A single footstep will not make a path on the earth. So a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we need to think over and voer the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lifes. Thoreau
Imagine a clock with two pendulums. These arching arms are swinging on opposite orbits; one moving to the left as its partner sways toward the right. This perhaps difficult image and metaphor may represent the evolution of an individual’s (or an entire society’s) thinking over the span of a lifetime for that person (or for a culture or people over a century, or even a millennia).
For example, Sigmund Freud, over 100 hundred years ago, moved belief about the source of human behavior in a polar opposite direction. Prior to the development of his theories into human behavior as being the result of early childhood experiences, both positive and negative, “pre-Freudian thought” largely accounted for traits in one’s character and personality as being inherited. Earlier man didn’t understand the complexity of DNA, but whole societies trusted that the next king, emperor, or ruler should be of “royal blood.” Royal families and Eastern dynasties were perpetuated based upon this principle and assumption.
The belief of pre 1900s that behavior flowed from inherited physiology was replaced by psychological theories, which were based upon environmental influences. How we were treated by our parents was deemed more predictive of our future conduct than the genetic legacy they bestowed.
The behavioral pendulums had passed and crossed each other. By the latter stages of the 20th Century, environment was “in” and heredity was “out.” But, as the old saying goes, “ What goes around comes around” and those swinging arms are heading back again.
In the field of psychology, current theory and thought is re-examining the origins of our behavior. Neuropsychology, using advanced brain-mapping technology that couldn’t even be imagined a few decades ago, is plumbing the root of our conduct. Physiology is making a comeback!
OK, but so what? Well, so a lot. Please engage in this simple exercise: Take your right index finger and stroke the top of your left hand, using your finger nail. Use enough pressure to feel the fingernail. After one stroke, what do you see? Probably nothing. Now do the same thing ten times. Ten fingernail strokes. Many of us are likely to see the beginning of a mark. Now imagine doing the same thing 100 or 1000 times. (but don’t do it! I don’t want any bleeding as a result of this exercise!) We can recognize the potential for real damage to our hand.
Think of every stroke on your hand as a thought or perhaps verbally expressed belief. One thought or one statement has little impact, but several repeated thoughts or statements can make an impression. (Notice how the word “impression” can connote both physiological and psychological impact). Current psychological theory appears to give weight and credence to both physiology and psychology.
Brain scan activity and research supports the concept that our thoughts do literally “carve on our brain” in the same manner that fingernails can carve in the back of one’s hand. We forge new neural pathways with our thought patterns. While “hand carving” is likely only to create problems, “brain carving” can produce either positive or negative outcomes, depending on the thoughts or expressed beliefs that we choose to entertain.
We truly can change our lives by changing our thinking, both physiologically and psychologically. Our two pendulums appear to be moving toward each other: toward the center. In the future, we will be exploring the role that this principle may play in how we can improve the quality of our lives and in our relationships.
Remember: ” Thoughts are power. Thoughts are energy. You can make your world or break your world by your own thinking.” – S. Taylor
“Stress does not come from what’s going on in your life. It comes from your thoughts about what’s going on in your life.” A. Bernstein