Robert F. Mullen, PhD
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The distinction between social anxiety disorder and social anxiety is a matter of severity; reference to one includes the other. The recovery tools and techniques provided are applicable to most emotional malfunctions including depression, substance abuse, ADHD, PTSD, generalized anxiety, and issues of self-esteem and motivation. These malfunctions originate homogeneously, their trajectories differentiated by environment, experience, and the diversity of human thought and behavior.
“Dr. Mullen is doing impressive work helping the world. He is the pioneer of proactive neuroplasticity utilizing DRNI – deliberate, repetitive, neural information.” – WeVoice (Madrid, Málaga)
The Role of Active Neuroplasticity
We learn through hemispheric synchronization. Both hemispheres of our brain are exploited in recovery workshops. Their collaboration reinforces and strengthens neural restructuring. Hemispheric synchronization is a state of consciousness where both the right and left sides of the brain work together. This accelerates and consolidates our three goals or strategies: to (1) replace or overwhelm our negative thoughts and behaviors with healthy, productive ones (2) produce rapid, neurological stimulation to restructure the polarity of our neural network, and (3) regenerate our self-esteem.
Both proactive and active neuroplasticity are necessary for optimal recovery from emotional malfunction. They are the two processes of what Jeffrey Schwartz coined, self-directed neuroplasticity. Our brain’s right hemisphere is responsible for our emotions, creativity, intuition, and imagination. That is the function of active neuroplasticity. Proactive neuroplasticity attends to the rational, analytical, and quantitative pursuits of the left hemisphere.
Plasticity is the quality of being easily shaped or molded. Neuroplasticity is our brain’s continuous adaptation and restructuring to information. Science recognizes that our neural network is dynamic and malleable – realigning its pathways and rebuilding its circuits in response to all stimuli.
The definition of recovery is regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost. Self-empowerment is making a conscious decision to become stronger and more confident in controlling our lives. In neuroses such as anxiety, depression, and comorbidities, what has been stolen or lost is our emotional well-being and quality of life. In self-empowerment, it is the loss of self-esteem and motivation. So, both recovery and self-empowerment deal with regaining what has been lost. And both are accomplished through neuroplasticity.
Space is Limited
We accelerate and consolidate learning and unlearning by compelling our brains to restructure their neural circuitry. This confirms that our emotional well-being is self-determined. While we are impacted by outside forces over which we have limited to no control – life’s vicissitudes, physical deterioration, subjected hostilities – our psychological health is determined by how we react to things. How we respond to adversity as well as fortune and opportunity. The onus of recovery and self-empowerment rests with us. We control our emotional well-being.
If there is an underlying theme in recovery and self-empowerment, it is that we are not defined by our faults and defects, but by our character strengths, virtues, and attributes, rediscovered and affirmed utilizing a synthesis of targeted scientific and psychological approaches. Mindfulness of this strengthens our self-reliance, reboots our self-esteem, and promotes positive neural repatterning.
Through neuroplasticity, we consciously and deliberately transform our thoughts and behaviors, creating healthy new mindsets, skills, and abilities. Our informed and deliberate engagement provokes change rather than reacting and responding to it. Information alerts a receptor neuron that sends electrical information to a sensory neuron, stimulating presynaptic neurons that forward it to millions of participating neurons, causing a cellular chain reaction in multiple interconnected areas of our brain.
Additionally, deliberate neuroplasticity activates long-term potentiation, which increases the strength of the nerve impulses along the connecting pathways, generating more energy. Additionally, the process creates higher levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factors) –proteins associated with improved cognitive functioning, mental health, and memory.
The neural chain reaction generated by repetition reciprocates, in abundance, the energy of the information. Millions of neurons amplify the electrical activity on a massive scale. Positive information in, positive energy reciprocated in abundance. Conversely, negative information in, negative energy reciprocated in abundance. Thus, the value of positive reinforcement.
The heightened activity of our axon pathways boosts the neurotransmissions of chemical hormones, feeding us GABA for relaxation, dopamine for pleasure and motivation, endorphins to boost our self-esteem, and serotonin for a sense of well-being. Acetylcholine supports neuroplasticity, glutamate enhances our memory, and noradrenalin improves concentration. T date, neuroscientists have discovered over fifty chemical hormones.
Human neuroplasticity happens in three forms. Reactive neuroplasticity is our brain’s natural response to things over which we have limited to no control – stimuli we absorb but do not initiate or focus on. A car alarm, lightning, the smell of baked goods. Our neural network automatically restructures itself to what happens around us.
Active neuroplasticity happens through intentional pursuits like creating, yoga, and journaling. We control active neuroplasticity because we consciously choose the activity. A significant component of active neuroplasticity is our altruistic and compassionate social behavior, e.g., teaching, compassion, and random acts of kindness.
Proactive neuroplasticity is rapid, concentrated, neurological stimulation to change the polarity of our neural network from toxic to positive. This is best consummated by DRNI – the deliberate, repetitive neural input of information.
What is significant is our ability to deliberately accelerate and consolidate learning and unlearning. Over the years our brain structures itself around negative neural input, forming in childhood and increasing exponentially due to our inherent negativity bias and the vicissitudes of life. The primary objective in recovery and self-empowerment is replacing or overwhelming that negative information with positive neural input.
Proactive neuroplasticity is the most effective method of positive neural restructuring. Through the deliberate, repetitive, neural input of information (DRNI), we compel our brains to change their negative polarity to positive. The process has its limitations, however. Restructuring our neural structure achieves one goal of recovery. It is executed by our brain’s left hemisphere – the analytical part responsible for rational thinking. We are still concerned with replacing our negative thoughts and behaviors with healthy, productive ones, and regenerating our self-esteem.
Proactive neuroplasticity attends to the mental and the rational, while active neuroplasticity the emotional, social, and spiritual. What the former lacks in productivity is fulfilled by the latter. They complete each other.
Active neuroplasticity focuses on replacing our self-destructive thoughts and behaviors while simultaneously regenerating our self-esteem. Creating healthy new mindsets, skills, and abilities also requires positive and repetitive neural input. Active neuroplasticity happens through intentional pursuits geared towards counteracting the years of adverse neural input. To transform our thoughts and behaviors we move our focus away from the negative towards a more balanced perspective by rediscovering and utilizing the character strengths, virtues, and attributes disrupted by our emotional malfunction.
We pay attention to our bodies through exercise, dancing, and yoga. We improve our cognitive functions through culture, creativity, and other mental pursuits. Introspection, meditation, and self-compassion enhance our spirit.
The brilliant simplicity of the eightfold path of Abhidharma psychology comes to mind here: right understanding, thought, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration. Equally important are good intention and logical choice.
Beyond the synthetic and creative products of active neuroplasticity is our ethical and compassionate social behavior. Contributions to others and society are extraordinary assets to neural restructuring. The value of volunteering – providing support, empathy, and concern for those in need – is extraordinary, not only in promoting positive behavioral change but in our neural restructuring. The social interconnectedness established by caring interconnectivity augments the regeneration of our self-esteem and self-appreciation.
Both proactive and active neuroplasticity assist in the positive transformation of our thoughts and behaviors. Their collaboration reinforces and strengthens neural restructuring. Proactive neuroplasticity (rational, analytical, and quantitative, DRNI) is self-oriented; active neuroplasticity (emotional, creative, intuitive, qualitative) is both self- and other-oriented. Their activities collaborate as do our two hemispheres and the left and right sides of our physical structure.
Gestalt psychology considers the human mind and behavior as a whole. Radical behaviorism not only considers observable behaviors but also the diversity of human thought and experience. That calls for a collaboration of science, philosophy, and psychology. Philosophy, existentially defined, welcomes religious and spiritual insight. Neuroscience is supported by proactive neuroplasticity and psychology by active neuroplasticity. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Self-esteem is mindfulness of our qualities and character as well as our defects. It is how we think about ourselves, how we think others think about us, and how we process that information. Healthy self-esteem tells us we are of value, consequential, and desirable. The inherent byproduct of healthy self-esteem is self-appreciation. It is self-esteem paid forward. The consolidation of our self-regard and the recognition of what we have to offer drives us to share it with others. Self-appreciation is the natural evolution of self-esteem.
Proactive and active neuroplasticity are necessary formidable tools for neural restructuring, the regeneration of our self-esteem and appreciation, and the corresponding positive transformation of our thoughts and behaviors.
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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT? ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional malfunction and (2) pursue personal goals and objectives – harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. 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 regenerate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.