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How your brain is wired

If we have a favourite restaurant we just crave to go there over and over again. And we have a much-loved colour that dominates our wardrobe. And a darling hair stylist. And a secure friend circle. We invest time and energy in becoming comfortable with one thing and that becomes our identity. We favour blue not green. We enjoy Italian cuisine not Chinese. We like physics not biology. Our likes define us, make us who we think we are, and give us a sense of control.

We think our needs are being met and we are happy where we are right now. Needs drive all human action. If we are comfortable where we are, and our needs do not seem threatened, we are happier to stay right there. Unless we feel severely vulnerable about something we refuse to change. Think about it:

  • My body weight is all right; I don’t really require any exercise!
  • I have a group of friends; I don’t need to know more people!
  • I’m just about passing the exam; I don’t have to work harder!
  • What good is learning a new language going to do to me?
  • Why are we moving home? This school and house is just fine!
  • Why do I have to clean the room? It’s going to get like this again!
  • Why do I have to go to dinner? I don’t even know those people!

We all have gotten our needs met by our patterns of behaviour, and we fear (frequently in a rather unconscious manner) that things will be worse, or at least less satisfying, if we do things any differently.

Why we resist change (even if it may be for the better)

At times when we know that we are not happy and still resist change; simply because we don’t know what the new proposition will be — like a known devil who we believe is better than the unknown one. The journey looks painful and we get wary, we don’t know where to jump and how high the jump must be to miss falling into the fire from the frying pan. We don’t trust the people (friends, parents, siblings, teachers, guides) who are directing us to change. And above all, we are stubborn, sluggish and inflexible; we think we know best and we ignore seeing the brighter side maybe because it’s shining just too bright and hurting our eyes.

The animal in us

  • Heard of the ostrich that buries his head in the sand whenever danger strikes?
  • Seen the rat that is so black and hard to see, and just pops up to make a big mess?
  • Know of the tiger who says ‘I am the boss and I will destroy whatever comes my way’?
  • Or of the hyenas that attack, hurt and do wrong simply because they are in a big pack?
  • Or of a snail that is oh so slow, creeping at its pace because nothing in this world matters?

These are all animals in us that resist change; we’re too confident or too meek, too slow or too scared, and too stubborn or too vain. Try and find your own home truth of who you really are. Try and see what is holding you back and do something about it.

Your brain is plastic!

Well, plasticity does not mean that your brain is made of plastic; it implies the brain’s ability to change. Brain cells or neurons can alter their protein structure, reorganize themselves by forming new connections and allow us to be someone we had never imagined; or rather imagined but not believed in.

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Dr Shefali Batra is a Psychiatrist and Mindfulness Coach. Connect with her on Instagram @drshefalibatra and read more about her work at drshefalibatra.com.

Dr Shefali Batra

Dr Shefali Batra is a Psychiatrist and Mindfulness Coach. Connect with her on Instagram @drshefalibatra and read more about her work at drshefalibatra.com.