How does your brain learn, and how does that shape your daily interactions?

In INSIDE CHANGE, we discussed research about how the brain learns.  We create learning in one part of the brain, then we have to APPLY that learning in another part.  It’s like we have a map of the world, then we add to that old map a new layer of corrections… but the original map is still present.  When we’re reacting to stress or threat, we’re much more likely to go back to the original map.

In other words, we don’t actually un-learn. We learn-over — and there is an emotional component to which version we use.  This incredibly powerful, complex phenomenon is beautifully illustrated in a fascinating, fun, must-watch video below.

The video doesn’t talk explicitly about the emotional dimension of this learning process, but Destin, the Smarter Every Day guy, does talk about his feelings in his experience.  How do emotions drive your learning and willingness to change?

In the Six Seconds Model of Emotional Intelligence, we talk about a skill called “Recognizing Patterns” – it’s the capability to notice our recurring reactions.  Patterns, and the emotions that fuel them, become a filter through which we see the world — and they make change difficult.  

When Destin shows people the bike and they assume, “I can ride that,” it’s because they’re unaware of how deeply they have this pattern of bike riding. There are a zillion “bicycle patterns” in our lives each day.  Patterns we’ve learned about how to react to the world… for example how we’ve learned to react to a perceived threat, or a compliment, or a surprise, or a disappointment.

If we want to become more intentional and carefully RESPOND to the moments of our days (instead of just reacting on auto-pilot), the first step is noticing these patterns of reaction.

Thanks to Anabel Jensen for sharing this video!


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Joshua Freedman

Joshua is one of the world’s preeminent experts on developing emotional intelligence to create positive change. With warmth and authenticity, he translates leading-edge science into practical, applicable terms that improve the quality of relationships to unlock enduring success. Joshua leads the world’s largest network of emotional intelligence practitioners and researchers.
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