How do you CHANGE your PATTERNS? Recognize patterns and the BRAIN SCIENCE of emotions | episode 01
How do you change yourself?
People ask us that a lot.
They find themselves knowing what it is that they want to do differently, but getting stuck
And I want to share a little neuroscience with you and help you understand how your
brain works and this is going to give you the key in how to respond.
In the six seconds model of emotional intelligence one of the core competencies is what we call
Patterns are a system of how your brain is operating.
It's almost like a routine that's been programmed in, like in software you might write a little
piece of code that says you know “do this thing.”
Your brain has these patterns that it uses over and over and over again.
The reason we have patterns is because our brains are craving efficiency.
Our brains are constantly starved for energy, so in order to have more energy, one of the
things that our brains do is automate certain processes.
And we get into these little autopilot techniques that makes it more efficient for us.
We're able to go through our day and do this on autopilot and do that on autopilot, follow
this pattern and follow that pattern, and we don't have to think so much.
And because we don't have to think so much we are able to go faster and it's easier for
So what are patterns?
Think about how a stream forms.
You imagine it rains and water starts trickling down a little bit and it maybe makes a little
pathway on the hill.
The next time it rains the water finds that pathway and carves it a little deeper.
The next time a little deeper and the next time a little deeper.
Pretty soon you have the Grand Canyon.
As we form these patterns, almost the same thing is happening in our brains.
I'll explain the neuroscience.
To understand the neurobiology of these patterns, which is going to give you a tool for changing
them, it's important to learn a little bit about how your brain works.
There is a brain cell.
This is the cell body, these are what are called dendrites, and this is the axon, the
long communication trunk of the cell.
And we're going to need another one.
BING! and now we have two brain cells.
And these dendrites are actually moving all the time.
I mean they move very rapidly.
It takes about a ten thousandth of a second for one dendrite to move and reconnect.
So this little gap here between the two dendrites—we can get it until you almost see it, we can
get it until you almost see it—that little tiny gap is called a synapse.
And you have tens of billions of synapses in your brain.
And that's where the action happens and essentially when you have one network of these cells another
network of these cells in the dendrite area moves and reconnects-BING!-you have this connection
between this neural network in this neural network.
You just learned something.
Just like that water rivulet going down the hill and turning into a stream, you are learning
and deepening and it's becoming easier and more efficient for this to be associated with
this or these neurons that fire together, because when neurons fire together if they
Not only are the dendrites moving, but actually at the tip of every one of these dendrites
where they're connecting, there's a little set of receptor sites kind of like blocks.
This little place where these chemicals are stored and these chemicals are released and
they go through that little tiny synapse and get absorbed from the other one, on the receptor
sites and we have to have locks that match the keys.
The more that you put a particular neurohormone on a cell, the more receptor sites will grow.
So not only are you creating more efficiency by having more and more of these interconnections
with dendrites moving, but at a cellular level every one of these brain cells is becoming
more and more efficient based on how you are using it.
That means if you practice a lot of regret and doubt and self-recrimination, your brain
gets really good at that.
If you practice a lot of joy and wonder and hope, your brain gets really good at that.
We're wiring into our brains this efficiency in order to follow these patterns to make
it easy for our brains to say, “You don't have to think about this, I got it I'll take
care of it.”
Our brains just want to make everything easy for us so we can go fast and be efficient
and we don't have to think too much.
There's a problem with that: getting off autopilot.
Thing is that our brains don't really care if we follow this pattern in a way that's
Remember our brains are just looking for efficiency.
So it's kind of like when you're driving down the road and you're listening to the GPS on
your phone, and it's “turn left on Smith Street” and you just kind of turn the wheel
and you're not really paying attention.
I remember this one time one of my kids and I were in the middle of a desert.
Where in a little town, we had stopped for breakfast.
And we're leaving the town in the GPS said turn left on Smith Street and I started to
turn left and there's no street there.
The sand had blown over the street.
This is what's happening to all of us, we're in a world that's changing, but we're following
the patterns that we had before.
Our brains have created this tremendous efficiency to do what we used to do and now we're saying
I want to do something different.
So the first step for us to get off autopilot is to notice that we're on it.
So the trick is to tune in and start to notice our own recurring reactions and we have these
If we tune in and start looking at our thoughts and our feelings and our actions, our feelings
interact with our thinking or feelings interact with our actions and we start to notice and
say “Ah, I've been there before, I recognize this.”
When you start to see these recurring reactions, you're recognizing your patterns and that
is going to be the first step to changing.