Holding The Elephant Captive
In a sense, our minds can hold us captive. Because of conditioning, our beliefs can become set, depriving us of all hope, of even attempting to change our ways. Conditioning can go both ways – it can either hold us captive, or it can release us from our bondage. And one way to become released from bondage is to practice repetition so positive, that the mind will come to believe it is so.
When wild elephants are captured in Africa they are fenced off and left there for a certain period of time. After a form of brainwashing, they become tamed. Then, upon being taken to a circus, for example, they are shackled to the ground by one leg for long periods. In time, they grow accustomed to it, with the understanding and acceptance that they cannot break loose from the chain that held them for so long. Through repetition, they come to believe they cannot escape their bondage. Weighing in at several tons, it is obvious to anyone, that with one simple tug the elephant could be off and running. But these elephants don’t know this – they have become conditioned to believe it is not possible, so they give up trying. And so, we too, tend to give up when things seem fruitless – when we cannot seem to break away from the chain that binds us. That chain can be broken; the chain that holds us down is our belief system.
Negative thoughts cause pessimistic behavior patterns, just as pessimistic behavior patterns cause negative thoughts. People say “sticks and stones shall break your bones, but names shall never hurt you.” Well, words can stick in your head; thoughts can stick in your mind. Negative things your parents, your friends, your enemies and even total strangers have told you, can become etched in the subconscious mind. Like a recording, it plays, on and on, whether you are aware of it, or not. Things you wouldn’t dream of thinking consciously can be sitting there undermining your thoughts, sabotaging your very ideals.
The consequences can result in inner conflicts, turmoil and sometimes utter confusion.
The Mind Can Actually Change The Brain!
Altering The Belief System
“The mind can change the brain:” according to psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz in a Newsweek article on February 26 1996. During the month of February, Dr. schwartz and four UCLA colleagues reported in the Archives of General Psychiatry that the mind can be at least as powerful as medicine when it comes to remodeling the brain.
Behavioral modification, (altering the way a person behaves,) and cognitive therapy, (altering the way a person thinks,) can alter the biology of their brains.
It is true that a leopard can’t change its spots – just as a person cannot change the color of their skin. But as human beings, we can adjust our thinking, which in turn alters our behavior, which leads to a change in our personality. Inevitably, this person, along with all the characteristics, identities, individualities, mannerisms, dispositions and traits becomes subject to some form of physiological change. Actors do this all the time.
In order to induce a positive message into the subconscious, the old message must be removed. Since the undesirable old message is not automatically erased by the desired new message, it must be nullified by inducing a positive message. In the following example, the positive fresh message or image serves to replace the fixated, stale message:
“Your old feelings, attitudes and fixations about smoking have now been dismissed. They are now erased and extracted from your subconscious, so that they are replaced only by positive confirmations. Repeat after me: As far as my health and my breathing, I have but one desire – and that is, that I breathe clean, fresh air, rather than saturating my system with smoke. Throughout the day, I shall breathe only the fresh air given to me naturally.”
The first principle in attempting to alter negative behavior is to realize that we are all creatures of habit. Since positive habits are far more beneficial than bad habits, the key is to initiate a positive habit strong enough to overcome the bad habit. This can be accomplished by developing new patterns, or by selecting a habit so effective and enjoyable that it acts to overpower the undesirable bad habit.
The second principle, in order to affect a change is to “rename” the habit, for instance, “I am having a nicotine urge,” rather than an attack. Verbalizing the truth sometimes makes for the best medicine.
The third principle, provided the case is true, is to attribute the urge to a “biochemical imbalance in the brain” and begin developing new patterns. (Admitting that the problem is chemical, rather than having a mental weakness, is closer to the truth, relieving unnecessary guilt – then the impetus to change becomes easier.)
The fourth principle in order to affect change is to “refocus” on some positive, constructive activity for fifteen minutes. This engages another part of the brain and alters the brain circuits that initially caused them to become stuck. Between developing new patterns, “renaming” and “refocusing” it is possible that the mind can ‘rewire’ neural synapses that link to phobias and depression.