Your Brain is Like a Road
by Megan Malo 18 August 2022
Have you ever seen a field with long grass that looks like it is flowing in the wind? The field is pristine with no tracks running through it. Now picture driving a truck through that field. There is an obvious trail. However, if the truck never comes back the field shortly returns to its original condition with very little evidence the truck was ever there. Now picture instead, the truck driving over the same path over and over. Soon there is a deeply rutted trail. This is my favorite analogy for how our brains work. Over the course of our lives, our brains have developed many in-grained roads. Our genes, experience, personalities, and environments have made some paths into 6 lane highways in our brains. They are the default route our thoughts go to when something happens. The good news is that something called brain plasticity makes it so we can create new roads in our brains. However, as anyone who lives in Alberta knows, road construction can take a long time. Our brains are the same way. Real change occurs when we repeatedly do actions that reinforce the direction we want to go. These can be small actions that are the equivalent of driving the truck down the dirt road again and again or bigger actions that act like a bulldozer and pave the way for new thoughts and actions. I love this as it shows that not only is change possible but also that it is ok if sometimes we mess up. Highways don’t pop into existence the first day the construction crew is out. They take time and effort and each stage of construction is important. It is ok if sometimes we hit delays as long as we keep working towards that new path. And as one Edmontonian once said, “Be like the Anthony Henday and never stop working on yourself”.