Why Smart People Don’t Change

Think of something that you know you shouldn’t do, but you just keep doing it. (Agreeing to a project you don’t have time for. Hesitating, over-analyzing and deliberating while another opportunity passes you by. Doing something yourself when you should be delegating).

Thanks to more and more research in the field of neuroscience, we are beginning to unravel the reasons smart people don’t change, and finding effective ways to deal with it.

Here is what it boils down to: intelligence does not reside only in your head. It’s also distributed throughout your body via your peripheral nervous system.

In fact, you have a HEART BRAIN which has its own intrinsic nervous system. The heart assesses safety and danger. It assesses the level of connection with others. It even forms and stores memories. 

Likewise, and even more importantly, you have a GUT BRAIN. It has the complexity and is the equivalent size of a cat’s brain. The gut has its own nervous system that acts largely independently of the brain; the gut “thinks for itself.” No other part of the nervous system can do this.

The gut influences the brain in the head far more than vice versa. It can learn, form memories, take on new behaviors and grow new neurons. So when your stomach starts to churn in the face of danger, or it flutters when you’re excited, those sensations are indications of its intelligence.

Think of the times when you just had a gut reaction, or followed your gut instincts…Long before neuroscientists could study the gut brain, we all knew it existed.

The whole peripheral nervous system is devoted to non-verbal, non-rational, non-analytical body-based processes. Your body has its own intelligence, and it has nothing to do with the functions of the brain in your head.

So if something is keeping you stuck, and traditional “understanding of the problem” isn’t changing anything, then the best way out is through your body.

Now, add to that the fact that your brain and nervous system are designed to keep you safe. And that you learn much about how to stay safe at a very early age. We call these core beliefs.

Core beliefs serve to keep you safe when you are young, but can get in our way as adults. It’s not okay to fail. People can’t be trusted. My ideas are not taken seriously.

These core beliefs are often irrational. You can KNOW they aren’t true in your frontal lobe, but still FEEL like they might be true in your limbic system. And we “feel” about half a second faster than we can “think something through.”

Remember core beliefs are often tied to the fear response, which includes shallow/chest breathing, or holding your breath. By thinking your old core belief over and over, you have created a strong neural pathway, and it’s tied to your sympathetic nervous system (fight, flight, freeze or fold). So any little fear that triggers that core belief, will slide lickety-split along that well-worn neural pathway, boosted by your fight or flight response.

But here’s the really good news. Because of neuroplasticity, you don’t have to be plagued by that core belief/neural pathway your whole life. In fact, much of the work I do with clients centers on forming a new neural pathway tied to your parasympathetic nervous system (tend and befriend, rest and digest). I take people through a simple five-step process that makes true transformation possible at the cellular level.

Curious to learn more? Let’s talk.