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  • Pearce Cucchissi

15 Min to Lasting Brain Rewiring

Paint the Scene:

You're a leader, there are feelings of isolation at the top, no direct peers to vent to or help to regulate your state, you feel you can't show weakness or vulnerabilities, you have to take the load and stress to keep it from your team.

You notice you're holding onto negativity, your mind is often racing, or you can't seem to break certain behavior patterns.

What can you do to improve your sense of operating and wellbeing?

What can you do to rely only on yourself to be free?

I've utilized a writing protocol as a key tool for increasing my mental and emotional fitness for some time. I however, didn't fully understand scientifically how it works. This still most likely is not completely understood but I was able to find evidence to back up what I had noticed through experience.

Researchers found that a 15-30 min practice of diving deep into an emotionally difficult experience of the past made lasting changes on how that experience has affected our current emotional state.

I cant think of many more things that would be critical especially for leadership of organizations to utilize. We must be able to rely on clarity of thought to be able to allow for innovation, proper leadership, and decision making.

The Protocol in Practice

Experience: Over 4 sessions of writing about the same situation for 15 min straight, you'll notice that it brings up and amplifies emotional states we often run from. You won't want to continue most likely, no different than going for a difficult run for physical fitness. But no one has ever gotten fit by lying on the couch and staying comfortable.

Journey: With each progressing session you should start to feel the negative feelings dissipate, you may feel lighter, find more of the positives, see things more clearly. This is your body and mind processing what has happened properly. Returning to homeostasis. A place many of us have lost over time.

The Science Behind the Protocol

Origins: This journaling technique, developed by Dr. James Pennebaker in 1986, goes beyond traditional journaling methods. It's not about recording daily events or expressing gratitude; it's an introspective dive into our most traumatic or stressful experiences.

Mechanism: The protocol leverages neuroplasticity, our brain's ability to rewire itself. By revisiting emotionally charged memories, we stimulate the prefrontal cortex, the brain region involved in processing and narrating experiences. This activation helps reframe our perception of past events, leading to emotional and physical healing.

Studies and Findings

Pennebaker's Research: The initial study by Dr. Pennebaker revealed remarkable outcomes. Participants who engaged in this form of expressive writing reported significant improvements in both physical and mental health compared to those who wrote about neutral topics.

Physiological Changes: Participants exhibited varied emotional expressions, classified as low or high expressors. Regardless of their expression style, all experienced reduced distress and physiological benefits, such as lower heart rates and improved immune response.

My Key Takeaways

1. Emotional Intensity is Crucial: The protocol's effectiveness lies in its ability to stir deep emotions. This can be challenging but is essential for triggering neuroplastic changes.

2. Honesty is Paramount: The more truthful and vulnerable I was in my writing, the more I felt relief and clarity. This authenticity is a key component in activating the prefrontal cortex and reorganizing our emotional experiences.

3. It's Not a One-Size-Fits-All: While the protocol is potent, it's important to approach it with self-awareness. Not everyone's experience will be the same, and it's crucial to be mindful of your emotional boundaries.

4. Consistency Over Perfection: The practice requires dedication. Writing for four consecutive days was challenging, but consistency is what allows the brain to process and rewire thought patterns.

To go deeper into these practices you can find my current protocols here.

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