I was recently listening to Dr. Kelly McGonigal, psychologist-neuroscience-researcher, talk about how the brain changes in her audio-course: “The Neuroscience of Change: A Compassion-Based Program for Personal Transformation.”

A few things struck me as I listened to Dr. McGonigal:

  • Our brains can support or inhibit us to change our thoughts and behaviors.
  • We can learn different techniques to support us during change.
  • When we use negative self-talk, we are “punishing” ourselves, and in doing so, we de-activate the parts of our brain that assist us in changing, AND instead activate a self-inhibiting part of our brain that makes us stop doing anything novel (i.e., first, one stops and freezes because something’s wrong; initially it’s a “pause” to collect oneself , however, eventually it can quickly become a “stuck” feeling, especially for clients who have clinical depression, anxiety, or trauma histories).
  • Self-compassion is the one way we can actively support our brain during the process of change (thoughts, feelings, behaviors) because it keeps us out of self-punitive, negative thoughts, and activates the same parts of our brain that allow us to change.

Dr. McGonigal, like Dr. Brené Brown, refers to Kristin Neff’s self-compassion research as the way to support our brains through change. There are wonderful free guided meditations and exercises to develop self-compassion. Dr. Brown usually refers to self-compassion as the antidote to shame; and of course, shame can prevent change because change requires vulnerability and exposure (the two elements that disappear when we are ashamed).

If you’re interested in changing, focusing on the goals of shame resilience and self-compassion are key.

Let me know if you have questions! I’ll be running two workshops–one for teens and one for adults at the end of March 2018 that will be 6-8 week workshops.