from the


from the Top of the Mind


from the
Top of the Mind

“Dr. Crawford’s presentation was the highlight of the conference and a much needed reminder for all of us (especially nurses) to keep it all balanced. Bill’s psychology background surely protruded through his messages and I know it was well-received by all!”

Nancy Perovic, RN, BSN
University Of Chicago Hospitals, Chicago, IL

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Change Your Brain – Change Your Life

When I have the opportunity to talk with people, either as a speaker or a psychologist, one thing that always seems to make a huge impact on them is information on how our brain influences so much of our lives, and how we can become more influential in this process. Therefore, I thought I would use this week’s quote, comment, and video to speak in more detail about how to make this happen.

As the quote suggests, it all starts with a willingness to change our minds. This means we will want to discover what sort of “mindset” we have about specific situations and types of people, and determine whether this state of mind or perspective is indeed serving us. For example, if we see traffic as annoying, or difficult people as aggravating, or certain situations as stressful or frustrating, then this mindset will determine how we experience these situations in the future.

If stressed, frustrated, annoyed, or aggravated isn’t how we want to experience life, we must either ensure we never deal with these types of people and situations ever again, or change our mind about whether we really want to give them the power to make us feel this way.

Obviously, I’m a fan of the latter. However, this change of mind is easier said than done. That’s because we have been thinking this way for quite some time, and these thoughts have shaped the physiological make-up of our brain. You see, whenever we think, feel, or do anything, we create and/or reinforce what is known as a neural pathway in our brain. These pathways are like a path through a field of grain. Go down it once, and it may be hard to find again. However, if we go down this pathway again and again, it becomes wide, well worn, easy to find, and easy to go down. That’s why it’s so easy to become stressed, anxious, and frustrated by certain situations and certain types of people.

Most of the pathways that lead to stress, worry, frustration, annoyance, etc., go from our limbic system, or the middle brain just behind the eyes, to the brainstem, or the lower brain called the brainstem. What we want to do is create new neural pathways that go from our limbic system up to the upper 80% of our brain, the neocortex.

In other words, if we want to change our experience of life around traffic, difficult people, difficult situations, etc., we must first change our mind about them, because it is this old mindset that has created and reinforced our old “limbic system to brainstem” neural pathways.

We must first recognize that we will indeed find ourselves dealing with these situations in the future and then determine how we want to think, feel, and act when this happens. This is an important shift from the mindset of worrying about the problem to first imagining and then creating a solution… in a way that doesn’t require the outside world to change.

~ All the best, Dr. Bill

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