How to Physically Change Our Minds

How much control do you have over your brain?


In this backstage interview from Leadercast Live 2019, communication pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf, explains that people have a lot more control over how their brains work than they realize. 

“You're not a victim of your brain, you're not a victim of your circumstances,” she says. “There's a lot more power and resilience inside of us than we actually realize.”

Watch the video for a look at how to rewire your brain and establish new habits.

- We can change our minds more than we know.
- It takes around 63 days to rethink how we think.
- A habit of awareness can rewire our minds.

I'm a cognitive neuroscientist, but what I essentially do is help people to understand how to use their mind. Help people to use their mind and understand that they can change their brain which means you're not a victim of your brain, you're not a victim of your circumstances. Because there's a lot more power and resilience inside of us than we actually realize.

I do a lot of work in mental health. A lot of work across the board in education, corporate, with people, with humanity really, showing people the insight into how they function.

The first thing is to understand that you can change, that you have a lot of control. You realize, first of all, that you are not your brain, that you can change your brain. That your brain simply responds to your mind. That your brain is only part of your one percent physical, but your mind has this ability that we have as humans to think and feel and choose. As you think feel and choose, we changing our brain and changing our reality. Something that we're doing over and over like a habit, a habit took time to build.

We know from science, a lot of the science that I've done is looking at how long habits take to form in time. It takes up to 63 days for a habit to form. It takes 21 days for a long-term memory to form. People often think it's 21 days for a habit, but it's actually three cycles of 21. But, it'll take around about 63 days to rewire your brain to become aware of it to rewire it. It's a process of becoming aware, and then going through a process of redesigning. What do you want? You don't want that habit, so you reconceptualize it.

But essentially, the first step is to become aware. We are able to self-regulate and that's what science shows us. We are able to self-regulate our thinking. We're able to kind of stand back and observe our own thinking literally every five to 10, more or less every 10 seconds. Stand back. Observe you're own thinking. What keeps coming up over and over? It's the physical structure that you built in your brain, because as you think feel and choose, you wire a physical protein, treelike structure into the brain which holds your memory.

By being aware of it which is your first step, you weaken it. Then, you go through a process of deep focused thinking of, “Why am I doing that? Why?” You keep asking the why questions until you get to a basic solution of kind of start getting direction.
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Dr. Caroline Leaf

Caroline holds a master’s and a Ph.D. in communication pathology and a bachelor’s in logopaedics, specializing in cognitive and metacognitive neuropsychology. Since the early 1980s, Caroline has researched the mind-brain connection, t...

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