Two very distinctive kinds of thought originate in the brain. The brain organ itself produces automatic thought. Flexible thought occurs via the plasticity of the mind. Paradoxically, the organ stays the same, and changes at the same time.
The brain as an organ is fixed in its capacity. Consequently throughout our lives the brain prunes or changes its content and removes memories and other forms of information that are stored in the organ, and it allows new information to enter, through its characteristic of plasticity.
Since there is only so much room within the organ, the brain summarizes our memories and other information, over time, and organizes itself in order to have the capacity to receive more information.
It is probable that we humans operate from automaticity most of the time. This results in us having formed relatively fixed conclusions about ourselves and others and how we interact, and how we go about the day-to-day tasks of living.
Within the fixed capacity of the brain, our stored personal narrative becomes an edited version of our reality, and not a reflection of the entirety of the experiences of joy and pain that occur throughout the span of our lives. For example, when our brains are stuck on the narrative of traumatic events that we have endured, we may become unbalanced towards our trauma; the brain not summarizing the daily joy that has occurred, instead, pruning away the joy. This may explain the onset of depression: when a person’s central experience is, “I’m in a terrible situation. My life is hopeless,” desperation readily sets in.
In the revolutionary T-groups of the 60’s and 70’s, participants stepped away from the automaticity of the ‘real world’, and experimented with interactive behaviours that stretched their sense of self. They summed up positive experiences in a way that balanced their sense of mistrust, fear of being hurt, and hopelessness, with actual experiences of trust in others, and frequently came away with a sense of hope.
Today, our ever-evolving knowledge of the organ that is the brain and the brain’s process, and the interface between the two (which we can access by the practice of mindfulness) makes it possible for us to challenge our automaticity in relation to others, and consciously re-write our attachment narrative.