IT’S NOT IN THE GENES

AT­TEND­ING A NEU­RO­SCIENCE CON­FER­ENCE IN­SPIRED A THOUGHT OF SIM­PLIC­ITY THAT RE­LATES TO EV­ERY DAY LIFE

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | RELATIONSH­IPS - WORDS: JOANNE WIL­SON Joanne Wil­son is a neu­ropsy­chother­a­pist, re­la­tion­ship specialist, ra­dio co-host, work­shop fa­cil­i­ta­tor and guest speaker. Visit: the­con­fi­dan­te­coun­selling.com.

I’m sure my in­tel­li­gence quo­tient in­creased this week merely by at­tend­ing the In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence of Ap­plied Neu­ro­science. You’re wel­come to contest this but I’m en­thu­si­as­ti­cally own­ing it. As I basked in the com­pany of a bunch of mental health work­ers with Phds, GPS, psy­chol­o­gists, coun­sel­lors and so­cial work­ers, I mar­velled at their earnest de­sire to help and in­spire peo­ple to well­ness. You’d think my newly ac­quired in­tel­li­gence would pro­duce an ar­ti­cle fea­tur­ing some rather sub­stan­tial long words start­ing with neuro and end­ing with brain-de­rived neu­rotrophic fac­tor. While these terms are incredibly

im­por­tant, I’ve kept it simple for us. Love is the an­swer. For all this lis­ten­ing and learn­ing from thought lead­ers in my field, you’d think I’d need to share much more to­day. While there were some fas­ci­nat­ing in­sights to share in sub­se­quent ar­ti­cles, this is a simple, beau­ti­ful place to start. No mat­ter how com­pro­mised your home life was as a child, how much you’re griev­ing from loss, how bul­lied you’ve been, ne­glected, lonely or sub­se­quently depressed you feel – find­ing some­one to pro­vide you emo­tional at­ten­tive­ness can be your turn­ing point to­ward thriv­ing and find­ing joy. En­joy­ing the trust­ing ther­a­peu­tic al­liance with an­other beau­ti­ful hu­man who will lis­ten, guide and sup­port your choice to grow is a gift. Those peo­ple who help you re­alise you truly mat­ter are paramount. Did you also know that feel­ing bad over life’s curve balls does not mean you nec­es­sar­ily have a mental dis­or­der? Our im­me­di­ate so­ci­ety means we ex­pect an in­stant fast con­nec­tion and quick fix. I’m talk­ing about the next Netflix episode “com­ing up” in eight sec­onds, high-speed on­line in­for­ma­tion – not on the Sun­shine Coast un­for­tu­nately, fast food and a pill for any­thing else. Death and griev­ing, los­ing your job or feel­ing down when life isn’t go­ing so smooth may not mean you re­quire a mental health diagnosis. Ad­versely, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing true joy as a com­par­i­son to life go­ing great doesn’t mean you are manic. Life sure is a roller-coaster and build­ing re­silience with your tool­box of healthy strate­gies is worth­while. When you can’t get out of your funk, lean on a mental health pro­fes­sional to help you nav­i­gate your way out and de­cide if you need medic­i­nal sup­port. Just say­ing, it doesn’t al­ways mean you’re about to be di­ag­nosed with a ghastly dis­or­der. Fur­ther­more, gone are the days we can blame our in­her­ited genes for all our shonky habits, de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety or any ten­dency to chew with our mouth open. Sorry folks, you can only al­lo­cate 2 per cent of your “pre-de­ter­mined” genes to that. The rest are non-encoded, which means the other 98 per cent is af­fected by your en­vi­ron­ment and sub­se­quent abil­ity to self-reg­u­late, ap­ply self-dis­ci­pline and be re­silient in the face of ad­ver­sity. Genes only lay out po­ten­tials and vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties but don’t dic­tate your thoughts, feel­ings or be­hav­iour. You can even turn them off by chang­ing your be­hav­iour and en­vi­ron­ment. Change that and your brain changes. Very cool. This has been found to ap­ply to other mam­mals. Did you know that re­search stud­ies prove that rat pups who were lov­ingly licked by their rat mummy have greater re­silience and reg­u­la­tion than those who didn’t en­joy such a car­ing en­vi­ron­ment? These happy lit­tle ro­dents en­joy a more ef­fec­tive ther­mo­stat for stress fea­tur­ing less cortisol and more sero­tonin – the happy neuro-juice. Love is the an­swer. With spe­cial thanks to Dr John Ar­den, au­thor of Mind-brain-gene: To­ward Psy­chother­apy In­te­gra­tion for his inspiring pre­sen­ta­tion and in­ter­view. I look for­ward to shar­ing more won­drous neuro-facts and how they re­late to our re­la­tion­ships. Lis­ten in for my in­ter­views with some of the es­teemed au­thors and neu­ro­sci­en­tists on Fri­day morn­ings on the Salt 106.5 break­fast show with Kris­tian.

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