Did you know that every minute, of every day, you are changing your brain? As you read this now, your brain is changing! Every single thing you do, every choice you make, is affecting your brain…for the better or for the worse. Everything you read, you look at, you spend time on, you eat, is reinforcing a good or bad habit, and is impacting the way your brain is structured and is functioning.
Here is the wonderful news about what I just shared with you. WE CAN CHANGE OUR BRAINS! Because of neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to form new neural connections based on the input we provide it, we have the ability to overcome learning challenges, bad habits, fears, negative self-talk, etc. How amazing is that?!
Now you may be sitting there thinking to yourself, “If that is true — that it’s possible for people to change the structure of their brains, and therefore change the quality of their life — then why don’t more people pursue that?” I think the answer is simple: It’s because changing our brains for the better requires effort. Changing our brains in a positive way requires being honest about the things that need to change, deciding to stop beating ourselves up over the areas where we are weak, and then taking the steps needed to pursue growth.
In my classroom, all of my students struggle with learning challenges, so every day we do brain exercises to strengthen the weak areas of their brains. One of the greatest obstacles that my students face is their inability to allow themselves to fail. And so I constantly remind them, “You cannot learn something new – you cannot strengthen those weak areas of your brain – if you are not willing to be absolutely terrible at it at first. Failure, followed by more effort, is what is changing you for the better! Only doing the things in life that come easy to you is not growing your brain or helping you to become more of the person God created you to be.”
Over the past few years, I have had the blessing of watching my students transform their lives by putting in the hard work it takes to overcome their learning challenges. I don’t mean that they have figured out ways to work around their learning challenges, I mean that they have literally changed the structure of their brains in ways that have diminished the learning disabilities that they once struggled with. I have watched students develop their math, reading, and critical thinking skills in ways that previously seemed impossible. But more important than that, I have watched their self-confidence and love for themselves grow in ways that have changed their entire outlook on life. What an honor it’s been to watch God work in their lives in such a powerful way!
God did not give us these amazing, changing, brains so that we would avoid what is difficult and pretend to be perfect. Not one of us is perfect! We all have areas of our brains that are weak. The question is, will you allow fear of failure or fear of what other people might think, cause you to settle for those weak areas? Will you teach your children to hide their weaknesses, to pretend to be “okay” so that they can fit in with the other kids around them? I would encourage you to own and accept the areas where you need growth, and then put in the effort to allow God to transform and change your brain. He can do it! You can do it! I’ve seen and experienced it firsthand.
Jimelle Carlson is a certified Arrowsmith Cognitive Program teacher, and she has also received certification in both the Advanced Brain Listening and Moyers Learning Ears programs. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Special Education. Jimelle has always felt a calling on her life to work with at-risk students, and she is honored and blessed to be doing this important work at SVC.
Jimelle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information on her blog post topic, she recommends “Your Fantastic Elastic Brain” by JoAnn Deak, “The Woman Who Changed Her Brain” by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, and (on YouTube) Dr. Lara Boyd’s Tedx Talk titled “After Watching This, Your Brain Will Not Be The Same.”
To learn more about SVC’s Foundations Program, please click here.