Monthly Archives: January 2022

Constructing Our Neural Information

DRNI—the deliberate, repetitive, neural input of information expedites proactive neuroplasticityThe most constructive information is calculated and specific to our intention. Are we challenging the core and intermediate negative beliefs that condition our behavior and motivation? Are we focused on a specific challenge? Are we embracing our character strengths and virtues that support recovery and transformation? What is our end goal – the personal milestone we seek to achieve? Intention and content determine the integrity of information and its correlation to the durability and learning efficacy of the neural response.


Intention: How are we expediting our objective? What is our constructive plan of attack? If our goal is to become better educated, what are we going to study, and what sources of information do we utilize? How are we going to challenge misinformation? If we are challenging our ANTs, which character strength do we emphasize, and which deficits do we challenge?

Content: What are the actual words that construct our neural information—the statement that addresses the intention of our goal? What is the best mode of delivery that will cause the receptor neuron to spark and engage the full range of positive neural responses? 


Intention: Emphasize our assets; challenge our deficits. ContentI am trustworthyI am regaining my confidence.

Intention. To stop smoking. Content: I have the disciplineI will stop smoking

Let us focus on one of the most misunderstood and underappreciated techniques utilized for the intention-driven content of the information at the core of DRNI. 

Positive Personal Affirmations (PPAs)

We underestimate the significance and effectiveness of positive personal affirmations because we do not comprehend or value the science behind them. PPAs are an astoundingly effective means of positive self-modification. PPAs are sensible reflections of our aspirations—brief, subjective statements that challenge our defeatist self-beliefs by emphasizing our character strengths, abilities, and accomplishments. Productive PPAs are rational, reasonable, possible, unconditional, goal-focused, brief, and first-person present time. 

Rational: Our objective is to subvert the irrationality of our negative self-beliefs. It is illogical to cause ourselves harm. Irrationality is self-destructive because it subverts the truth.

Reasonable: Of sound judgment; sensible. I will publish my first novel is an unreasonable expectation if we choose to remain illiterate.

Possible: If our goals are impossible, our efforts are counter-productive and futile. I will win a Grammy is not a viable option for the tone-deaf.

Unconditional: Placing limitations on our commitment by using words like maybe, might, and perhaps is our unconscious avoidance of accountability. Saying I might do something essentially means we may or may not do something depending upon our mood or disposition. How comfortable are we when someone says, I might consider paying you for your work?

Goal-focused: If we do not know our destination, our path will be unfocused and meandering.

First-person, present time: The past is immutable, the future indeterminate. Our actions can only happen in the present. 

Brevity: Direct and easily memorized.

Diligently repeating positive personal affirmations accelerates and consolidates learning and unlearning. It increases activity in the self-processing systems of the cortex, which counteracts years of negative neural input. It decreases the fear and anxiety hormones of cortisol and adrenaline while transmitting pleasurable chemicals and hormones that generate the incentive to endure the tedious, repetitive input of information.  

The reciprocating energy from repetitive PPAs is abundant due to the amplified neural response. Positive energy in, positive energy multiplied millions of times, positive energy reciprocated in abundance. Each neural input of information can impact millions of neurons as they restructure our neural network to a form conducive to a positive self-image. 

Many psychologists recommend delivering PPAs in front of a mirror. Our reflection is a distraction, however, which devalues the integrity of the process. We can deliver our PPAs while showering, cooking, or walking. Inputting our PPAs before sleep is an excellent option.

Examples of Positive Personal Affirmations:

  • I am successful
  • I am confident
  • I deserve to be loved
  • I am powerful
  • I am a good person
  • I am motivated
  • I am unique
  • All I need is within me
  • I am strong
  • I am focused and determined
  • I am not defined by my past
  • I am in charge of my life
  • I have the power to change
  • I determine my future

Affirmative Visualization

There are multiple psychological approaches to Visualization. Covert Conditioning focuses on eliminating a bad habit by imaginary repetition of the behavior, e.g., smoking or shoplifting. Covert Sensitization and Covert Extinction encourage repeated confrontation of our fears and apprehensions. In Covert Modeling, we choose a positive role model to visually emulate (like what we might incorporate into our Persona).

Both PPAs and visualization meet the Laws of Learning criteria that describe what conditions must be present for learning (or unlearning) to occur.

The brain is in a constant mode of learning; it never stops realigning to information. It forms a million new connections for each input. Information includes experience, muscle movement, a decision, a memory, emotion, reaction, noise, tactile impressions, a twitch. With each input, connections strengthen and weaken, neurons atrophy/others are born, learning replaces unlearning, energy dissipates and expands, and functions shift from one region to another. Proactively stimulating our brain with deliberate, repetitive neural information via PPAs and Affirmative Visualization accelerates and consolidates learning (and unlearning), producing a correlated change in thought, behavior, and perspective. These changes become habitual and spontaneous over time.  

< Proactive Neuroplasticity YouTube Series >

Our brain creates the same neural restructuring when we visualize doing something or when we verbalize it; we stimulate the same regions of the brain. Just as our neural network does not distinguish between rational and toxic information, it also does not distinguish whether we are physically experiencing something or imagining it. 

The thalamus is the small structure within the brain located just above the brain stem between the cerebral cortex and the midbrain and has extensive nerve connections to both. All information passes through the thalamus and is relayed to other parts of the brain. By visualizing an idea or performance repeatedly for an extended period, we increase activity in the thalamus and our brain begins to respond as though the idea was a real object or actually happening.

The thalamus makes no distinction between inner and outer realities. It does not distinguish whether we are imagining something or experiencing it. Thus, any idea, if contemplated long enough, will take on a semblance of reality. If we visualize a possible solution to a problem, the problem is more easily resolved because it specifically activates cognitive circuits involved with working memory.

We can visualize mitigating our anxiety and performing better, or we can envision being a more empathetic person. In either case, our neural repatterning will help us achieve those goals. The more we visualize with a clear intent the more focused we become and the higher the probability of achieving our goal. We activate our dopaminergic-reward system, decreasing the anxiety and fear-provoking hormones while transmitting those that make learning more accessible. In addition, when we visualize, our brain generates alpha waves which, neuroscientists have discovered, also reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

Mindfulness (comprehension and acceptance)

Accepting scientific validity to the enormous benefits of PPAs makes it easier to endure the tedious, calculated regimen of deliberate, repetitive, neural information. The process is simple in theory but challenging due to the commitment and endurance required for the long-term process. We do not put on tennis shorts and advance to Wimbledon without decades of practice with racket and balls; philharmonics cater to pianists who have spent time at the keyboard. We can possess all the required tools, but they need to come out of the shed. Not only is DRNI repetitious and tedious, but it also fails to deliver immediate tangible results, causing us to readily concede defeat and abandon hope in this era of instant gratification. PPAs are one of the most effective means of replacing or overcoming the years of negative self-beliefs expressed in our ANTs. They dramatically accelerate and consolidate learning (and unlearning). If the science is not clear or we doubt the evidence, we must resolve these concerns; proactive neuroplasticity is the foundation of our recovery and our pursuit of goals and objectives. 

Recommendation. Create three viable (rational, reasonable, possible, unconditional, goal-focused, brief, and first-person present time). Repeat them aloud five times, a minimum of three times daily (or any variation that achieves the same results). This process consumes less than three minutes of our time; the positive impact on our neural network is immeasurable. Visualize sparking the fuse that propels the firework’s shell into the night sky where it explodes in a dazzling and powerful array of colors and lights, enhanced by the whistles, bangs, and staccato pops of celebration. Thus our neural receptor sparks the electrical transmission through its neural pathway, engaging millions upon millions of participating neurons in a positive cellular chain reaction.

The Power of the Word

We all carry an abundance of justifiable reasons for our anxiety to commit, among them physiological aversion, negative self-image, and the prejudice of our peers. We express this reticence in our automatic negative thoughts (ANTs). There are categories of words that impede recovery and the pursuit of goals and objectives. Pressure, conditional, and negative absolute words are unconscious evidence of our resistance to commitment and accountability.

Pressure words like should and would equivocate our commitment. I should start my diet essentially means maybe I will and maybe I won’t. It allows us to change our minds, procrastinate, and fail. It unbinds us to action. We are either on a diet or will be on a diet. The pressure comes from the guilt of having done nothing (I should’ve done that). 

I shouldn’t drink at the office party. I will not drink at the office party. 

Negative Absolute Words. The adverse impact of won’t, can’t, and never is obvious. Our objective in recovery or self-development is to replace our ingrained ANTs with positive, affirming, productive ones. Hate is an extremely destructive sentiment. (I hate doing the dishes.) Do we really, or do we just dislike doing the dishes? Hate is an emotion; dislike is a feeling. Feelings quickly dissipate while emotions metastasize within us.

I won’t enjoy that lecture. I will learn from that lecture. (Which one offers the probability we will attend?)

Conditional words such as possibly, maybe, might add ambiguity to our commitment. We either did it, are doing it, or will do it. Qualifying or conditional words are pre-justifications for our failures. (I might have won if only … )

I might begin my diet tomorrow. I will start my diet tomorrow.

Pressure Words

  • should, should’ve
  • would, would’ve
  • must
  • have to, got to
  • ought to

Negative Absolutes

  • won’t
  • can’t
  • never
  • impossible
  • every time

Conditional Words

  • possiby
  • maybe
  • could, might
  • perhaps
  • sometime

These words are self-fulfilling prophecies of our inaction. It is important to become mindful of our emotional dependency on these self-destructive words and eliminate them from our thoughts and vocabulary. 

WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT ESSENTIAL? ReChanneling is dedicated to researching methods to (1) alleviate symptoms of disorder and discomfort (neuroses) that impact our emotional wellbeing and quality of life, (2) pursue our personal goals and objectives—eliminating bad habits; self-transformation. Our paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to reinvigorate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.

The Value of Psychobiography

Abstractions of Intent: How a Psychobiography Grapples with the Fluidity of Truth
Broadening the Parameters of the Psychobiography: The Character Motivations of the ‘Ordinary’ Extraordinary

Robert F. Mullen, Ph.D.

Just published: “Broadening the Parameters of the Psychobiography: The Character Motivations of the ‘Ordinary’ Extraordinary”  in C-H Mayer, P. J. P. Fouché, R. Van Niekerk (eds.) Psychobiographical Illustrations on Meaning and Identity in Sociocultural Contexts from Palgrave MacMillan.

The Psychobiography

A psychobiography is a biographical study focusing on psychological factors, such as childhood disturbances and unconscious motives. It studies the character strengths, virtues, and attributes that generate the motivation, persistence, and perseverance to pursue our goals and objectives and attain optimum functioning. The psychobiography utilizes an integration of psychodynamic or psychoanalytic approaches including individual history, case study, data collection, hermeneutics, and narrative. Originally directed towards historically significant individuals, it is now used to research methods to (1) alleviate symptoms of dysfunction (disorder) and discomfort (neurosis) that impact an individual’s emotional wellbeing and quality of life, (2) pursue personal goals and objectives—eliminating a bad habit, self-transformation—harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. 

Other Publications

Enlisting Positive Psychologies to Challenge Love within SAD’s Culture of Maladaptive Self-Beliefs in C.-E. Mayer, E. Vanderheiden (eds.) International Handbook of Love: Transcultural and Transdisciplinary Perspectives. Insight into the relationship deficits experienced by people with SAD. Their innate need-for-intimacy is no less dynamic than that of any individual, but their impairment disrupts the ability (means-of-acquisition) to establish affectional bonds in almost any capacity. Now available from Amazon and other fine booksellers. The prepublication draft can be accessed here.

The Art of Authenticity: Constantin Stanislavski and Merleau-PontyJournal of Literature and Art Studies, 6 (7):790-803 (2016). doi:10.17265/2159-5836/2016.07.010. 

Utilizing Stanislavski’s method for authentic stage acting to address our volatile emotions to deconstruct and better understand and control them. 

Establishing a Wellness Model for LGBTQ+ Persons with Anxiety and Depression., doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.17550.38728

The wellness model’s emphasis on character strengths, virtues, and attributes not only positively impacts the self-beliefs and image of a mentally ill person but resonates in sexual and gender-based identities and portends well, the recovery-remission of an LGBTQ+ person.

Holy Stigmata, Anorexia, and Self-Mutilation: Parallels in Pain and Imagining. Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, 9:25, 2010.   

Addresses the types of personalities that engage in self-mutilation and how some manipulate their self-inflicted pain for healing and empowerment.

Additional Publications

(2020) A Wellness Model of Recovery-Remission from Mental Illness in the 21st Century., doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.13413.22244

(2018) Debunking the Origins of Morality; the Individual’s Commitment to Humanity,

(2018) Aurobindo’s Supermind, Teilhard’s Omega Point & Plato’s Doctrine of Recollection,

(2014) Evolutionary Panentheism and Metanormal Human Capacity.  California Institute of Integral Studies, 2014, 355; 3680241.

(2012) Aristotle and the Natural Slave: The Athenian Relationship with India, Mithras Reader Vol III: An Academic and Religious Journal of Greek, Roman and Persian Studies.

WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT ESSENTIAL? ReChanneling is dedicated to researching methods to (1) alleviate symptoms of dysfunction (disorder) and discomfort (neurosis) that impact an individual’s emotional wellbeing and quality of life, (2) pursue our personal goals and objectives—eliminating a bad habit, self-transformation. Its paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to reinvigorate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.

Challenging Our Self-Destructive Thoughts

To fully comprehend the most effective means of challenging our self-destructive thoughts we need to set a couple of definitions. 

Situation is the set of circumstances ̶ the facts, conditions, and incidents affecting us at a particular time in a particular place. For social anxiety disorder, Situations are the places that generate discomforting anxiety or stress such that it impacts our emotional wellbeing and quality of life. Examples range from restaurants and the classroom to job interviews and social events.

Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs)

ANTs are the involuntary, anxiety-provoking emotions or images that occur in anticipation of or reaction to the Situation. They are unpleasant expressions of our fears and apprehensions – manifestations of our irrational self-beliefs about who we are and how we relate to others, the world, and the future. (I am incompetent; No one will talk to me; I’ll say or do something stupid; I’ll be rejected.)They are our predetermined assumptions of what will happen in a Situation. 

ANTs are the expressions of our dysfunctional assumptions and distorted beliefs about a Situation that we accept as true. For example, the Situational automatic negative thought ( I am ugly and fat and no one will like me ) might result from the core belief ( I am undesirable ), and intermediate belief ( I am unattractive ). This negative self-appraisal can elicit an endless feedback loop of hopelessness, worthlessness, and undesirability, leading to substance abuse, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. 

ANTs are cognitively distorted and supported by maladaptive behaviors. 


Cognitive distortions are exaggerated or irrational thought patterns involved in the onset or perpetuation of anxiety and depression. They are thoughts that cause us to perceive reality inaccurately. We all engage in cognitive distortions and are usually unaware of doing so. Cognitive distortions reinforce or justify our negative thinking and behaviors. We convince ourselves these false and inaccurate thoughts and reactions are the truth of any situation. 

Cognitive distortions define the ANT. I am ugly and fat and no one will like me is a distorted and irrational statement. It is Jumping to Conclusionsassuming that we know what another person is feeling and thinking, and why they act the way they do. There is also Emotional Reasoning, Labeling/Mislabeling, and Personalization distorting the statement. Cognitive distortions tend to blend and overlap much like the symptoms and characteristics of most dysfunctions. 

Maladaptive behaviors mean we adapt to Situations badly or wrongly. In psychology, experts present two forms of behavior – adaptive and maladaptive. Adaptive behavior is behavior that is positive and functional. Maladaptive behaviors are dysfunctional behaviors uniquely characteristic of social anxiety disorder. They distort our perception and we ‘adapt’ negatively (maladapt) to a positive Situation. To analogize, if the room is sunny and welcoming, SAD tells us it is dark and unapproving. 

More About ANTs

Prevalent in social anxiety disorder, ANTs are irrational, perceptual, and self-destructive. To challenge them, we need to interrogate them to understand their structure. Why do we have these self-destructive thoughts and where did they come from? Without a clear inventory of the causes and consequences of our negative thoughts and behaviors, we do not have a chance of defeating them.

They originate with our Core Beliefs.

Core Beliefs

Core beliefs are determined by our childhood physiology, heredity, environment, information input, experience, learning, and relationships.

Negative core beliefs are generated by any childhood disturbance that interferes with our optimal physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development. Cumulative evidence that a toxic childhood is a primary causal factor in lifetime emotional instability has been well-established. Any number of things can generate a negative core belief. Our parents are controlling or do not provide emotional validation. We are subjected to bullying or a broken home. The disturbance can be real or imagined, intentional or accidental, A toddler whose quality time with a parent is interrupted by a phone call can feel a sense of abandonment, which can generate core beliefs of unworthiness or insignificance. This is important when it comes to attributing blame or accountability for our social anxiety disorder because of the possibility no one is responsible; certainly not the child. 

Social anxiety disorder senses our vulnerability and onsets at adolescence. A combination of genetic and environmental factors drive social anxiety disorder. Researchers recently discovered a specific serotonin transporter gene called “SLC6A4” that is strongly correlated with susceptibility to the disorder, but we are still not clear why some of us are impacted and not others. 


Core beliefs remain as our belief system throughout life. They mold the unquestioned underlying themes that govern our perceptions. Even if a core belief is irrational or inaccurate, it still defines how we see the world. When we decline to question our core beliefs, we act upon them as though they are real and true.

Core beliefs are more rigid and exclusive in individuals with social anxiety because we tend to store information consistent with negative beliefs and ignore evidence that contradicts them. Social anxiety disorder generates a cognitive bias—a subconscious error in thinking that leads us to misinterpret information, impacting the rationality and accuracy of our perspectives and decisions. 

Negative core beliefs fall within two categories: self-oriented (I am unlovable, I am stupid) and other-oriented (You are unlovable, you are stupid). Individuals with self-oriented negative core beliefs view themselves in one of four ways: 

  • Helpless (I am weak, I am incompetent)
  • Hopeless (nothing can be done about it)
  • Unlovable (no one will Ike me)
  • Worthless (I don’t deserve to be happy).

These beliefs can lead to fears of intimacy and commitment, an inability to trust, debilitating anxiety, codependence, aggression, feelings of insecurity, isolation, a lack of control over life, and a resistance to new experiences.

People with other-oriented negative core beliefs view people as demeaning, dismissive, malicious, and manipulative. We tend to blame others for our condition, avoiding personal accountability (I can’t trust anyone). This generates serious anxiety towards Situations we perceive as potentially dangerous, causing us to avoid them in anticipation of harm.

So, we accumulate negative core beliefs due to childhood disturbance and other early-life experiences. They heavily influence our intermediate beliefs which are developing our adolescence. These beliefs are negatively aggravated by the onset of social anxiety disorder, which generates our negative self-beliefs and image, which generate our fears and anxieties of a Situation, which generate our automatic negative thoughts (ANTs). A corresponding intermediate confirmation of the core belief,  I am undesirable might be,  I am unattractive and fat. A corresponding intermediate resolution might be, If I diet and have my nose fixed, I will be desirable

Intermediate Beliefs

Intermediate beliefs are the go-between our core beliefs and our automatic negative thoughts and image. Despite similar core beliefs, we have different intermediate beliefs because they are developed by our social, cultural, and environmental experiences – the same things that make up our personality.

Intermediate beliefs establish our attitudes, rules, and assumptions. Attitude refers to our emotions, beliefs, and behaviors. Rules are the principles or regulations that influence our behaviors. Our assumptions are what we believe to be true or real which, in social anxiety disorder, are irrational and cognitively distorted. Dysfunctional assumptions caused by our negative intermediate beliefs, and consequential to our negative core beliefs, generate our ANTs (automatic negative thoughts). Even when we know our fears and apprehensions are irrational, their emotional impact is so great, that our dysfunctional assumptions run roughshod over any healthy, rational response. 

How do we challenge our self-destructive thoughts?

Challenging and moderating our self-destructive thoughts is a process of revelation, evaluation, and implementation. ReChanneling has established Nine Steps to Moderate our Fear(s) of a Situation:

  1. Identify the Feared Situation
  2. Identify the Associated Fear(s)
  3. Unmask the Corresponding ANT(s)
  4. Examine and Analyze Our Fear(s) and Corresponding ANT(s)
  5. Generate Rational Responses
  6. Reconstruct Our Thought Patterns
  7. Create a Plan to Challenge Our Feared Situation(s).
  8. Practice the Plan in Non-Threatening Simulated Situations (including Affirmative Visualization)
  9. Expose Ourselves to the Feared Situation(s)

Identify the Feared Situation(s). Where are we when we feel anxious or fearful and what activities are involved (what are we thinking, what might we be doing)? Who and what do we avoid because of these insecure feelings? 

Identify the Associated Fear(s). One way to identify our anxiety is to ask ourselves the following: What is problematic for me in the Situation? How do I feel (physically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually)? What is my specific concern or worry? What is the worst thing that could happen to me? What do I imagine might happen to me?

Unmask the Corresponding ANT(s). Determine how we express our anxiety? What are our involuntary emotional expressions or images?

Examine and Analyze Our Fear(s) and Corresponding ANT(s). Examine and analyze the origins and trajectory of self-beliefs underlying our fears and anxieties while rationally addressing their veracity.

Generate Rational Responses. Recognize and accept the cognitive distortions and irrationality of our fears and ANTs and create rational responses.

Reconstruct Our Thought Patterns. Through proactive neuroplasticity and supporting psychological approaches, restructure our neural network by changing our thought patterns.

Create a Plan to Challenge Our Feared Situation(s), Utilizing the appropriate tools and techniques to challenge our fears and ANTs, develop a comprehensive plan to challenge the feared Situation.

Practice the Plan in Non-Threatening Simulated Situations. Strengthen our rational responses by repeatedly implementing the Plan in practiced exercises including role-play and other workshop interactivities. Practice Affirmative Visualization.

Expose Ourselves to the Feared Situation. This should only transpire after a suitable period of graded exposure to facilitate the reconstruction of our neural network and a familiarity with the prescribed tools and techniques.

Converting ANTs to ARTs 

The process of proactive neuroplasticity is theoretically simple but challenging, due to the commitment and endurance required for the long-term, repetitive process. We do not put on tennis shorts and advance to Wimbledon without decades of practice with racket and balls; philharmonics cater to pianists who have spent years at the keyboard. Neural restructuring requires a calculated regimen of deliberate, repetitive, neural information that is not only tedious but also fails to deliver immediate tangible results, causing us to readily concede defeat and abandon hope in this era of instant gratification. However, once we initiate the process begin the process utilizing the tools and techniques provided by a comprehensive recovery program, progress is exponential.

WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT ESSENTIAL? ReChanneling is dedicated to researching methods to (1) alleviate symptoms of disorder and discomfort (neuroses) that impact our emotional wellbeing and quality of life, (2) pursue our personal goals and objectives—eliminating a bad habit, self-transformation. Our paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to reinvigorate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.