You tell yourself often enough that you’re stupid…

And you can take yourself from this:

We all start from here

To this:

... and some of us end up here

Especially in the case of concussion or TBI, if you keep firing the same neurons that say Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!, you can eventually train your brain to act the way you expect.

Neurons that fire together, wire together. So be careful about what you wire, each day.

Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

4 thoughts on “You tell yourself often enough that you’re stupid…”

  1. BB –

    Just a point – I think that you are dead on correct in this – a good neuropsych will point people in this direction – it is the basis for cognitive behavioral therapy – rethinking the patterns. However there is 1 thing I always tell survivors – rewiring is hard and slow work. This will not happen in days or weeks or even months – it may take years. It takes 25 plus years for your brain to fully develop, to synchronize, to effectively utilize your executive functions etc – when you damage that – even in spread out little spots like DAI (diffuse axonal injury which is most mTBI) you are still affecting the whole. The rewiring process requires daily effort. Sometimes this is not worth it and sometimes it is – depends on age, what the problems are, your life situation etc. That does NOT mean give up or be passive – it means put your effort where you get the most ROI (So to speak) – cognitive retraining is EXHAUSTIVE – why do you think kids need 10 hours of sleep? I think that if people do not appreciate the effort involved they attempt to ‘rewire’ and then quit in frustration when after two weeks or two month they see no ‘change’ – your brain is a reluctant companion, it is naturally lazy – it will not do what it doesn’t have to at the primitive level. At the primitive level it has to do flight or fight, breathe, and a few other things. The rest is commentary.

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  2. Hi BB,
    Just synchronistically came across this excerpt from my book My Latent Self that I thought to share:-

    “To survive a recovery from brain injury you have to find a way of taking responsibility for your every action, without ever falling into the trap of being a ‘woe [is] me’ victim who gets in the habit of self-chastisement and self-punishment. When you begin to recover the ego starts to need the psychological protection of the mind, because without positive support, you can easily become frail and cowering – just as easily as does the child who is reared in an abusive environment. The innocence of brain injury eventually creeps away, just as the thought patterns of a teenager must eventually evolve into a more independent and stalwart self….”

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  3. Hey m –

    Hard and slow work, is right. There’s just no easy way. The key for me is to find a way to have all that work be at least a little bit entertaining and rewarding in its own right, or I just give up. I think also remembering why I’m doing it and getting regular reminders that I’m making progress is also helpful.

    It never ceases to amaze me, how much easier it is for me to “rewire” my brain to think I’m stupid, vs. training myself to think of myself as a work in progress.

    On a certain level, it’s just fascinating…

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  4. Smiling – well that ‘beefs’ things up!!!! Great to share! 🙂

    Yes it can take years – hence my comment about the ‘innocence’ of BI ‘eventually creeping away…’ What I find really exciting is your stance on what the basic brain is doing and/or is capable of. Here is another excerpt from my book for you…

    “Without a history, and totally lacking in self-awareness, the only thing that kept me going through the darkest years was my genetic code, which drives the profoundly deep automaton of the physical brain. We call the outcome of this ‘personality;’ but to me, it is far more than the offshoot of life and nurture. The core aspects of self, such as those I will mention in a moment, are the life-force, the energy, which drives the automatic processes of the brain. Our essential energy or spirit is the original energy source; it is the battery, the generator, the power-house… My vitality drove my brain and my brain did the rest when ‘I’ couldn’t.

    I am resilient; it was this resilience which drove me to keep bobbing back up. The way my brain automatically functions without my conscious input, is also resilient. It is tenacious, flexible, patient, astute, organised, optimistic and tolerant. These sound like aspects of personality but, from where I am sitting, they are much more than that. I totally believe that characteristics such as these are genetically coded into us. Our genes drive the way our brains work – our personalities are the external presentation of this.

    This is precisely why I don’t believe that brain injury actually changes us. The mechanics of the brain may be damaged – but our genetic code can never be altered. My brain and ‘I’ weren’t synchronised; we had entirely separate agenda’s. This is what creates the illusion that we are ‘lost.’ The ‘self,’ the thinking voice in your head, gets suffocated by the brain desperately trying to perform basic routines. In essence it is the quantum processes of evolution that have optimised my brain and its’ recovery automatically.”

    ‘m’ – as far as I am concerned, your brain is tenacious, it wants to heal – let it lead you. The very basic foundation of life is to survive – to survive, those of us with TBI’s must heal… It is totally natural, it WILL happen. This website is FULL of inspiration from BB – this site is pretty unique and highly valued by many…

    I also think that the loss of self – coming back to another BB subject – can neatly ‘cover-up’ the aspect of ‘Self’ (Whole) that ‘knows’ that what we are experiencing is simply a part of our chosen path. ACCEPTANCE is key to our attitudes. Our ‘highest self,’ our spirit, ‘KNOWS’ that everything is happening perfectly – all we have to do is to come back to knowing and understanding this…

    Godspeed

    Annie (under construction http://www.mylatentself.co.uk)

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