Freeing Yourself From the Prisons of the Past: Mindsight

Can you free yourself from the prisons of the past?  The answer is Yes.  The more you understand yourself and make sense of your life, the more you are able to have compassion and develop healthy relationships.

Dan Siegel, a researcher in the neurobiology of relationships, says that taking time to understand the working of your mind develops a capacity for "Mindsight."  It is the ability to observe and be aware of the processes of the mind itself, i.e. thoughts, feelings, perceptions, memories, beliefs, attitudes, and intentions. Mindsight is a capacity for insight and empathy that is developed throughout life with our internal reflections about our self. It helps you to be mindful of others.

Being mindful is at the heart of nurturing relationships.  When we are mindful, we are aware of our own thoughts and feelings and are also open to those of others. If we have clarity within ourselves, we are more able to fully appreciate others. Being mindful also helps us to purposefully choose a behavior with the other person's well-being in mind. Others notice our thoughtfulness and feel safe and nurtured around us. Mindfulness thus enhances all of our relationships.

Contrary to what many believe, your early experiences do not have to determine your fate.  When you are able to make sense of your early experiences, you are more able forgive and less likely to recreate old patterns.  Without self-understanding, science has shown that "History will repeat itself."

Siegel's research in neuroscience suggests that the brain continues to develop both new connections and perhaps new neurons throughout a persons life. The connections among neurons determine how mental processes are created. Experience shapes neural connections in the brain, reshaping the mind.  Interpersonal relationships and self-reflection thus foster this ongoing growth of the mind.

Being mindful helps us to focus on more than just the surface of our experience.  We can intentionally choose to grow; intentionally choose to appreciate others, and intentionally allow new neural networks to develop in the brain. When we do so our living becomes more joyful.


Dr. Alice