Remember Pollyanna and the 'glad game’?
The American Heritage Dictionary defines "Pollyanna" as "a person regarded as being foolishly or blindly optimistic." Used in such a derogatory way, a "Pollyanna" is defined as a naive person, who does not see reality and is oblivious to the selfishness or evilness in man. However as advocates of the value of positive thinking and gratitude would claim:
“Turns out, Pollyanna was right! The positive power of gratitude has been overwhelmingly proven by science. People who are consciously grateful are more energetic, more determined, think more clearly, think more methodically, make more progress towards goals, have more resilience during tough times, and are more optimistic, enthusiastic, and joyful. As if that wasn’t enough proof, the grateful are have fewer illnesses, greater immune response, and even exercise more.” Terry DeMeo
A concept that is also shared by religion, the path of gratefulness and counting one’s blessings as well as seeing the best in people, is considered to be the highest path to God. “Be Good, See Good, Do Good” were also some of the favourite quotes of famous Gurus of our times.The power of positivity has permeated Positive Psychology and several studies seem to prove it’s value. For example a study: Open Hearts Build Lives: Positive Emotions, Induced Through Loving-Kindness Meditation, Build Consequential Personal Resources by Barbara L. Fredrickson and others, found that:
“The broaden-and-build theory (Fredrickson, 1998, 2001) states that, over time, recurrent experiences of positive emotions allow people to build consequential personal resources. The data reported here provide the first experimental test of the build hypothesis. The findings are clear cut: The practice of LKM led to shifts in people’s daily experiences of a wide range of positive emotions, including love, joy, gratitude, contentment, hope, pride, interest, amusement, and awe.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3156028/
On the other hand negative thinking has been shown to slow down brain coordination, making it difficult to process thoughts and new information, therefore hindering one’s ability for solution thinking and that the more you focus on negativity, the more synapses and neurons your brain will create that support your negative thought process and create a vicious cycle loop.
Then comes the concept of Neuroplasticity, an admittedly monumental breakthrough in neuroscience that can be both positive and negative. Annie Hopper in her book “Wired for Healing: Remapping the Brain to Recover from Chronic and Mysterious Illnesses”, talks about Limbic system trauma and explains how in the case of Limbic System Impairment, this neuroplastic or adaptive process can result in a wide variety of negative symptoms. However the highly positive thing is that the adaptive property of neuroplasticity can also be used in a positive way. Through the Dynamic Neural Retraining System™ participants can learn to recognize the unconscious reactions associated with a Limbic System impairment and how to consciously interrupt the associated trauma cycle. http://www.dnrsystem.com/neuroplasticity.html
A lot of studies have been done about the merits of Mindfulness too, which is more about learning how to emotionally detach oneself from upsetting or distressing thoughts by focusing and staying fully in the present moment. Simply observing one’s thoughts in a nonjudgmental way, allowing them to come and go, without any kind of active interference.
The research on neuroplasticity though together with the work of cognitive behavior therapy, seem to offer good results in ‘rewiring’ one’s brain, not only in mental but also physical health. Not that Mindfulness and Meditation do not offer very good results, but they are not always easy to accommodate and include in our fast paced Western mode of life, thus not working optimally for everyone.
The concept of neuroplasticity and rewiring the brain, is very real and science has already proven it’s effectiveness, for example in stroke patients who manage to regain movement and/or faculties by following exercise regimens that use the concept. In itself that fact alone makes it more tangible and easier for people to understand. Essentially what happens when using Neural Retraining, is that we use the power of our imagination and visualisation together with our power of definition and reframing our experiences and/or beliefs, in order to ‘rewire’ our brains, or if you like re-program ourselves.
So where does The Game of Definition fit into all this? Basically the whole concept of The Power of Definition and the ways this can be used in a positive and constructive way to benefit our emotional, mental and physical health is very much linked with the concept of neuroplasticity. It is a technique or 'Game' I use with my clients to help them re-examine, re-frame and re-design their reality. The goal is to free the individual from false, limiting beliefs and open the door to new possibilities, develop one's strengths and overcome one's challenges in order to live a happier and more productive life.
Every time we choose to question the world around us, our assumptions and beliefs, we play The Game of Definition. We increase our freedom and ability to look at things from different perspectives, different points of view, all the while emotionally charging those beliefs by ‘acting as if’ and making it real. It uses concepts and elements of Neural retraining, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, gradual Desensitization, Hypnotherapy and Gestalt.
The Game of Definition uses various tools, one of which is ‘The Points of You’ – The Coaching Game by Points of You.
The Game of Definition © 2016 - Emmanuelle Stathopoulos