Surprising News About What Happens in Your Brain When You Think About the Future
I just read an interesting article that bucks conventional wisdom when it comes to thinking about future events.
If you read on, you may find it will also help you understand how you perceive a crazy little thing called "reality."
It might also help you with your New Year's resolutions.
Turns out that when you think about the future, you are mostly using the part of the brain that is responsible for memories.
In a study published in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers using high-tech brain imaging demonstrated that neurological memory centers are highly active whenever people envision upcoming events.
"It shows us that memory is just as important to imagining the future as it is to remembering the past," said lead researcher Karl Szpunar, a graduate student in the department of psychology at Washington University, in St. Louis.
Until now, the assumption was that planning and thinking about the future would mainly activate the frontal lobe. However, the fMRI data showed that neurological memory centers were dominant whether participants were recalling the past or imagining their future.
This validates data from amnesiacs, who as we know can't remember the past. What you might not know is that they also can't think about the future. If you don't have access to your memories, you won't be able to construct these novel images of the future.
Now that is what I call being in the NOW!!! (Would you really want that?)
Why am I talking about this in a hypnosis newsletter?
Besides just being really interesting, it is a small demonstration of something much more fundamental.
Your brain constructs your experience from the data at hand. One thing you might not also know is that your memories are also constructed. (You are not like a tape recorder. If you were, then your hard drive would be completely full!)
The research on this is solid. You do not remember things as they were; you remember bits and pieces and construct the rest - it is much more efficient for the brain. (If you want to know more about the research, then reply to this email and I'll explore it further.)
This is why hypnosis is no longer admissible in court for "repressed memories." What the data shows is that a lot of the memories of abuse were clearly created by the subjects.
So to put all of this together: your brain constructs your memories, and then creates how you think about the future with this data. How you remember your past is all affected by your filters, how you feel about the event, etc.
While this might be bad for the forensic hypnosis profession, it is good news for you.
What this means is that you create how you think, feel, remember, daydream, and behave unconsciously. And through hypnosis (the science of the unconscious mind), you can make great progress towards letting go of the constructs that are getting in your way, and creating new constructs that support you.
Don't get me wrong - it is not as simple as "reprogramming yourself." Your brain is far too complex for that. But with the right tools and guidance, you can have more control over how you create your own experience than you probably realize.
It is extremely difficult to do this consciously because you need to be set when dealing with the real world.
It is kind of like driving a car on a busy freeway and thinking about how to drive it at the same time. Remember when you first learned to drive . . . it would have been pretty hard to drink coffee, talk on your cell phone, AND get to your destination safely back then. (It's still not recommended, of course, but we've all been known to do it.)
Taking the analogy further, using hypnosis with a good therapist is like getting driving lessons with a great instructor under controlled conditions. You then take these lessons out to the real world, gauge your improvements, and then go back for another lesson. Eventually, you are able to win at NASCAR!
In a nutshell, your brain is flexible and creates your current and future experience from your memories combined with data in the now.
Because of this, a big key to living the life you want to lead is learning how to have as much control as possible over you how you create your internal reality. This means things like:
- Turning down the extra piece of chocolate cake because you want to.
- Starting projects on time because that is just what you do.
- Confronting difficult emotions in a healthy way because you are prepared to do so.
This will not happen in one session, but with repetition and experimentation it will happen sooner than you think.
Take care and I hope you enjoyed the article. This was still fairly surface level.
If you would like to me go more deeply into how the brain works, and other technical issues, just let me know by replying to this email. If the response is good, I would love to cover it in an upcoming issue.
Co-Founder, The Hypnosis Network