Beliefnet
Depression Help

Life is full of moments of people disagreeing with you about something. But is it because these people are negative personality types? Or is it because their opinions are so deeply entrenched in their thought processes?

It all has to do with thinking patterns. As we grow older, our brain establishes neural networks. The more a neural path is used, the stronger it gets. Networks will spring out of the main pathway, giving rise to sub-ideas about a subject. Again, the more a network is used, the more entrenched that connection becomes. In other words, the more times that your brain thinks about something in a particular way, the deeper the idea gets fixed in your mind in a particular way.

It’s possible to change the rigidity of your neural pathway, but if the pathway is usually or always the first choice to be accessed by your brain when processing information, chances are you’ve established that line of thinking into long-term memory.

Long term memory is difficult to change. Ideas are usually fixed. Its like trying to break apart a mountain with a pickaxe. Behaviours and attitudes also are rigid. If you always get mad about jello, it’s going to be tough getting you to feel good about jello because long-term memory keeps telling you jello is bad. Your body is used to reacting poorly to jello. So without thinking, your body reacts. It’s called cellular memory. Actions are fixed in the ‘memory’ or reflex of the body. You hear ‘jello’ and your body becomes tense, heart rate increases, and adrenaline starts flowing, all without conscious control.

The rigid patterns of thinking can be changed but it’s a long process. If your father-in-law is always disagreeing with you it might be he’s not arguing about the issue, but his brain remembers he doesn’t like you. As long as that initial thought stays unchallenged, he will continue disliking you even if you and he love the same football team.

So learn to pick your battles. It’s tough to change thinking patterns if that’s how you’ve reacted to people and situations all your life. Approach the challenge with a positive attitude but be prepared for the possibility that nothing will change. Ideas can be deeply held onto by the brain even if they are completely wrong. Don’t take it personally when a person has a different opinion than you. It really has more to do with them than about you.

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