Neuroscience is unveiling secretive brain tricks, but it is also spreading some ideas that cause confusion. For example, Eric Kandel, Nobel Prize in Medicine, has claimed that “the brain builds our sensory experience, our thoughts and emotions, and it controls our actions”.
It is easy to interpret this type of statement in a way that we relegate the human being to a species of a biological robot, without being unable to change itself. The logic says otherwise.
I believe that the associations that are broken in everyday life, based on previous experiences, automatic reactions such as habits, will arise, which sometimes helps and others cause conflicts that need to be resolved.
These automatic reactions have a brain physiological correspondence, but it is a serious error to believe that the brain by itself produces these habits.
Believing that human are biological robots would be like comparing them to the muscles of the hands acting on their own, deciding how to move and what objects to grab without brain activity.
Sometimes it seems that one has no control over thought or emotions, perhaps there is confusion, but in reality, many scientific studies are showing that the structure, and even the size of brain parts, changes according to the use we make of them.
In fact, it is the human being who “programs” and “deprograms” his brain. Most of the times unconsciously, and always in terms of what is best for learning something. It is precisely that learning which conditions the very structure and functioning of the brain.
It is curious that, furthermore, the process through which new things are learned allows us to lead ourselves to happiness, which may serve to end the negative effects of any circumstance that we have to face.
There is no need to blame the brain for unfortunate and crazy things, especially because it is easy to understand the function of the organ that leads to passivity.
People do not have to believe either that the solution to life problems is only disciplinary. In order to be happy, we must resolve the causes of the suffering, and we can understand that by applying what we learn to “deprogram” ourselves as we did before.
An effective way in which a person can change their functioning -for example, a harmful habit- is by learning to manage their “biological computer” with new “algorithms”.
The automatism of thought and emotion is produced by a combination of ideas, ingrained beliefs, and suffering is the result of misconceptions.
Humans have to review some things, concepts, ideas, and find out what’s wrong with them. For example, if someone reacts with anger, you must understand that this anger is sustained by some fears which, in turn, depend on erroneous ideas.
To blot out the wrong ideas it is needed to find the “source code”. It is possible to reflect on the causes of disruptive thoughts and face the emotional part properly. In short, feeling, not thinking.
If you want to stop generating anger, initially you should feel the sensations that it produces in the body, discover where it is, how it sounds, how long it takes you to intervene in your own thinking.
It is necessary to explore them with the objective of not repressing them nor letting them drag you around. The goal is to stop fearing them. This exercise serves to break the automatism in cases of anger.
But, how do you get these automatic reactions that generate suffering? In order to have a serene, intelligent and tendentious mind, there is a need to learn to identify and resolve fears. If someone gets angry when no one listens, for example, it can be a reaction to a feeling of abandonment.
The erroneous idea that could lead to this situation is that if someone does not listen to you is because you are not valued, and thinking like that causes negative consequences.
It is important to understand that the negative consequences will occur if you are afraid, so resolving these fears should become a priority.
A key tool to carry out this process of “deprogramming” is attention. It is not possible to modify automated reactions using only the material that is stored in your memory.
Following the computer simile, the content that is producing an error in the program could not eliminate itself. What is missing is comprehension of what is new, to provide new data that erase this error. But this can only occur if one pays attention to reality without prejudice, without false ideas or erroneous conclusions.
The way to do it is to focus attention, curiously, effortlessly, on how to act, what is thought or what is felt … in a quiet place, or at home watching television or on the street during daily life.
The objective should not be to control or change anything but to realize new things that previously went unnoticed; of oneself and others.