I write these blogs to teach you ‘stuff’ that will be helpful for you, both in terms of losing weight, AND so you can learn how your brain works and understand that you’re able to change things if you have not got what you want in your life. After all, your brain is constantly changing with or without your input, and as you have to live with the outcome of that processing, you really should get involved. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is when you learn not to put it in a fruit salad!
But there’s no point learning stuff if you don’t really ‘KNOW’ it. If you learn it but can’t or don’t ever apply it, then it’s not really learning in the useful sense, it’s just surface information.
It doesn’t influence you in any meaningful way if you don’t apply what you know. When you apply what you learn, it becomes wisdom. Wisdom is based on experiential learning and is much more permanent.
Let me tell you how you grow healthy bones – bear with me, it really is relevant to how your brain works – I promise!
As you know, every cell in your body is constantly being replaced and renewed. Billions of minute structures are being reformed (from what you eat) every minute, but especially when you sleep, which is a naturally restorative state. Like a mini hibernation every night. Bone cells look a bit like a chocolate bar filled with bubbles (Aero) or a sponge with many holes. This seemingly random looking pattern is in fact a very well-designed structure that generates maximum strength with minimum weight. People often say ‘I am heavy boned’ but there’s no such thing as a heavy bone, they are all incredibly light; that’s what allows us to move. It’s the muscle and the fat attached to the bone that weighs us down – or not!
Bone cells are made mostly of calcium, and in the same ways Bee’s build their hives, you have little ‘builder cells’ inside your bones called osteoblasts, who come along and construct the new cells. However, you also have a bone demolition team (called osteoclasts) and they come around every night just like bin men collecting unwanted rubbish, and clear away old or decaying bone to make way for the new cells. These 2 teams work together to create and maintain healthy bones that support you and allow you to move.
You have a similar system inside your brain. Every day you create new neurological maps based on what you have experienced that day. At night your neurological bin men clear away anything they feel is not worth keeping. That means if you ‘learn’ something one day but don’t attach any real meaning or emotion to it, it is likely to be taken out with the rest of the rubbish and forgotten the next day.
Passive learning with no emotional involvement doesn’t change long term brain structure. If you genuinely want to change how you think and feel you have to flag your new neurological maps as important so that the brain bin men not only leave them there but strengthen them.
When I want to save an important email on my laptop I mark it with a flag. I even have red or pink flags to clarify just how important it is! If you want to mark something as important in your brain, so that it becomes knowledge and wisdom, then there are several ways to do it:
- Attach a strong emotional response to it: when you do this your brain bin men mark it as important and it stays in place. This is why it is essential when you are doing any visualisation exercise that you generate and attach a strong feeling with the information or memory. Often we do this automatically. This can be a good thing but sometimes a bad thing, as this is how phobias can be created.
If you are genuinely terrified by a barking dog chasing you down the street, your brain might decide it’s REALLY important to remember this experience so that you avoid dogs at all costs. It marks this event with a huge red flag to show this information is soooooo important, and just to make doubly sure, it puts you into a fight or flight mode every time you see a dog just to make sure you have remembered. It won’t even allow you to have a logical or rational approach, you just go straight into anxiety based on the strength of the neurological map. Luckily most of the time we can remember things without becoming phobic.
- Teach it: when you teach what you learn it changes your paradigm, that means you change how you process it and how you see it. Instead of just being ‘information’ it becomes part of how you view yourself and your ability to share knowledge. This in itself makes you feel more capable and gives you neurological leverage. If it’s important enough information to share, then it’s seen as important enough to keep. When you teach someone something by default you have to be competent at processing and explaining, or physically doing whatever it is you are teaching.
As you know from my previous blogs, online courses and workshops, you are always listening to what you say. When you hear yourself explain something to someone else you are also re-minding yourself of what this information actually means. You couldn’t learn to drive or play a piano by reading a book, you could have an understanding of the theory, but you wouldn’t actually create the neurological pathways necessary to build a map to actually carry out the tasks.
Many years ago, when I used to train personal trainers, I always shied away from teaching the anatomy and physiology as I didn’t feel confident in my ability to remember all the muscles and their origins and insertions. I used to pay someone to come in and teach that part for me. One day she called in sick at the last minute and it threw me into a bit of a panic. I knew I would have to teach it so I came up with a cunning plan. I bribed my then young son with the promise of a reward of his choosing and took him and his face paints to the college. I proceeded to stand him on a chair and literally paint each muscle as I explained where it was and what it did. I found a way of teaching it that gave me confidence in my own ability to remember it, and it was such a success I taught it that way in every course I ran. It wasn’t that I didn’t know it, it was that I couldn’t easily recall it, until I had to teach it. Once I had done that – boom!
- Just Do It: I have divide my time between UK and Spain (when possible!) and am always learning new Spanish phrases and sentences, however I can only remember the ones I actually use, because they are marked as important in my neurological hierarchy. It’s a bit like when I open my laptop, its easiest to access ‘most recent files’ rather than have to search all of my documents to find what I want. Repetition will strengthen a neurological map.
So, the message is….first decide what you want to learn or change (because you can’t hit a target you’re not aiming at!) and then once you have the information, take responsibility for turning it from information or knowledge, to wisdom. Then it becomes life changing.
Here’s quick video emphasising how to retain what’s important to you:
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