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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How We Define Who We Are

I think we can all recall a time in our either distant or recent past when we wished someone would have been there for us in the way we needed. Maybe we needed to be reminded of our worth, or that the experience we were having had more to do with the environment that we were in versus some deficit in our character or abilities. Regardless, chances are, we were left to sink or swim on our own, and this had the potential to influence how we saw ourselves and the world from that point on.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that the brain is always rewiring itself, and if defining who we are (versus being defined by the people and situations that we encounter) is important enough, we can have a tremendous amount of influence on our experience of life going forward.

Of course, in order to be successful, we need to understand how to do this, and those who follow my “Life from the Top of the Mind” philosophy know that this means understanding how the brain processes information and how this affects our experience of life. For example, all information first enters the brain through the middle brain, or limbic system. This is necessary so that if our lives are being threatened, we can react without thinking to either fight or escape.

However, given that few, if any, of the situations that we encounter are truly life-threatening, this tendency for the middle brain to misinterpret negative information as dangerous and throw us into the lower, unconscious part of the brain that deals with danger (the brainstem) is problematic. Why? Because when this happens, we have little to no influence in the process, and are, therefore, at the mercy of any old, fear based beliefs that may have been formed in our past.

What we want is to access the upper 80% of the brain (the neocortex, what I call the “Top of the Mind,” because this is where we can make more purposeful decisions about who we are. In other words, rather than being defined by the negative situations or people whom we encounter (difficult people make me angry, traffic makes me crazy, etc.), we can define ourselves on purpose, and in doing so, eventually access our clarity, confidence, and creativity, regardless of the situation.

Of course, this assumes that we know who we want to be, and that’s why I love this quote from Nikita Gill. She says:

• Be the kind of person who isn’t afraid to ask someone if they are okay if you ask them twice, if they say they are, but look like they aren’t.
• Be the kind of person who smiles at people even if they don’t smile back.
• Be the kind of person who is brave enough to stand alone in a crowd for what is right.

And my favorite:

• Be the kind of person you wished for when no one was there for you.

All of this reminds me of another quote that I use a lot in my seminars and books from Neale Walsch. He says, “Every thought, emotion, and action defines who we are and who we are becoming.” This fits with the latest brain science that speaks to the concept of neuroplasticity as the brain’s ability to create and sustain new neural connections throughout our life span.

Therefore, if we can make purposeful choices about who we are at our best, now and going forward, we will have the conscious, proactive part of the brain (the Top of the Mind) defining who we are. Then, if we are willing to commit to practicing those qualities and characteristics on a regular basis… anything we practice eventually becomes a habit therefore, the unconscious middle brain soon will adopt the new belief that we can bring our best to any situation versus being “made to feel” one way or another.

In other words, we will have rewired the brain to allow us to be the person in the present and future that we may have wished for in the past. However, the process of becoming will no longer be driven by wishes, but by our willingness and our will… the willingness to learn how the brain works, and the will to become skilled at influencing this process in a way that we would recommend to someone we love. Then, we will not only become skilled at being there for ourselves, but maybe even being there for someone else who needs someone to be there for them.

~ All the best, Dr. Bill

Dr. Crawford's Info Packet

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