if you’re up to the task.
In other words, when you want to learn a new behavior, to be successful, you need to know how to sustain optimal emotional states in the most emotionally taxing circumstances.
Some new learning is even more challenging. When is comes to healing unwanted patterns, such an addiction or social anxiety, for example, this involves deeper, more transformative change.
Ideally, new learning occurs regularly throughout life. Once your brain ‘accepts’ the new learning, it is integrated and becomes part of subconscious processes. This is how your brain builds your personal banks of knowledge, understanding and wisdom as well.
Whether a new learning gets integrated into the vast neural network of your brain, however, is another matter altogether. This depends on whether it gets past the protective filters of your brain.
Your subconscious mind, the part of the mind that operates the brain and body, can have a mind of its own.
It depends on how open your brain is to adapting to a new behavior change.