I have always hated children. I couldn’t stand the tears, the tantrums and all that gooey stuff that comes along. But all of this hatred halted when my own son came along. The next thing I know, I am going gooey over a kid who bears a stark resemblance to an alien being from another planet. I had fallen in love with my child, in love enough to not think twice about cleaning up whatever he brought out from within him. And in love enough to drop just about everything else to prioritize his needs. OK, that is obsession.
Over the years, I have also taken a few other kids into the fold. There is my highly-intelligent niece, and the smart-ass son of my close friend. Then, there are some other kids – friends’ children – that I care about too. I am also writing stories for kids, and working on creating alternative education programs for this lot.
The point that I am trying to get to, is where I am now right now is not where I ever thought I would be.
How did you get to like something that you absolutely hated?
Oxytocin, the love hormone would be the first thing that comes to the mind. Motherhood automatically secretes this chemical post child birth. But a chemical cannot account for the fact that I would be ready and willing to submit myself to cleaning up after someone. I still hate cleaning up stuff that other people leave behind.
So, what gives for the willing change in the habit?
Habits are the domain of the great organ that is the brain. It is this fist-sized entity that develops habits based on a combination of observation, needs, wants and interests. That is how if you find video games interesting, you will automatically look out for one even when you don’t have the money to buy it. Habits are the result of some kind of inner wiring that the brain engineers into place with the help of some math.
Then how did my brain that had been wired to hate kids rewire itself to fall in love with one of them? How did it rewire itself to like some of them? And how did it rewire itself to lead me into dedicating a part of my lifetime to work towards their glory?!
Inner Rewiring – sounds interesting…
It all began with the idea of wanting to have a child. Once the idea fueled by the desire settled deeply into the mind, the brain began to warm up to the thoughts of a child. This means that the more I thought about the kid, the brain’s wiring grew stronger.
During pregnancy, the mother’s thoughts automatically move towards the child growing within her. It is during this phase that her own neural connections about the child grow in strength. And it is this wiring that leads the mother to do gooey stuff for her child.
I am not denying the underlying factor of love beneath it all. But the hard fact that it is the brain that leads us towards doing stuff cannot be overlooked. I could still be in love with my kid and not do anything for him. The act of doing is the brain’s job description.
And we can rewire the brain…
…by simply thinking of all the things that we can do or have to do.
The brain does not know that the teeth needs brushing. It is something that we teach it to do. So a pregnant mother would be telling herself stuff like – I will have to be careful when I am giving the baby a bath, I will have to store up some quick fixes for when the baby falls sick, I will reschedule my tasks to make time for the baby, etc, etc, etc.
Even as we are thinking all this, the brain begins to form images to go with our thoughts. These images are stored in its neural connections about the baby, and these images are retrieved for use during situations. That is how, we jerk into full focus when the baby is being given a bath, or keep checking our inventory for emergency medications.
And that is rewiring for you
The idea of wiring the brain for the baby is just one example. We are constantly rewiring our brain to do things that we want to or have to do.
My close friend who had, for nearly eight years, been fixated with the idea of spending her weekends with family, has over the last two months moved away from this idea. She has been spending her weekends working because she has become aware of the fact that some jobs could be done only on weekends. And sometimes, she finds this a challenge because something comes along the way to move her back towards spending her weekends with family. Well, that is how hard it is change the brain’s wiring to break habits.
I, have been a pathological procrastinator. But the more I watched the world walk by me, the more I wanted join the walk too. Then came the conscious idea that I had to get things done, get shit out of the way, and get off the bloody couch. While the idea had been brewing for a year, it is only now that I have reached the stage where I work more and work harder. Well, that is how long it takes to change the brain’s wiring to form habits.
All of this happened because my friend and I consciously seeded our ideas into our brain. We rewired our brain into leading us towards what we wanted to do.
But what about the previously wired thoughts? Does that wiring die away?
There is still a part of me that hates spending time with kids. I don’t like to talk much with kids I don’t know. And sometimes I find their company the most irritating thing in the universe. That is why I usually don’t host birthday parties for my son if my husband is not available to manage the kids. All this means that the initial wiring is still around and still functional.
When we rewire our brain, it does not mean that the initial wiring dies away. Although it has definitely grown weaker, it is still out there somewhere, sending out sparks from within its depths. Just as it takes a conscious effort to rewire our brain, it also takes an equally conscious effort to keep it that way.
Here’s to enabling your Inner Engineer to Rewire your brain in the right way!