As a psychologist, I’ve always been fascinated by the extraordinary capabilities of the human brain. This intricate organ, marvel of evolution, is the seat of our cognition, creativity and consciousness. It orchestrates everything from our simplest actions to our most profound thoughts and emotions. Yet, despite its brilliance, our brain is also a repository of ancient survival strategies that can sometimes sabotage our well-being. Understanding these dual aspects can empower us to navigate life with greater wisdom and resilience.

The amygdala: Guardian of Survival

At the heart of our brain’s survival mechanism lies the amygdala, a small almond-shaped cluster of nuclei deep within the temporal lobes. This ancient part of the brain is our emotional alarm system, responsible for detecting threats and triggering the fight-flight response. While the amygdala’s quick reactions were crucial for our ancestors facing immediate physical dangers, in modern life it can sometimes misfire, leading us to perceive threats where there are none.

For instance, social anxieties, fear of failure, and stress can all activate the amygdala, causing us to react with disproportionate fear or anxiety. Recognizing this can help us to understand why we sometimes feel overwhelmed by emotions that seem irrational.

Reframing Reality: From Fear to Empowerment

One powerful way to counteract the amygdala’s fear-based reactions is through cognitive reframing. This involves shifting our perception of situations from a fear-based perspective to one rooted in strength and empowerment. Here, the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s executive centre located at the front of the brain, plays a crucial role.

The prefrontal cortex is responsible for higher-order thinking, decision-making, and moderating social behaviour. It allows us to analyse situations, foresee consequences, and plan accordingly. By consciously engaging this part of the brain, we can reinterpret challenges not as threats but as opportunities for growth. However, this part of our brain can only come into operation when we feel safe, and not under threat.

The Dopamine Reward System: Fuelling Self-belief

Our brain’s reward system is primarily driven by the neurotransmitter dopamine and is another key player in our cognitive and emotional lives. Dopamine is released in response to rewarding experiences, reinforcing behaviours that lead to pleasure and aatisfaction. This system is crucial for motivation, learning, and the pursuit of goals.

By understanding and leveraging our dopamine reward system, we can foster self-belief and tap into our innate wisdom. Setting small, achievable goals and celebrating each accomplishment releases dopamine, creating a positive feedback loop that encourages us to continue striving towards our aspirations. This approach not only builds confidence but also cultivates a resilient and empowered mindset.

The Power of Hypnosis: Activating Planning and Motivation

Hypnosis is a valuable tool that can enhance our cognitive abilities by accessing our unconscious mind.  During hypnosis, the brain enters a state of focussed attention and heightened suggestibility, which can activate areas involved in planning and motivation, such as the prefrontal cortes.

Hypnosis can help increase our chances of success by:

  1. Enhancing motivation:  By reinforcing positive suggestions and visualizations, hypnosis can bolster our motivation to achieve goals, fostering a proactive mindset.
  2. Planning for success; Hypnosis can aid in the detailed visualisation of future successes, effectively training the brain to create and follow through with plans, thus enhancing our ability to achieve set objectives.
  3. Understanding saboteurs: Hypnosis can also help uncover and address the root causes of self-sabotaging behaviours. By bringing unconscious fears and anxieties to the surface, it allows us to understand and reframe these issues, promoting healing and positive change.

Bringing Ancient Instincts with Modern Wisdom

The human brain, with its blend of ancient survival mechanisms and advanced cognitive functions, is a remarkable organ capable of both brilliance and sabotage. In the journey of understanding our minds, we not only unlock the secrets of our cognition and creativity but also discover the profound capacity for growth, healing, and transformation that lies within each of us.  Now is the opportunity to embrace this knowledge and explore the boundless possibilities of our brain and mind.