Category Archives: Anxiety

Constructing Our Neural Information

Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble.Yehuda Berg

Proactive neuroplasticity is expedited by DRNI—the deliberate, repetitive, neural input of informationThe 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? Context, intention, and content determine the integrity of information and its correlation to the durability and learning efficacy of the neural response.

Context is the circumstances that form the setting for a situation and our relationship to it that generate our automatic negative thought(s). In terms of social anxiety disorder, what specifically about a situation generates our fear of criticism, ridicule, rejection, etc. Understanding the context of a situation is important to effectively challenge our ANTs. Context in the pursuit of a goal and objective are the motivations and impediments to achieving that goal.

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, 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, which deficits do we challenge?

Content: What are the actual words that construct our neural information—the statement that addresses the context and 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? 

Examples:

Context: Fear of an upcoming speaking engagement.  Intention: Emphasize our assets; challenge our deficits. ContentI am trustworthyI am regaining my confidence.

Context: My smoking is going to cause cancer. Intention. To stop smoking. Content: I have the disciplineI will stop smoking

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

Positive Personal Affirmations (PPAs)

Most of us drastically underestimate the significance and effectiveness of positive personal affirmations because we don’t 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 to 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, circumstance, ability, and so on. How confident are we when someone says, I might consider paying you for your work?

Goal-focused: If we don’t 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: PPAs should be simple, unconditional, forthright statements that are readily memorized. An effective DRNI program recommends verbalizing three consecutive PPA’s, repeated throughout the day. These are modified as we progress in our quest.

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. PPAs can be executed 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, i.e., smoking, 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).

The most effective PPA is visualized as we verbalize it. When we intone the statement, I am powerful, it is helpful to imagine the situation (context) where this is applicable. PPAs can be silent in situations that prevent verbalization such as the classroom or silent retreat. The distinction between verbalization and visualization is the power of sound. However, each method impacts our neural receptors, initiating the positive chain reaction.

Both PPAs and visualization are supported by the Laws of Learning, which explain what conditions must be present for learning (or unlearning) to occur and how to accelerate and consolidate the process through proactive neuroplasticity.  

The brain is in a constant mode of learning; it never stops realigning to new 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, chemicals and hormones are transmitted, 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.  

Our brain creates the same neural restructuring when we visualize doing something or when we verbalize it; the same regions of the brain are stimulated. Just as our neural network doesn’t distinguish between rational and toxic information, it also doesn’t 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 as it 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 actual 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. Our dopaminergic-reward system is activated, decreasing the anxiety and fear-provoking hormones that relax us, and providing 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 some 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 isn’t 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 PPAs following the guidelines (rational, reasonable, possible, unconditional, goal-focused, brief, and first-person present time). Repeat them out loud 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. As we deliver each PPA, we visualize sparking the fuse that propels the fireworks shell into the sky where it explodes in a dazzling and powerful array of colors and lights, enhanced by the whistles, bangs, and staccato pops of joy and 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, never, etc. 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 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 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. Its paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and historically, clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral therapy, positive psychology, and techniques designed to compel the recovery and reinvigoration of self-esteem disrupted by the adolescent onset of dysfunction. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.

Updates and Happenings at ReChanneling

by Matty Savenkow.

This is a reposting from my personal website MattySaven.

As I continue to work on the last three hours of the recovery workshop I’m reviewing, I want to update you on what’s been happening with me and ReChanneling in the last couple of months. Academia.edu is currently offering two ReChanneling courses: Neuroscience and Happiness: A Guide to Neuroplasticity and Positive Behavioral Change and Social Anxiety in the LGBTQ+ Community. I designed the multiple slides for each 90-minute, four-installment course.

You must be a member of Academia.edu to attend these courses, but the organization provides a 50% membership discount when you enroll.

A Canadian mental health website published Proactive Neuroplasticity and Positive Behavioral Change, which we have reposted to the ReChanneling website and there are several new posts as well: 

… and, of course, everything on the ReChanneling website is constantly updated as the program continues to evolve and flourish.

Currently, I am working on the graphics for a series of upcoming YouTube tutorials on the science and utilization of Proactive Neuroplasticity and DRNI – the deliberate, repetitive neural input of information. The tutorials will be uploaded, weekly, beginning the latter part of this month. 

Meanwhile, ReChanneling has created two new discussion groups: ReChanneling: Recovery and Empowerment and Social Anxiety and Proactive Neuroplasticity.

Finally, Palgrave MacMillan published Dr. Mullen’s latest work, Broadening the Parameters of the Psychobiography. The Extraordinariness of the ‘Ordinary’ Extraordinary (pp. 285-301) in C.-E. Mayer, P. Fouche, R. van Niekerk (eds.) Psychobiographical Illustrations on Meaning and Identity in Sociocultural Contexts. 

You can access his other publications in the Value of Psychobiography.

The Trajectory of Self-Defeat

ANTs, ARTs, and Dysfunctional Assumptions

Robert F. Mullen, Ph.D.

Automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) are anxiety-provoking, involuntary thoughts that occur in anticipation of and response to specific situations. They are manifestations of irrational self-beliefs about who we are and how we relate to others, the world, and the future. Often amplified by anxiety and depression, ANTs not only impact our emotional wellbeing and quality of life but impede our pursuit of goals and objectives, due to the negative core and intermediate self-beliefs that cultivate them. ANT’s generally lead to irrational or maladaptive behaviors. Proactive Neuroplasticity overcomes or replaces our ANTs with ARTs (automatic rational thoughts.

The trajectory of our ANT’s begins at the evolution of our core beliefs.

Origins of Our Core Beliefs

Our core beliefs are determined by childhood physiological and experiential factors–our sex, health, and hereditary constitutions coupled with our information input: experience, environment, learning, familial, and so on. In rare instances, core beliefs can develop later in life during stressful or traumatic periods.

Negative core beliefs are generated by childhood neglect or exploitation–generic terms used to describe a broad spectrum of offenses that interfere with the optimal physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development of the child. In his seminal hierarchy of needs, Abraham Maslow defines factors that correlate to our core beliefs. The earliest are the physiological needs of food, water, warmth, and rest, followed by personal security and health, and the opportunity to experience love and a sense of belonging.

The cumulative evidence this lacuna of developmental needs is the primary causal factor in lifetime emotional instability has been well-established. A sense of detachment, exploitation, and or abandonment fosters negative core beliefs that impact our self-esteem which harbors our positive self-properties: self -esteem, -compassion, -love, -regard, -respect, -value.

Core Beliefs

Core beliefs remain as our belief system throughout life unless they are challenged and replaced with new and compelling information. Modifying or evolving core beliefs is challenging; new ideas and concepts are often contrary to our core beliefs which are engrained in the way we interpret reality. We consider them to be ultimate truths and tend to refute information that disputes them.

Any number of things can generate a negative core belief. Perhaps parents are controlling or do not provide emotional validation. Maybe we are subjected to bullying or a broken home. It is tenable no one is intentionally responsible. A child whose parental quality time is disrupted by a phone call can sense abandonment which can generate a core belief of unworthiness or insignificance. Even if a core belief is irrational or inaccurate, it still defines how we see the world. Harmful core beliefs can easily lead to self-destructive thoughts and behaviors.

Core beliefs are more rigid and exclusive in individuals onset with dysfunction because we tend to store information consistent with negative beliefs and ignore evidence that contradicts them. Most dysfunctions generate a cognitive bias—a subconscious error in thinking that leads us to misinterpret information, impacting the rationality and accuracy of our perspectives and decisions. Simply put, core beliefs are the unquestioned underlying themes that govern our perceptions. Because we decline to question our core beliefs, we act upon them as though they are real and true.

Positive core beliefs are healthy, rational appraisals of self, others, and the world at large. Negative core beliefs fall into two primary categories: self-oriented (I am unlovable) or other-oriented  (you are untrustworthy ).

Negative Core Beliefs: Self-Oriented.

Interpersonal: In pioneering methods widely used to address depression and anxiety, Aaron Beck identified three categories of negative interpersonal core beliefs: helplessness, unlovability (undesirability), and worthlessness. The helplessness category includes beliefs associated with personal incompetence, vulnerability, and inferiority  I am weak). The main thrust of undesirability is the belief or fear that we are incapable of obtaining desired intimacy and attention (No one will ever love me). The worthlessness category is a self-devaluing that causes us to feel useless and insignificant (I don’t deserve to be happy). These negative self-beliefs can result in an inability to trust, and fears of intimacy and commitment. Also, debilitating anxiety, codependence, aggression, feelings of insecurity, isolation, the lack of control over life, and a resistance to new experiences. 

Achievement: A negative achievement core belief challenges our pursuit of personal goals and objectives. A core belief we are incompetent or stupid (I’m a loser) poses a severe emotional hurdle that can dramatically impede accepting new ideas and concepts necessary for modification and achievement. When we experience automatic negative thoughts like I’m stupid or I’ll make a fool of myself when about to give a presentation or enter a conversation, anxiety and fear can overwhelm us, dominating how we respond to the situation.

Helplessness

  • I am fragile.
  • I am a loser
  • I am incompetent.

Undesirability

  • No one liikes me.
  • I will always be alone.
  • I am unattractive.

Worthlessness

  • I am insignificant.
  • I am useless.
  • I can’t do anything right.

Negative Core Beliefs: Other-Oriented

People with negative core beliefs about others often view people as demeaning, dismissive, malicious, and manipulative. We tend to blame others for our condition, avoiding personal responsibility (I can’t trust anyone). This can generate serious anxiety towards situations we perceive as potentially dangerous and cause us to avoid others in anticipation of harm (common symptoms of social anxiety).

Intermediate Beliefs 

Core beliefs generate our intermediate beliefs, which are related to our attitudes, rules, and assumptions. Considering the overlapping and ambiguous definitions of the three, we find that attitude refers to our emotions, beliefs, and behaviors toward a particular situation. Rules are the current principles or regulations we adhere to or adopt to guide our thoughts and subsequently influence our behaviors. Combining them, we create the assumption that something is factual or actual. 

An intermediate belief is more specific than a core belief; it is confirmation of it and or a hypothesis of resolution. 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.

Dysfunctional assumptions caused by our negative intermediate beliefs, and consequential to our negative core beliefs, generate our ANTs (automatic negative thoughts).

ANTs

Automatic thoughts are images or emotional reactions that occur in response to a particular situation. They are involuntary rather than the result of deliberation. Usually, we are unaware they are happening because we’ve become accustomed to them. Automatic thoughts are constant and effortless, directly impacting our mood, emotions, and behaviors. 

Automatic negative thoughts (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) is a consequence of our core belief (I am undesirable), and our intermediate belief (I am unattractive and fat). This negative self-appraisal can elicit an endless feedback loop of hopelessness, worthlessness, and undesirability, leading to substance abuse, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem. 

Maladaptive Self-Beliefs.

Defined as peculiar to social anxiety, maladaptive self-beliefs are essentially synonymous with ANTs and cognitive distortions. We find ourselves in a supportive and approving environment, but our social anxiety tells us we are the subject of ridicule, dislike, and disparagement. Our dysfunction distorts our perception and we ‘adapt’ negatively (maladapt) to a positive situation. To analogize, if the room is sunny and welcoming, our maladaptive self-belief informs us it is dark and unapproving. Even when we know our fears and apprehensions are irrational, their emotional impact is so great, our dysfunctional assumptions run roughshod over any healthy, rational response. 

Cognitive Distortions see list

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 you know what another person is feeling and thinking, and exactly why they act the way they do. There is also some Emotional Reasoning, Labeling/Mislabeling, and Personalization supporting the statement. Cognitive distortions tend to blend and overlap much like the symptoms and characteristics of most dysfunctions.

Cognitive distortions are psychologically defined as exaggerated or irrational thought patterns involved in the onset or perpetuation of psychopathological states. We all engage in cognitive distortions and are generally unaware of doing so. Cognitive distortions are thoughts that cause us to perceive or present reality inaccurately. They reinforce or justify our negative thinking and behaviors. We convince ourselves these false and inaccurate thoughts and reactions are the truth of a situation. Often defined synonymously with ANTs, not all ANTs are cognitive distortions.

  1. Origin of Core Belief: A sense of abandonment.
  2. Core Belief: I am undesirable.
  3. Intermediate Belief (Confirmation): I am unattractive and fat.
  4. Intermediate Belief (Resolution): If I diet and have my nose fixed, I will be desirable.
  5. ANT (automatic negative thought): I am ugly and fat and no one will like me.
  6. Cognitive Distortion: Jumping to Conclusions.

Let’s look at some of the ways our dysfunctional assumptions compel us to cognitively distort our response to a situation.

Our coworker, who has the same responsibilities as we do, is promoted to supervisor. We have been with the firm longer. We become angry and resentful—a common response to this situation. It’s also a cognitive distortion called Fallacy of Fairness (the unrealistic assumption that life should be fair). Things don’t always work in our favor even when they should.

Let’s revise that scenario. We are the employee getting the promotion. Our coworkers stop by our desk to congratulate us except for two. We devalue the good wishes of our associates and obsess on the rebellious, deeming them personae non grata. Notwithstanding the multiple causes of our thought processes, we are practicing Filtering (selectively magnifying the negative details while filtering out the positive aspects of a situation).

We sense our new relationship is going poorly. We feel our partner is overly critical and doesn’t take us seriously enough. We decide to break up the relationship in anticipation of being dumped. There are a number of cognitive distortions compelling our behavior. We might be Jumping to Conclusions (forming an opinion assuming we know what another person is feeling and thinking).  Or, perhaps this situation has occurred before; then our cognitive distortion might be Overgeneralization (if something bad happens once, we anticipate it will happen over and over again). We might be Catastrophizing (blowing the situation out of proportion, imagining the worst).

It is helpful to be aware of these distortions because they drive us to analyze the underlying causes of our behavior. It’s also crucial to know the symptoms of our dysfunction and how they impact us. Multiple characteristics of social anxiety disorder, for example, can cause us to act self-destructively.

Let’s consider a hypothetical scenario. As a toddler at the playground, we became aware of the sudden disappearance of our mother, triggering an attack of abandonment. Notwithstanding the fact our mother was briefly hidden from view, talking to a neighbor, our reaction generated core beliefs of unworthiness and a distrust of others which evolved into similar intermediate beliefs. Now we find ourselves projecting an ANT that devalues us and our hopes of intimacy. (I’m not worth anyone’s attention). Imagine that flashing through your mind just as you are about to enter a room.

Sun Tsu’s adage has been repeated ad nauseum, but its underlying message is ever relevant. If you know the enemy (your dysfunctional assumptions and cognitive distortions) and yourself (the underlying cause or motivators of your behaviors), you need not fear the result of a hundred battles).

Converting ANTs to ARTs (Automatic Rational Thoughts)

Replacing or overcoming ANTs with ARTs is a simple process, albeit challenging due to our dysfunctional self-beliefs, our natural aversion to change, and the commitment and endurance required for the long-term, repetitive process of proactive neuroplasticity. The first objective is learning to identify our automatic negative thoughts, their sources, and corresponding cognitive distortion. Social anxiety coerces incredibly strong negative feelings about our competence, worthiness, and desirability. In order to make a change, we need to recognize these irrational beliefs, challenge them, and replace them with our existing strengths, virtues, and attributes.

In groups and workshops, we initiate the process of proactive neuroplasticity through the deliberate, repetitive, neural input of information (DRNI) utilizing cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychologies, and approaches that facilitate the recovery and reinvigoration of our self-esteem. 

Cognitive Distortions

1.  Filtering. Selectively choosing your facts. A person engaging in filtering takes the negative details and magnifies those details while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation. For instance, a person may pick out a single, unpleasant detail and dwell on it exclusively so that their vision of reality becomes darkened or distorted. When a cognitive filter is applied, the person sees only the negative and ignores anything positive.

2.  Polarized Thinking. It’s either this or that; no compromise. In polarized thinking, things are either black-or-white—all or nothing. There’s no middle ground. We have to be perfect or we’re a complete and abject failure. A person with polarized thinking places people or situations in either/or categories, with no shades of gray or allowing for the complexity of most people and most situations. A person with black-and-white thinking sees things only in extremes.

3.  Overgeneralization. This happened; therefore, it happens all the time. In this cognitive distortion, a person comes to a general conclusion based on a single incident or a single piece of evidence. If something bad happens just once, they expect it to happen over and over again. A person may see a single, unpleasant event as part of a never-ending pattern of defeat. For instance, if a student gets a poor grade on one paper in one semester, they conclude they are a horrible student and should quit school. She ignored me; everyone in the room will ignore me.

4.  Control Fallacies. Blaming yourself or another for things over which you have no control. (1) Blaming yourself for things beyond your control; (2) blaming another for things beyond their control. (1) Mary’s car is rear-ended by an inattentive driver, but she blames herself for leaving the house later than planned. (2) John blamed his wife for getting cancer. Both aspects can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and distress. These feelings can cause you to think negative thoughts about yourself, leading to more distress and negative thought patterns.

5.  Fallacy of Fairness. The unrealistic assumption that life should be fair. In the fallacy of fairness, a person feels resentful because they think that they know what is fair, but other people won’t agree with them. Because life isn’t fair, things do not always work in our favor even when they should. There is always a perceived unfairness when something goes someone else’s way and not ours. Fairness, however, is subjective. When something goes against our perceptions of fairness, it can manifest in anger, hopelessness, a sense of rejection, and more. It’s not fair I have social anxiety disorder.

6.  Always Being Right. I’m right and you’re wrong. When a person engages in this distortion, they are continually trying to convince others that their own opinions are the absolute correct ones. To a person engaging in always being right, being wrong is unthinkable — and they will go to great lengths to support their statements, irrational or otherwise. Being right is more important than the truth or the feelings of others. Being right supersedes everything, even logic. This is especially prevalent in social anxiety because, deep down, our dysfunction tells us we’re incompetent or stupid, and we go to irrational lengths to prove otherwise. I don’t care what you say; I know I’m right. I read it on the internet.

7.  Shouldas. Pseudo commitmentsShould statements (I should do this, and I should’ve done that). When self-applied, it appears as guilt; when directed towards another, it’s blaming or shaming, often accompanied by anger, frustration, and resentment. A person employing conditional statements like should, shouldn’t, must, and oughta usually end up feeling guilty when they accomplish nothing. I really should exercise, and I must start my diet are escape substitutes for I am exercising, and I will start my diet. 

8.  Blaming. External blaming is when a person holds other people responsible for their emotional pain. Internal blaming is taking responsibility for problems over which they have no control.  For example, ‘Stop making me feel bad about myself!’  Nobody can make us feel any particular way — only we have control over our emotional reactions.

9.  Jumping to Conclusions. An opinion unsupported by fact. Jumping to Conclusions is forming an opinion without having the facts to substantiate it. A person who jumps to conclusions assumes they know what another person is feeling and thinking — and exactly why they act the way they do. SAD persons, in particular, assume people are judging or ridiculing them, or making negative evaluations as if they can read their minds. 

10.  Catastrophizing. The sky is falling, the sky is fallingWhen a person engages in catastrophizing, they expect disaster to strike, no matter what. This is also referred to as magnifying, and can also come out in its opposite behavior, minimizing. In this distortion, a person hears about a problem and blows it out of proportion, imagining the worst. For example, a person might exaggerate the gravity of an insignificant event (such as their mistake, or someone else’s achievement). Or they may minimize their noteworthy achievements. 

11.  Personalization. It’s gotta be my fault. Personalization is when a person believes that everything others do or say is some kind of direct, personal reaction to them. They take everything personally, even when something is not meant in that way. A person who experiences this kind of thinking will also compare themselves to others, trying to determine who is smarter, better looking, etc. A person engaging in personalization may take personal responsibility for things over which they have little to no control. ‘My friend is in a bad mood; what did I do wrong?’ 

12.  Emotional Reasoning. My gut tells me that … Relying on gut feelings over objective evidence to judge yourself and the world. Especially harmful to someone with social anxiety disorder because our dysfunction has generated an irrational perspective and negative self-image.  I feel like I don’t know how to be a friend; therefore, I must be a bad friend. 

13.  Labeling/mislabeling. I’m stupid, she’s lazy. We define ourselves and others with negative labels. In assigning labels, you focus on one past behavior or event. Your co-worker is lazy because they came to work late. You’re stupid because you failed the math test.

Dr. Mullen is director of ReChanneling Inc, 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 personal goals and objectives—eliminating a bad habit, self-transformation—harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living.

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 personal goals and objectives—eliminating a bad habit, self-transformation—harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Its paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and historically, clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral therapy, positive psychology, and techniques designed to compel the recovery and reinvigoration of self-esteem disrupted by the adolescent onset of dysfunction. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.

Proactive Neuroplasticity and Positive Behavioral Change

This is a general overview of Dr. Mullen’s 90-minute Academa.edu course titled Neuroscience and Happiness. Neuroplasticity and Positive Behavioral Change and a reprint of a guest post for an Ontario, Canada mental health website.

Neuroplasticity is evidence of our brain’s constant adaptation to learning. Scientists refer to the process as structural remodeling of the brain. It’s what makes learning and registering new experiences possible. All information notifies our neural network to realign, generating a correlated change in behavior and perspective. 

What is significant is our ability to dramatically accelerate learning by consciously compelling our brain to repattern its neural circuitry. Deliberate, repetitive, neural information (DRNI) empowers us to proactively transform our thoughts and behaviors, creating healthy new mindsets, skills, and abilities. 

Reactive neuroplasticity is our brain’s natural adaption to information. Information includes thought, behavior, experience, sensation, etc. Active neuroplasticity is achieved through cognitive pursuits such as engaging in social interaction, teaching, aerobics, and creating. Proactive neuroplasticity is the most effective means of learning and unlearning because the calculated regimen of deliberate, repetitive input of information accelerates and consolidates restructuring. 

Neurons, the core components of our brain and central nervous system, convey information through electrical activity. The input of information causes a receptor neuron to fire. Each firing stimulates a presynaptic or sensory neuron that, depending upon the integrity of the information, forwards it via an axon or connecting pathway to a synapse. The signal is picked up by the postsynaptic neuron’s hairlike dendrites that forward the information to the nucleus of the cell body. Continuous electrical energy impulses engage millions of participating neurons, causing a cellular chain reaction in multiple interconnected areas of our brain.  

A Brief History

The science of neuroplasticity was identified in the 1960s from research into the rejuvenation of brain functioning after a massive stroke. Before that, researchers believed that neurogenesis, or the creation of new neurons, ceased shortly after birth. Our brain’s physical structure was assumed to be permanent by early childhood. 

Today, we recognize that our neural pathways are not fixed but dynamic and malleable. The human brain retains the capacity to continually reorganize pathways, and create new connections and neurons to expedite learning.

Neurons don’t act by themselves but through neural circuits that strengthen or weaken their connections based on electrical activity. The deliberate, repetitious, input of information impels neurons to fire repeatedly, causing them to wire together. The more repetitions, the more robust the new connection. This is called Hebbian Learning. DRNI is the most effective way to promote and retain learning and unlearning. 

Hebbian Learning 

Synaptic connections consolidate when two or more neurons are activated contiguously. Neural circuits are like muscles, the more repetitions, the more durable the connection. Hebb’s rule of neuroplasticity states, neurons that fire together wire together. When multiple neurons wire together, they create more receptor and sensory neurons. Repeated firing strengthens and solidifies the pathways between neurons. The activity of the axon pathway is heightened, causing the synapses to accelerate neurotransmissions of motivating chemicals and hormones.

We not only prompt our neural network to restructure by deliberately inputting information, but through repetition, we cause circuits to strengthen and realign, speeding up the process of learning and unlearning. 

What happens when multiple neurons wire together? Every input of information, intentional or otherwise, causes a receptor neuron to fire. Each time a neuron fires, it reshapes and strengthens the axon connection and the neural bond. The more repetitions, the more neurons are impacted, creating multiple connections between receptor, sensory, and relay neurons, attracting other neurons. An increase in learning efficacy arises from the sensory neuron’s repeated and persistent stimulation of the postsynaptic cell. Postsynaptic neurons multiply, amplifying the positive or negative energy of the information. The activity of the axon pathway is heightened, urging the synapses to increase and accelerate the release of chemicals and hormones that generate the commitment, persistence, and perseverance useful to recovery or the pursuit of personal goals and objectives.

The consequence of DRNI over a long period is obvious. Multiple firings substantially accelerate and consolidate learning. In addition, DRNI activates long-term potentiation, which increases the strength of the nerve impulses along the connecting pathways, generating more energy. Deliberate, repetitive, neural information generates higher levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factors) proteins associated with improved cognitive functioning, mental health, and memory. 

We know how challenging it is to change, to remove ourselves from hostile environments, to break habits that interfere with our optimum functioning. We’re physiologically hard-wired to resist anything that jeopardizes our status quo. Our brain’s inertia senses and repels changes, and our basal ganglia resist any modification in behavior patterns. DRNI empowers us to assume accountability for our emotional wellbeing and quality of life by proactively controlling the input of information.

Reciprocity

Neural restructuring doesn’t happen overnight. Recovery-remission is a year or more in recovery utilizing appropriate tools and techniques. Meeting personal goals and objectives takes persistence, perseverance, and patience. Substance abuse programs recommend nurturing a plant or tropical fish during the first year before contemplating a personal relationship. The successful pursuit of any ambition varies by individual and is subject to multiple factors. However, once we begin the process of DRNI, progress is exponential. Our brain reciprocates our efforts in abundance because every viable input of information engages millions of neurons with their own energy transmission. 

DRNI plays a crucial role in reciprocity. The chain reaction generated by a single neural receptor involves millions of neurons that amplify energy on a massive scale. The reciprocating energy from DRNI is vastly more abundant because of the repeated firing by the neuron receptor. Positive energy in, positive energy multiplied millions of times, positive energy reciprocated in abundance. 

Conversely, negative energy in, negative energy multiplied millions of times, negative energy reciprocated in abundance. 

Our brain doesn’t think; it is an organic reciprocator that provides the means for us to think. Its function is the maintenance of our heartbeat, nervous system, blood flow, etc. It tells us when to breathe, stimulates thirst, and controls our weight and digestion.

Because our brain doesn’t distinguish healthy from toxic information, the natural neurotransmission of pleasurable and motivational hormones happens whether we feed it self-destructive or constructive information. That’s one of the reasons breaking a habit, keeping to a resolution, or recovering is challenging. The power of DRNI is that a regimen of positive, repetitive input can compensate for decades of irrational, self-destructive thoughts and behaviors, and provide the mental and emotional wherewithal to effectively pursue our personal goals and objectives. 

Utilization

Dysfunction and discomfort are conditions that can result in functional impairment and impact our quality of life. The difference is in severity. A dysfunction is a diagnosable condition that psychiatrists label a mental illness or disorder. Discomfort does not rise to the level of diagnosability but is holistically disruptive, nonetheless.

Personal goals and objectives are those things we want to change about ourselves: eliminating a bad habit or behavior, improving life satisfaction, revitalizing self-esteem, transformation. The benefits of DRNI cannot be underestimated. The deliberate, repetitive, neural input of information significantly improves the probability of recovery. Likewise, it empowers us to pursue those personal goals and objectives that make our lives more viable and productive. 

Consequence

Since our brain does not differentiate healthy from toxic information, it automatically responds to the energy of information, transmitting chemicals and hormones to reward it. We receive neurotransmissions of GABA for relaxation, dopamine for pleasure and motivation, endorphins for euphoria, and serotonin for a sense of wellbeing. Acetylcholine supports our positivity, glutamate enhances our memory, and noradrenalin improves concentration. In addition, information impacts the fear and anxiety-provoking hormones, cortisol and adrenaline. When we input negative information, our brain naturally releases neurotransmitters that support that negativity. 

Conversely, every time we provide positive information, our brain releases chemicals and hormones that make us feel viable and productive, subverting the negative energy channeled by the things that impede our potential. 

Constructing the Information

Deliberate neural information is differentiated by context, content, and intention, which determine the integrity of the information and its correlation to durability and learning efficacy. The most effective information is calculated and specific to our intention. Are we challenging the negative thoughts and behaviors of our dysfunction? Are we reaffirming the character strengths and virtues that support recovery and transformation? Are we focused on a specific challenge? What is our end goal – the personal milestone we want to achieve? 

The process is theoretically simple but challenging, due to the commitment and endurance required for the long-term, repetitive process. We don’t don 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. DRNI 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. To quote Noble Prize-winning author, André Gide “There are many things that seem impossible only so long as one does not attempt them.”

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 personal goals and objectives—eliminating a bad habit, self-transformation—harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Its paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and historically, clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral therapy, positive psychology, and techniques designed to compel the recovery and reinvigoration of self-esteem disrupted by the adolescent onset of dysfunction. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.

Social Anxiety and Proactive Neuroplasticity

Social Anxiety and Proactive Neuroplasticity is a no-fee membership group that focuses on utilizing the tools and techniques of proactive neuroplasticity to dramatically alleviate the symptoms and traits of social anxiety.

All-day, every day, we experience fear, depression, loneliness, and emotional pain. Anxious about how others perceive us, we feel incompetent, awkward, and undesirable. We worry about criticism, disapproval, and rejection; never ‘fitting in.’ We’re apprehensive to enter a conversation, afraid we’ll have nothing to talk about and will appear dull or ignorant. We are caught up in an interconnected network of fear and avoidance of social situations. 

The group evolved from a 640-member group that focuses on social anxiety disorder in the LGBTQ+ community. It is an extension of Dr. Mullen’s course offered by Academia.edu called Neuroscience and Happiness. Neuroplasticity and Positive Behavioral ChangeYears of research, writing, and facilitating recovery groups and workshops that address dysfunction and discomfort evidenced that proactive neuroplasticity is the most effective means to accelerate and consolidate learning (and unlearning). A primary objective of recovery from social anxiety is replacing our irrational and self-destructive thoughts and behaviors with rational and productive ones. 

Proactive neuroplasticity empowers us to transform our thoughts, behaviors, and perspectives, creating healthy new mindsets, skills, and abilities. It can dramatically mitigate the self-destructive symptoms and traits of social anxiety. Utilizing the tools and techniques developed for DRNI (deliberate, repetitive, neural information), proactive neuroplasticity accelerates and consolidates learning and unlearning which directly correlates to recovery.

Proactive neuroplasticity deliberately compels our brain to repattern its neural circuitry. It’s what makes learning and registering new experiences possible. All information notifies our brain to restructure, producing a correlated change in behavior and perspective. What is significant is our ability to dramatically accelerate learning by deliberately compelling our brain to repattern its neural circuitry.

Utilizing an integration of science and east-west psychologies, DRNI is the most potent and effective means of learning as we structurally remodel our neural network. Science gives us proactive neuroplasticity, CBT and positive psychologies are western-oriented, and eastern practice provides the therapeutic aspects of Abhidharma psychology and self-analysis, and the overarching truths of ethical behavior.

This is a discussion group for individuals who want to learn the tools and techniques that facilitate proactive neuroplasticity to alleviate social anxiety and its common comorbidities. We will be a national, diverse membership, sharing experiences and insight through workshops, activities, discussion groups, virtual conference calls, etc.

Link to join

Or, if you would like additional information before joining, please fill out the following.

Anatomy of an Online Recovery Workshop

IStock/FatCamera

Personal • Group • Corporate     Seminars • Workshops • Groups

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 personal goals and objectives—eliminating a bad habit, self-transformation—harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Its paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and historically, clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral therapy, positive psychology, and techniques designed to compel the recovery and reinvigoration of self-esteem disrupted by the adolescent onset of dysfunction.  

The suspension of on-site workshops due to pandemic restrictions compelled ReChanneling to focus on online recovery groups, broadening its outreach from local to national participation. Our social anxiety group, for example, includes persons from SF, Vancouver, NYC, Riverside, Taos, Tracy, Los Angeles, Houston, and so on. Although we will be reinstituting on-site workshops next year, we will continue our online recovery work with persons nationally. 

ReChanneling’s focus on recovery from anxiety and depression has expanded to the comorbidities that factor into dysfunctions. In one anxiety Recovery Group, these included major depression, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, and substance abuse. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America and other expert organizations report multiple dysfunctions related to social anxiety including major depression, panic disorder, alcohol abuse, PTSD, avoidant personality disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders, schizophrenia, ADHD, and agoraphobia. Well over 60% of individuals with anxiety also have depression are both are commonly associated with substance abuse. They can all be treated by the same paradigmatic approach that fosters self-reliance, determination, and perseverance. This overview focuses on social anxiety and, by design, its multiple comorbidities.

The symptomatic similarities impacting disorders and neuroses are established by cause and origin. Cumulative evidence that a toxic childhood leads to psychological complications has been well-established, as has the recognition of early exploitation as a primary causal factor in lifetime emotional instability. It has been determined that the onset of dysfunction happens in adolescence or earlier as a consequence of childhood physical, emotional, or sexual disturbance. This causes a disruption in natural human development negatively impacting the satisfaction of self-esteem. In those cases of later onset of some PTSD and clinical narcissism, the susceptibility originates in childhood. 

The Online Recovery Group.

Logistics. Lecture halls can accommodate hundreds of people; a workshop, perhaps 15. A targeted Recovery Group is most effective with a maximum of 10 on-site participants, and six or fewer online 

Composition. Constructing the human component of a Recovery Group is akin to assembling a jury. Compatibility of diagnoses is important. Individuals with anxiety and depression function well together; combining narcissistic personality with social anxiety disorder might be unwise. Sex, race, education, region, and sexual orientation do not factor in as much as political, philosophical, and religious leanings; tolerance and compatibility are essential. Adolescents function best in their own environment. The severity of diagnosis, determined by a series of evaluation forms, is rarely a factor in neuroses; psychoses require medical intervention. The final determination of compatibility within a Recovery Group can be assessed during the initial group interaction.

A healthy composition of shared experiences produces a supportive, collegial atmosphere where individuals are comfortable delving into issues and activities that might otherwise be emotionally or culturally prohibitive. 

Confidentiality. Roughly two-thirds of persons with diagnosable disorders do not disclose or seek recovery due to several justifiable attributions – public opinion, media misrepresentation, visibility, stigma, etc. The symptoms and traits of dysfunction generate a reticence to self-revelation. Three levels of confidentiality are established to address this: (1) information shared within the group says within the group, (2) personal information revealed in written exercise is addressed individually, and (3) some personal information important to self-evaluation can remain with the individual; the objective is personal revelation. 

Proactive neuroplasticity is the act of deliberately inputting information into our neural network. What is that information? What goes into manufacturing that information? The objective is to ensure the information is of the highest quality in order to effect change. How do we expedite this? What are the best tools and techniques? First of all, there is no one right way to recover or achieve a personal goal or objective. So also, what helps us at one time in our life may not help us at another.

It is myopic and, frankly arrogant of recovery programs to lump us into a single niche. Individually, we are a conglomerate of personalities―distinct phenomena generated by everything and anything experienced in our lifetime. Every teaching, opinion, belief, and influence develops our personality. It is our current and immediate being and the expression of that being. It forms itself by core beliefs and is developed by social, cultural, and environmental experiences. It is constant and fluid, singular yet multiple. It is our inimitable way of thinking, feeling, and behaving. It is who we are, who we think we are, and who we believe we are destined to become. It is expressed by the simultaneous mutual interaction of our mind, body, spirit, and emotions.

The insularity of cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychologies, and other approaches cannot comprehensively address the complexity of the personality. We are better served by the integration of multiple traditional and non-traditional approaches, including those defined as new (third) wave (generation) therapies, developed through client trust, cultural assimilation, and therapeutic innovation. Our environment, heritage, background, and associations reflect our wants, choices, and aspirations. If they are not given consideration, then we are not valued.

An integration of science and east-west psychologies is essential to capture the diversity of human thought and experience. Science gives us proactive neuroplasticity; cognitive-behavioral modification, and positive psychology’s optimal functioning and subjective experience are western-oriented; and eastern practices provide the therapeutic benefits of Abhidharma psychology and the overarching truths of ethical behavior. Included in this program are targeted approaches utilized to restore self-esteem by correcting maladaptive and self-defeating thoughts and behaviors.

Every integrated approach collaborates with and supports the others. We’ll delve deeper into the objectives and benefits of each. For now, here’s a brief overview.

Cognitive-Behavioral Modification (CBM).  

Social anxiety and other self-destructive conditions stem from negative, irrational thinking and behavior caused by ingrained reactions to situations and conditions. The impediments to achieving a goal or objective are similar. Cognitive-behavioral modification (CBM) trains us to recognize our automatic negative thoughts and behaviors (ANTs), replacing them with healthy rational ones (ARTs) until they become automatic and permanent. The behavioral component of CBM involves activities that reinforce the process. CBM is structured, goal-oriented, and focused on the present and the solution. Almost 90 percent of therapeutic approaches involve cognitive-behavioral treatments. However, critical studies dispute cognitive-behavioral therapy’s efficacy, claiming it fares no better than non-CBT programs. They argue its effectiveness has deteriorated since its introduction, concluding it is no more successful than mindfulness-based therapy for depression and anxiety. Despite these criticisms, the program of thought and behavior therapy modification by Beck in the 1960s is still useful in modifying the irrational thoughts and behaviors that sustain dysfunction and discomfort and prevent us from reaching our goals and objectives when used in concert with other approaches.

Positive Psychology

While CBM focuses on modifying our negative self-image and beliefs, positive psychology emphasizes our inherent and acquired strengths, virtues, and attributes. PP focuses on the inherent human traits that help us transform and flourish. The psychology’s mental health interventions have proved successful in mitigating the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other self-destructive patterns, producing significant improvements in emotional wellbeing. Positive psychology uses scientific understanding to aid in the achievement of a productive and satisfactory life, rather than merely treating mental illness, countering the pathographic focus of established mental healthcare.  

Abhidharma Psychology and the Overarching Truths of Ethical Behavior 

The Abhidharma explores the essence of perception and experience, and the reasons and methods behind mindfulness and self-analysis. It presents a clear system for understanding our psychological dispositions, processes, habits, and challenges. Western teachings tell us what to avoid—envy, gluttony, greed, lust, hubris, laziness, and rage. Buddhist psychology tells us what to embrace—a valuable life, good intentions, tolerance, wholesome and kind living, productive livelihood, positive attitude, self-awareness, and integrity. 

It’s my belief, the historical revisions and translations of Buddha’s teachings overlooked the most important path to a healthy and productive life—that of right choice. Our self-destructive nature compels us to make the choose the self-destructive one even when every fiber of our being contradicts this compulsion. We know this because our entire human system revolts at self-destructive choices. Our physiological equilibrium is disrupted, producing changes in our heart rate, metabolism, and respiration. Inertia senses and opposes these changes, negatively impacting our brain’s basal ganglia, delivering mental confusion, emotional instability, and spiritual malaise

Self-Esteem 

The rediscovery and reinvigoration of our self-esteem are achieved through a series of clinically proven exercises to help the individual reinvigorate our positive self-properties (self              -reliance, -compassion, -resilience, etc.) disenabled by childhood exploitation, the onset of dysfunction, the subsequent disruption in natural human development, and the general distress brought on by life’s uncertainty.

To fully address the personality, we must create individual-based solutions.  Training in prosocial behavior and emotional literacy are useful supplements to typical approaches. Behavioral exercises are utilized to practice the execution of considerate and generous social skills. Positive affirmations have enormous subjective value. Data provide evidence for mindfulness and acceptance-based interventions. Motivational enhancement strategies help overcome resistance to new ideas and concepts.

Each approach provides an integral link to the quality and intention of the deliberate and repetitive information supplied to our neural network via proactive neuroplasticity.

The ultimate objectives of a Recovery Group are:

  • To provide the tools and techniques to replace years of toxic thoughts and behaviors with rational, healthy ones, dramatically alleviating the self-destructive symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other dysfunctions
  • To compel the rediscovery and reinvigoration of the individual’s character strengths, virtues, and attributes.
  • To design a targeted behavioral modification process to help the individual re-engage their social comfort and status.
  • To provide the individual the means to control their dysfunction, rather than allowing it to control them.

The main components utilized in our Recovery Group include psycho-education, cognitive comprehension, roleplay, exposure, and homework.

Psycho-Education involves teaching individuals about the relationship between thoughts, emotions, and physiological reactions. Complementarity is the inherent cooperation of our human system components in maintaining physiological equilibrium. It is mind, body, spirit, and emotions working in concert. This cooperation extends to our emotions, i.e., the complementarity of anger, laugher, pride, sadness, etc. Sustainability of our dysfunction as well as efforts to recover require and engage simultaneous mutual interaction.

Cognitive Comprehension involves correcting negative or inaccurate cognitions by identifying distorted thoughts and developing rational replies. It is based on the premise that dysfunction compels individuals to avoid the reality of their symptomatic negative self-image and beliefs, generating inaccurate, biased processing while in social situations.

Roleplay is geared towards addressing fear and anxiety-provoking situations specific to the individual. Participants act out various social roles in dramatic situations that, through comprehension and repetition, compel a change in attitudes and engage different ways of coping with stresses and conflicts.

Exposure is designed to elicit the individual’s fears, allowing them to recognize they are irrational and unfounded. In imaginal exposure, the individual is asked to visualize and describe the feared stimulus. By logically addressing it and utilizing techniques like the vertical arrow, they experience a decrease in anxiety over time. In vivo exposure allows the individual to confront feared stimuli in real-world conditions.

Homework is designed to help the individual identify distorted thoughts when they occur naturally and consists of exercises individuals that encourage self-evaluation that leads to rediscovery and recognition of worth and potential. Because the participants experience different degrees of social anxiety and different social triggers, the homework assignments are geared and designed towards individual responses which are confidentially addressed and developed between the participant and facilitator. 

Positive Personal Affirmations
Character Resume
Diversions
Plan for Exposure Situation
Vertical Arrow Technique
Shame, Blame, and Guilt
Persona
Complementarity
Positive Autobiography

Deliberate conversations
Affirmative Visualization
Slow-talk, slow thinking
Cognitive Distortions
Negative, pressure, conditional words
ANTs (automatic negative thoughts)
Moderating Exposure Situations
Coping skills
Others TBD

These are active, structured Recovery Groups for people who are willing and motivated to address the symptoms of their dysfunction. This means we can only work with self-motivated and committed individuals. We cannot accept people or continue to support them unless they are willing to participate in the discussions and exercises. While progress is exponential, goals are not met overnight. Recovery is a lifelong work-in-progress.

On-site workshops will resume post-pandemic. Individual short and long-term recovery support is also available to a select few. 

For further information or to request an interview, please fill out the following form.

Testimonials

Michael Z. – “I have lived with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) for as long as I can remember. It has overwhelmed me many times throughout my life, especially in avoiding crowds of people such as meet ‘n greets, conferences, picnics in the park, etc. I have always made the excuse that I cannot attend an event because my SAD would go into overdrive, fearing the upcoming event, always feeling “less” than others that will be there. Especially if my brain thinks the event will be “clicky.”

Our recovery group focuses on neuroplasticity (reprogramming the brain). The work brings up a lot of SAD feelings about the past and present. There are several straightforward assignments to complete while in recovery. It’s amazing what feelings come up when I’m assigned these exercises. I’ve learned:

  • My SAD does not rule me nor is it my fault that I have it.
  • How to transform any SAD negative thoughts into nurturing myself through daily affirmations

I feel more confident about attending a social gathering. Sure, I still have SAD, but now I have a plan how I can attend an event and feel more comfortable mingling with others. I like Robert’s SAD recovery program, especially how it’s taking many of my negative thoughts away and replacing them with positive ones. I also appreciate the others that are in our recovery group, as we all mingle quite well. And, of course, Robert is always there as nurturing and positive friend.”     

Matty S. – “It doesn’t come easy. Having the tools is just the start. Really understanding them all is still a challenge and the constant, long-term repetitiveness of DRNI is brutal. I’m not perfect by any means and I fall back a lot. I remember you said to consider projected failure as a process of learning, and setbacks are only possible with progress. Life is much better. I came into the program registering about a 9 out of 10 on the Richter scale of anxiety and depression. I’m now between 3 and 5 and working to get even more in control. I would give the practicum the most credit, but it taught me that I’m the captain of my ship, so I take credit and pride for hanging in there …                                                                   

Jose Garcia Silva, Ph.D.“I have never encountered such an efficient professional … His work transpires dedication, care, and love for what he does.”                                                                            

Leon V. – “I love his classes because the only pressure comes from within, not from the instructor, who clearly loves and knows what he is doing.                                                                                         

Janice Parker, Ph.D.“I am simply in awe at the writing, an individual’s insights, an individual’s deep knowing of transcendence, an individual’s intuitive understanding of psychic-physical pain, an individual’s connection of the pain to healing, an individual’s concept/title, and above all, an individual’s innate compassion …”                                                             

David C – “I’ve been unhappy and angry for as long as I can remember.  I hated my life and I was unhappy at work. I didn’t have anyone to confide in. When you kept pushing that cognitive stuff I was ready to walk, but you persuaded me that that was my social anxiety looking for an excuse to quit on myself. I don’t do as much of the positive repetitions as I should, but I do see the light at the end of the tunnel and that’s something I didn’t have before you. As far as I concerned, that pretty much says it all.”              

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 personal goals and objectives—eliminating a bad habit, self-transformation—harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Its paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and historically, clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral therapy, positive psychology, and techniques designed to compel the recovery and reinvigoration of self-esteem disrupted by the adolescent onset of dysfunction. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.

Online Courses at Academia.edu

I’m pleased to announce my new four-part course for Academia.edu: Social Anxiety Disorder in the LGBTQ+ Community.

The course explores the pervasiveness of social anxiety in the LGBT community and how it disrupts the ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships.

An estimated one in four U.S. adults and adolescents have diagnosable depression and anxiety. The LBGT community is twice as likely to be impacted as their counterparts. LGBT adolescents are almost five times as likely to attempt suicide, and 40% of transgender adults have attempted suicide in their lifetime.

Roughly one/third of LGBT persons have social anxiety disorder. Their avoidance of social situations is aggravated by the unwillingness to disclosure or seek treatment due to the stigma of diagnosis, public opinion, victimization, family rejection, homophobia, heterosexism, and identity. 

This course illustrates how social anxiety impacts healthy relationships, how the problem is exacerbated in the LGBT community, and what can be done to address the issue. The innate desire-to love and be loved is no less dynamic than any other group, but the fear and anxiety of intimacy and companionship impedes the ability to establish and maintain sustainable social connectedness. 

  • Session 1: The prevalence of social anxiety disorder in the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Session 2: Victimization, heterosexism, and homophobia in the LGBTQ+ Community.
  • Session 3: Social anxiety’s disruptive impact on healthy relationships.
  • Session 4: A paradigmatic approach to recovery utilizing proactive neuroplasticity.

Neuroscience and Happiness: Neuroplasticity and Positive Behavioral Change

Neuroplasticity is the scientific evidence of our brain’s adaptation to learning. By deliberately enhancing the process, we can proactively transform our thoughts, behaviors, and perspectives, creating healthy new mindsets, skills, and abilities. All experience notifies our neural pathways to restructure, generating a correlated change in behavior and perspective. This course demonstrates how information creates the electrical activity that restructures our neural network. The deliberate, repetitive neural input of information strengthens and solidifies the connections between neurons, dramatically accelerating and solidifying learning through synaptic neurotransmission.

  • Session 1: The evolution of proactive neuroplasticity and its impact on our behavior.
  • Session 2: The proactive application of neuroplasticity; how it empowers change.
  • Session 3: The neural trajectory of information and how it accelerates and strengthens learning.
  • Session 4: Psychological approaches that help us construct our neural information.

BROADENING THE PARAMETERS OF THE PSYCHOBIOGRAPHY: The Character Motivations of the ‘Ordinary’ Extraordinary” https://rechanneling.org/…/the-value-of-psychobiography/in C-E Mayer, P. J. .P. Fouché, R. Van Niekerk (eds.) Psychobiographical Illustrations on Meaning and Identity in Sociocultural Contexts, Palgrave MacMillan (2022).

MY EXPERIENCE OF A RECHANNLING PRACTICUM A graduate of the 10-hour ReChanneling practicum has created a website partially dedicated to his experiences. He is halfway through the five-week, 10-hour session, sharing his reactions, thoughts, and perspectives in separate posts for each hour of the practicum and including the 4 weekly post-session work-at-home. LINK

ENLISITNG POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGIES TO CHALLENGE LOVE WITHIN SAD’S CULTURE OF MALADAPTIVE SELF-BELIEFS in Claude-Helene Mayer,  Elisabeth Vanderheiden (Eds.) International Handbook of Love Transcultural and Transdisciplinary Perspectives available at Amazon and other fine booksellers.

How an Honorable Psychobiography Embraces the Fluidity of Truth in New Trends in Psychobiography, Chap. 5 (pp: 79-95). Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-16953-4-https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-16953-4

Revisiting your inherent character strengths, virtues, and attributes that generate the motivation and perseverance to attain your aspirations.

Establishing a Wellness Model for LGBTQ+ Persons with Anxiety and Depression. Academia.edu, Researchgate.com. doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.17550.38728 (PDF) Establishing a Wellness Model for LGBTQ+ Persons with a Mental Dysfunction (researchgate.net)

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

Why the Term ‘Mental Illness’ is Inappropriate


Forget most of what you have been told. You have been poorly informed by the disease model of mental healthcare and influenced by mental health stigma. Mental illness is not abnormal nor the consequence of the subject’s behavior, and there’s a clear demarcation between neurotic and psychotic. Even the term mental illness is inaccurate. Its negative perspectives and implications promulgate perceptions of incompetence, unworthiness, and undesirability. It is the dominant source of stigma, shame, and self-denigration. Realistically, we cannot eliminate the term from current models of healthcare; efforts to amend the language are promising but inadequate.  

One only needs the American Psychological Association’s[1] definition of neurosis to comprehend the mental health community’s pathographic focus. The 90-word overview contains the following words: distressing, irrational, obsessive, compulsive, dissociative, depressive, exaggerated, unconscious, conflicts, anxiety, disorders

In political correctness, the word mental defines a person or their behavior as extreme or illogical. In adolescence, anyone unpopular or different was a mental case or a retard. The urban dictionary defines mental as someone silly or stupid. It is often associated with violent or divisive behavior. Add the word illness or disorder and we have the public stereotype of something dangerous and unpredictable who cannot fend for itself and should be isolated. 

To the early civilizations, mental illnesses were the domain of supernatural forces and demonic possession. Hippocrates and diagnosticians of the 19th century favored the humours (bodily liquids). Lunar influence, sorcery, and witchcraft are timeless culprits. In the early 20th century, it was somatogenic. The biological approach argues that mental disorders are related to the brain’s physical structure and functioning. The pharmacological approach promotes it as an imbalance in brain chemistry. The first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (1952) leaned heavily on environmental and biological causes. 

The term physiological dysfunction distances itself from the hostility of mental illness but even that is inadequate, as is psychophysiological or the Bio-Psycho-Socio-Spiritual model. Dysfunction is the consequence of the simultaneous mutual interaction of mind, body, spirit, and emotions – a complementary condition which, in lesser severity, is discomfort.  

Dysfunction and discomfort are conditions that can result in functional impairment which interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. Both are what used to be called neuroses, and both are correctible through the same basic processes. It’s a matter of severity. Discomfort is a condition that impacts your quality of life, a dysfunction is a diagnosable condition that impacts your quality of life. The disease model of mental healthcare labels the latter a mental illness or disorder. 

Dysfunction is not abnormal but a natural consequence of human development. A recent article in Scientific American speculates mental disorders are so common almost everyone will develop at least one diagnosable disorder at some point in their life.[2] There is nothing abnormal or unusual about them. They are normal facets of human development – evidence of our humanness.  

There are two degrees of dysfunction: diagnosable neuroses and psychoses. When someone sees, hears, or responds to things that are not actual, they are experiencing a psychotic episode. 3% of Americans have or will experience a psychotic episode in their lives, less than 1% have a psychotic disorder. The rest of us are neurotic. Everyone has moderate-and-above levels of anxiety, stress, and depression. We are all dysfunctional to some extent. 

It’s not your fault. Research shows that 89% of dysfunction onset happens to adolescents or younger who have experienced detachment, exploitation, and or neglect. In rare cases of narcissism and PTSD where onset happens later in life, the susceptibility originates in childhood due to some physical, emotional, or sexual disturbance. 

Anything that interferes with a child’s social development is detrimental to adolescent and adult emotional health. Childhood/adolescent abuse is a generic term to describe a broad spectrum of experiences that interfere with optimal physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development. It could be hereditary, environmental, or due to some traumatic experience. The cumulative evidence that childhood and adolescent occasions and events are the primary causal factor in lifetime emotional instability has been well-established. 

Any number of things are instrumental. Your parents were over-controlling or did not provide emotional validation. Perhaps you were subjected to bullying or come from a broken home. You must recognize that it is never your fault and possibly no one is intentionally responsible. A toddler who senses abandonment when a parent is preoccupied can develop emotional issues

Those who believe dysfunction is a result of some behavior or is god’s punishment for sin are misinformed. Behaviors later in life may impact the severity but they are not responsible for the neurosis itself. You are not accountable for the cards you have been dealt; you are responsible for how you play the hand. You cannot be held accountable for your dysfunction. You did not make it happen; it happened to you. 

You are not your dysfunction; you are someone who has a dysfunction. The current pathographic process considers diagnosis over the individual. In groups, we learn to personify the dysfunction to distinguish it from the individual, so that the symptoms are appropriately assigned. A person who breaks his leg does not become the broken limb; she or he is an individual with a broken leg. 

Carl Roger’s study of the cooperation of human system components to maintain physiological equilibrium produced the word complementarity to define simultaneous mutual interaction. All human system components work in concert; they cannot function alone. Integrality describes the inter-cooperation of the human system and the environment and social fields. A disorder is not biologic, hygienic, neurochemical, or psychogenic. It is a collaboration of these, and other approaches administered by the simultaneous collaboration of the mind, body, spirit, and emotions.

There is no legitimate argument against mind-body collaboration in disease and wellness. Spirit is both the core and fluid character qualities of an individual, emotion the expression of those qualities, both in collaboration with and responsive to mind and body.

Embracing the word dysfunction over mental illness will help alleviate the deficit and diagnosis focus of the healthcare system. Changing negative and hostile language to embrace a positive dialogue of acceptance and appreciation will open the floodgates to new perspectives and positively impact the subject’s self-beliefs and image, leading to more disclosure, discussion, and recovery-remission. The self-denigrating aspects of shame will dissipate; mental health stigma becomes less threatening. The concentration on character strengths and attributes, propagated by humanism, positive psychology, and other wellness-focused alliances, will encourage accountability and foster self-reliance, leading to a confident and energized social identity. 

Experts define mental illness as a “diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder of sufficient duration to meet diagnostic criteria” that can “result in functional impairment which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.” [iv] This ‘defective’ emphasis has been the overriding psychiatric perspective for over a century. By the 1952 publication of DSM-1, the focus had drifted from pathology (the science of the causes and effects of diseases) to pathography (the breakdown of an individual’s problems, categorizing them to facilitate diagnosis). Pathography is the history of an individual’s suffering, focusing on a disease model of human behavior, whereas wellness models emphasize the positive aspects of human functioning. 

Undoubtedly, this sociological model conflicts with moral models that claim dysfunctions are onset controllable, and the dysfunctional are to blame for their symptoms, or that mental illness is God’s punishment for immoral behavior. Again, it is crucial to recognize you are not responsible for your dysfunction. Playing the blame game only distracts from the solution: What are you going to do about it?

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 personal goals and objectives—eliminating a bad habit, self-transformation—harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Its paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and historically, clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral therapy, positive psychology, and techniques designed to compel the recovery and reinvigoration of self-esteem disrupted by the adolescent onset of dysfunction. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.

[1] APA Dictionary of Psychology. (2020.) Neurosis. American Psychological Association. https://dictionary.apa.org/neurosis

[2] Reuben, A., & Schaefer, J. (2017). Mental Illness Is Far More Common Than We Knew. Scientific American. Retrieved from https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/mental-illness-is- 798 far-more-common-than-we-knew

Neuroscience and Happiness: Neuroplasticity and Positive Behavioral Change

This is a general overview of Dr. Mullen’s Academa.edu course “Neuroscience and Happiness. Neuroplasticity and Positive Behavioral Change.”

Neuroplasticity is the scientific evidence of our brain’s constant adaptation to information. Scientists refer to the process as structural remodeling of the brain. It’s what makes learning and registering new experiences possible. All information notifies our neural pathways to restructure, generating a correlated change in behavior and perspective. 

What is significant is our ability to dramatically accelerate learning by deliberately compelling our brain to repattern its neural circuitry. DRNI or deliberate, repetitive neural information empowers us to proactively transform our thoughts, behaviors, and perspectives, creating healthy new mindsets, skills, and abilities. 

Thanks to advances in technology, researchers can get a never-before-possible look at the brain’s dynamic and malleable inner mechanics.

Three forms of neuroplasticity.

Reactive neuroplasticity is our brain’s natural and indeliberate adaptation to information. We react unconsciously to sensory information and insensible experiences: music, colors, sounds, tactile impressions, phenomena. Whether it negatively or positively processes that information depends upon the content. Examples of positive reactions might be a warm bath, delightful company, a child’s laughter. An adverse reaction might be rush-hour traffic, disappointment, or a hostile gesture

Active neuroplasticity is achieved through intentional cognitive pursuits such as learning, engaging in social interaction, teaching, creating, listening to music—not just hearing it but actively listening to it. 

DRNI (deliberate, repetitive neural information) is proactive neuroplasticity—the deliberate repatterning of our neural network utilizing tools and techniques developed for the process. Proactive neuroplasticity through DRNI is the most potent and effective means of learning

(1) it alleviates symptoms of ‘mental’ disorders and general discomforts that impact our emotional wellbeing and quality of life. A regimen of DRNI can compensate for and overwhelm decades of irrational and harmful thoughts and behaviors.

(2) The calculated regimen of repetitive neural input accelerates and consolidates learning. It facilitates the pursuit of our personal goals and objectives—eliminating a bad habit, self-transformation—harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. 

Recovering from psychophysiological dysfunction and discomfort and the pursuit of goals and objectives are facilitated through the same process of DRNI.

Our brain is in constant flux; it never stops realigning to new information. Connections strengthen and weaken, neurons atrophy and others are born, learning replaces unlearning, chemical and electrical energy dissipates and expands, functions shift from one region to another. Proactively stimulating our brain with deliberate, repetitive neural information accelerates and consolidates the process; there is a correlated change in thought, behavior, and perspective, becoming habitual and spontaneous over time.  

Each neural input of information causes a receptor neuron to fire, transmitting chemical and electrical energy, neuron to neuron throughout the nervous system. DRNI expedites the process. Multiple positive DRNI, such as a series of positive personal affirmations (PPAs), cause multiple receptor neurons to fire, dramatically amplifying learning through synaptic neurotransmission. 

Hormonal and chemical neurotransmitters

Our brain rewards us with chemical and hormonal neurotransmissions: GABA for relaxation, serotonin and dopamine for pleasure and motivation, endorphins for euphoria. In addition, it supplies us with chemicals and hormones that facilitate learning, memory, and concentration. 

Life can be difficult; many of us are unsatisfied, unhappy, and nonproductive. When that information filters into our neural system, our neurotransmitters support that negativity. That’s why it’s so hard to break a bad habit and recovery difficult. Conversely, every time we provide positive input, our brain releases those same chemicals and hormones, generating feelings of self-worth and healthy productivity. It generates the motivation, persistence, and perseverance to achieve our potential.

Our brain is an organic reciprocator.

Our human brain does not think; it is an organic reciprocator that allows us to think. Its job is to provide the chemical and electrical maintenance that supports our vital functions: heartbeat, nervous system, and blood–flow. Neural messages tell us when to breathe, stimulate thirst, control our weight and digestion. Our brain does not differentiate rational from irrational thinking, healthy from toxic behaviors. Instead, it reacts to the positive or negative energy of the information. 

Universal abundance

Our brain codes the health or toxicity of information into negative or positive electrical energy. That energy, duplicated by millions of participating neurons, is reciprocated in abundance because a single neuron receptor ultimately engages millions of participating neurons, each with its energy transmissions. Our human brain contains 86 billion nerve cells or neurons arranged in pathways or networks based on that electrical activity. The reciprocating energy from DRNI is vastly more abundant because of the repeated firing of the neuron receptor. Positive energy in, positive energy multiplied millions of times, positive energy reciprocated in abundance. 

Trajectory of Information

Neurons are the core components of our brain and our central nervous system. Inside each neuron is electrical activity. Information stimulates or excites a receptor neuron which fires, stimulating a presynaptic or sensory neuron via an axon or connecting pathway. Sensory neurons transmit the information to the synapse at the junction of the postsynaptic cell or relay neuron. The synapse permits the neurons to interact. The neuron’s hairlike tendrils (dendrites) pick up the synaptic signal and forward that information to the soma or nucleus of the cell body. Continuous electrical and chemical energy impulses engage millions of participating neurons, which transmit the electrical energy to millions of other neurons in multiple interconnected areas of our brain. Finally, the electrical energy converts back into information relayed by the motor neuron to its appropriate destination–our ears, bladder, muscles, and so on. Cognitive information is compartmentalized into the areas of the brain associated with the distinctly human traits of higher thought, language, and human consciousness.

Every input of information, intentional or otherwise, causes a receptor neuron to fire. Each time a neuron fires, it strengthens the axon connection and the neural bond. DRNI expedites the process through deliberate repetition. An increase in learning efficacy arises from the sensory neuron’s repeated and persistent stimulation of the postsynaptic cell. Multiple firings dramatically accelerate and consolidate learning. In addition, DRNI activates long-term potentiation, which increases the strength of the nerve impulses along the connecting pathways, generating more energy. BDNF or brain-derived neurotrophic factors are proteins that neurons need for survival. Deliberate, repetitive neural information generates higher levels of BDNF, which is associated with improved cognitive functioning, mental health, and memory. 

Recovery from dysfunction and discomfort.

Combined statistics show that 89% of neuroses onset at adolescence or earlier. In the rare event conditions like PTSD or clinical narcissism begin later in life, susceptibility originates in childhood as a consequence of childhood physical, emotional, or sexual disturbance(s). Our self-esteem and image develop during childhood are modified by experience, and help form the foundation of our personality. We are who we are because of our core beliefs and the accumulation of our experiences. Since its onset, our dysfunction or discomfort has been feeding our brain irrational thoughts and behaviors. Irrational is anything detrimental to our emotional wellbeing and quality of life.

Simply put, it is not logical or reasonable to cause ourselves harm. These irrational thoughts and behaviors compel us to feed our brains harmful and self-destructive information. The purpose of DRNI is to replace those perceptions of undesirability and unworthiness generated by our childhood disturbance(s). 

Personal goals and objectives

The alternative utilization of DRNI is in the pursuit of our goals and objectives—improving life satisfaction, transforming ourselves, becoming the best that we can be. We all know how difficult it is to change, remove ourselves from hostile environments, and break harmful habits that interfere with optimum functioning. We’re physiologically hard-wired to resist anything that disrupts our equilibrium. Our inertia senses and repels changes, and our brain’s basal ganglia resist any modification in behavior patterns. DRNI empowers us to assume accountability for our emotional wellbeing, productivity, and quality of life, by proactively controlling information input.

Hebbian Learning

Hebbian learning describes how neurons learn by responding to information. Hebb’s rule of neuroplasticity states, neurons that fire together wire together. In other words, the more neurons communicate with one another, the stronger the connection. When multiple neurons wire together, they create more receptor and sensory neurons. Repeated firing strengthens and solidifies the pathways between neurons. Synaptic connections consolidate when two or more neurons are activated contiguously. The more repetitions, the quicker and more robust the new connection. The activity of the axon pathway is heightened, urging the synapses to increase and accelerate the release of chemicals and hormones. Conscious repetition of information correlates to more robust learning and unlearning.

An Example Utilizing Social Anxiety Disorder

We are physiologically acclimated to our condition. It has been developing within us since childhood. This is why it is challenging to establish new habits or change our self-image and outlook. Let us use the example of someone with social anxiety disorder. The predominant symptom of SAD is intense apprehension of social interaction—the fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, and ridiculed. This causes persistent, pathological anxiety in everyday situations such as dating, interviewing for a position, even answering a question in class. 

Because our brain does not differentiate healthy from toxic information, each time a SAD person avoids a social situation or alienates someone out of fear of rejection, she or he is chemically and hormonally compensated. Self-destructive behaviors are rewarded with GABA for relaxation, dopamine for pleasure and motivation, endorphins for euphoria, and serotonin for a sense of wellbeing. We receive acetylcholine for our negativity, glutamate to support our selective memory, and noradrenaline to meddle with our concentration. Our brain says good job. Here is some more encouragement for your irrational behavior. 

Our neural network naturally adapts and restructures to information, whether reactive to unconscious experience or actively generated by our compulsion to engage and learn. Logic dictates that if our neural network learns from information, its deliberate, repetitive neural input enhances the process. If information naturally strengthens and consolidates neural connections to accelerate learning, then repetition dramatically expedites the process. 

Positive personal affirmations

Positive personal affirmations are rational, reasonable, possible, goal-focused, and first-person present time. Rational because the objective is subverting irrationality. Remember, it is illogical and unreasonable to cause ourselves harm. PPAs are fair and sensible reflections of our aspirations and intentions. The end goal must be possible, or the effort is counter-productive and futile. Goal-focused is self-explanatory; if we do not know our destination, our path will be purposeless meandering. We learn from the experiences, but we do not control them. First-person, present time affirms we are dealing with the here-and-now; DRNI is here-and-now activity. Brevity is also essential. PPAs should be unconditional and to the point. The information at the core of DRNI is calculated and specific to intention. Are we challenging the negative thoughts and behaviors of our dysfunction? Are we reaffirming the character strengths that generate the motivation and perseverance to accomplish? What is our end goal? What is the personal milestone we desire to achieve? The crucial element of DRNI is the content of the intention behind the information. The strength of the message correlates to its durability and learning efficacy. 

So, what is the content of deliberate, repetitive neural information, how is it constructed, and what materials are helpful to its construction?  CBT, positive psychology, and other positive approaches collaboratively work to develop the specific, intention-driven content of the positive personal affirmations at the core of DRNI.  

As light is the absence of darkness, so positive is the absence of negativity. Cognitive-behavioral therapy’s overarching objective is to replace irrational and unhealthy thoughts and behaviors with productive and emotionally affirming ones. 

As our understanding of behavioral neuroplasticity evolved, it became clear that the practice of cognitive-behavioral modification produces changes in human brain activity. Further studies revealed that an effective way to counter the negativity generated by our dysfunction or discomfort is through the cognitive aspect of CBM, the deliberate, repetitious input of positive information. Over time and through repetition, new thoughts and behaviors become habitual and spontaneous. Studies of CBM have shown it to be an effective treatment for various mental illnesses, including depression, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, panic, bipolar and eating disorders, PTSD, OCD, and schizophrenia. CBM’s mechanisms of change are formidable tools in behavioral modification when utilizing repetitive cognitive reinforcement in concert with other approaches. The behavioral aspect supports the process Positive personal affirmations, embraced by us for centuries, are the cognitive aspect of CBM.

Positive psychology is the most viable adjunct to cognitive-behavioral modification in the processing of DRNI. Although the program functions best in conjunction with other approaches, its focus on the positive aspects of human development and achievement not only improves our self-image and perspectives but greatly enhances overall psychological and physiological health.

Positive psychology describes the pursuit of recovery and goals and objectives as people determining their potential and purpose by constructing and reclaiming a valued and welcoming identity. Its emphasis is on recognizing and regenerating our inherent character strengths, virtues, and attributes, which underscore our creativity, optimism, resilience, empathy, compassion, humor, and life satisfaction. It facilitates this through mindfulness, autobiography, positive writing, gratitude, forgiveness, kindness, and other self-affirming techniques. The overarching objective of positive psychology is to identify our inherent assets and capabilities to achieve our potential to become the best that we can be.

Accepting scientific validity to approaches that support DRNI encourages us to control our dysfunction or discomfort and achieve our motivating personal concerns. Achieving recovery and motivating personal concerns are not overnight achievables, however. The process is simple in theory but challenging due to the commitment and endurance required for the long-term, repetitive process of proactive neuroplasticity. 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 some time at the keyboard. DRNI requires a calculated regimen of deliberate, repetitive neural information. We can have all the tools we require, 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. 

Recommended Practice: Repeat three positive personal affirmations a minimum of 5 times daily. That is about five minutes of your time. 

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 personal goals and objectives—eliminating a bad habit, self-transformation—harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Its paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and historically, clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral therapy, positive psychology, and techniques designed to compel the recovery and reinvigoration of self-esteem disrupted by the adolescent onset of dysfunction. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.

The Impact of Unresolved Blame and Guilt in Recovery

Blame and guilt are normal emotions that become toxic when unresolved. They collaborate when blame is utilized to avoid personal accountability, and when guilt is a consequence of accepting blame for harming another. They both generate shame until or unless addressed.

Blame

Blame is the act of censuring, holding responsible, or making negative statements about the self, an individual, or group that their action(s) were wrong, and they are socially or morally irresponsible. Blame is threefold: (1) blaming others who have harmed us; (2) blaming ourselves for harming another; (3) blaming ourselves for self-harm. 

Blaming is a natural and healthy response to situations, although the initial act is often distorted. For example, children often blame themselves for household disharmony. A student may blame a failing test grade on their stupidity rather than their lack of preparedness. We blame ourselves for our dysfunction and society for making our life so difficult. We blame ourselves, our parents, our neighbors, god, and anyone caught lurking for inconsequential things or situations beyond anyone’s control.

Most of our blaming is in response to forgettable, harmless situations. Some blaming carries significant emotional weight, especially if the harm is serious or prolonged. We often carry that emotional baggage throughout our life. It is unhealthy and non-conducive to recovery. When we hold onto these feelings, we construct our neural network with anger, hurt, and resentment. To paraphrase Buddha, holding onto anger is holding onto a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you’re the one who gets burned. Our transgressors are likely (1) unaware they injured us, (2) have forgotten the injury, (3) take no responsibility for it, (4) or don’t care. The only person negatively impacted is the blaming party.

Those who have harmed us should be held accountable, and we must take responsibility for our own transgressions. To release the negative energy, we must forgive those transgressions and move on. Why is that difficult to do? Because our anger and righteous indignation satisfy us. We also become physiologically addicted to the pleasurable chemicals that reward our hatred and resentment.

Transgressions against another manifest in guilt and shame—negative baggage that can only be released by accepting responsibility, making amends, and forgiving ourselves.

Self-blame is one of the most toxic forms of self-abuse. Since it is irrational to self-harm, it is caused by our dysfunction. We falsely self-blame for our behaviors and our perceived character deficits caused by our dysfunction. We are not our dysfunction, therefore, any blame must be ascribed to the dysfunction; self-blame is irrational and delusory. When addressed rationally, it can lead to positive change.

Guilt

Guilt is a psychological term for a natural self-conscious emotion that condemns the self while conscious of being evaluated by another person(s). It is the physiologically harmful feeling of having done something wrong, with an implicit need to correct or amend.

There are multiple levels and factors of guilt. We feel guilt for harming another, and for being the type of person who would affect harm. We feel guilt for harming ourselves. We guilt ourselves for things over which we have no control (cognitively distorted guilt).

The sensation of guilt is a reminder that we have done something wrong that we need to correct or amend. Such actions can remove the overriding vehemence of guilt from our conscience. Guilt is self-focused but highly socially relevant: It supports important interpersonal functions by, for example, encouraging adjusting or repairing valuable relationships and discouraging acts that could damage them. 

Rather than taking responsibility for guilt-provoking actions, we often play the blame game, ascribing the guilt to another entity. Since we subconsciously recognize our attribution, we add the burden of blame to the burden of guilt.

Until or unless we are mindful of our actions that elicited the guilt, and address those actions, we carry that emotional baggage throughout our life. It is unhealthy and non-conducive to self-esteem and recovery. When we hold onto guilt, we pattern our neural network with self-doubt, self-contempt, and self-unworthiness.

The harmful impact of guilt can be resolved by:

  1. Mindfulness (recognition and acceptance) of the act that incurred the guilt.
  2. Recognizing and disputing any cognitively distorting guilt for things we are not responsible for or things over which we have no control.
  3. Making direct amends for acts we are responsible for. Making substitutional amends if direct amends are not possible. 
  4. Then forgiving our self for the act that incurred the guilt. 

When we allow the negativity of guilt to take up valuable space in our brain, it impedes the flow of positive thought and action necessary for recovery. To excise this harmful negativity, we must forgive ourselves (which requires amending or remedying). Years of hanging onto guilt take their toll, and the negative self-image builds and solidifies, and overwhelms anything that hints at self-worth or value. Guilt is considered a ‘sad’ emotion, along with agony, grief, and loneliness, each a debilitating symptom of social anxiety disorder.

By withholding forgiveness, we deny ourselves the ability to function optimally; it is divisive to our wellbeing and disharmonious to our true nature. Forgiving is the only way to expel the hostility. We cannot hope to recover without courageously absolving our self and others whose behavior contributed to our negativity.

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 personal goals and objectives—eliminating a bad habit, self-transformation—harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Its paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and historically, clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral therapy, positive psychology, and techniques designed to compel the recovery and reinvigoration of self-esteem disrupted by the adolescent onset of dysfunction. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.