pathways to education

Why changing thought patterns is so hard

(As told to me by my therapist this morning.)

Imagine a baby crying because they have a need.

If someone comes and meets that need, the baby feels better and she learns that she can have an influence on the world around her. A pathway forms in her brain to that effect. But if the baby cries and no one comes, she feels helpless in the world because she starts to learn that she can’t change anything around her. And a pathway forms in her brain about that.

Now many years later she’s grown up and still struggling with a sense of feeling helpless. That’s an example of how struggles can be related to deep beliefs that can have been forming since as early as babyhood. And it’s hard work to change those pathways.

Now imagine a jeep driving every day through a field of long grass. The well-used path is easy to drive along but always gets to the same place. If you want to get to a different place, you have to forge a new path. At first it is very hard going to push through the long grass. If you only do it once, the grass quickly grows back again. But the more often you travel that new path, the easier it becomes. Every time you travel along that path, you are pushing that grass out of the way and making the path a little clearer for the next time, but it takes a lot of repeated travelling over that path while also not taking the other path, before the new path becomes the easiest one to take.

And this is why changing neural pathways takes a long time and a lot of hard work