The 20th century was a century of exciting scientific breakthroughs. It was also a period when a number of scientific myths prevailed.
The Evolution of Neuroscience
Behaviorist psychologists promoted a theory that we were mere mechanisms without free will or the ability to control our thoughts and emotions. We could be controlled by outside intervention, though. In the 1950s, another school of psychology, the humanist school, arose to counter the claims of the behaviorists.
For a time, it seemed like the behaviorists had the upper hand, but then neuroscientists discovered that even the structure of the brain could change to compensate for damage or trauma. Neuroplasticity went from being a pie-in-the-sky theory to an established scientific fact.
The term “neuroplasticity” was coined to describe the ability of neurons in the brain (“neuro”) to be remoulded, shaped or otherwise modified (“plasticity’). Previously, neuroscientists believed the brain had a fixed number of cells. No new cells could be formed, but they could die off. Later studies disproved this theory. The brain is capable of growing new cells and the brain can develop new neural pathways. Importantly, by setting an intention and following through, you can create new neural pathways in your own brain.
DNA and Your Genetic Makeup
The science of genetics went through a similar metamorphosis. After DNA was discovered, scientists believed our genetic makeup was fixed at birth and there was nothing we could do about it. Epigenetics studies the effects of environmental forces on our genetic makeup. While it is true that we do inherit some traits, it is equally true that diet, environmental factors and even our own thoughts can have a positive or negative effect on us at a cellular level.
In a nutshell, we are NOT victims of circumstances, environment or our genetic makeup. We have the power to make profound changes to our health and psychological well being.
One of the worst things you can tell yourself is, “That’s just the way I am.” Unfortunately, too many people still believe they are victims of their genetic makeup. Replace negative thinking with a positive, empowering affirmation and there is nothing you cannot achieve. The power to change is within you. All you need to do is claim it and take steps to be the change you want to see in yourself and the world.