Thinking About Your Thinking

Whether it be finances, career, relationships or health, change requires us to be self-aware and think about our thinking.

Dr Jeffrey Schwartz is a neurophysiologist who has done extensive research into how the mind influences the brain. His research is about having awareness about awareness, known as metacognition

For most of us, we don’t stop to think about our thinking, but it is this very action that will enhance our ability to engage in the act of willful reframing.

This is what supports us to change. The act of willful reframing completely changes the way the brain responds to external stimuli, such as negative upsetting images. We need to consciously divert our attention from negative to positive to be more resourceful.

We need to refocus deliberately, which is the act of willfully reframing and takes us from reacting emotionally to responding thoughtfully. The mental act of focusing intention tends to hold in place brain circuits associated with whatever we are focused on.

What we pay attention to we get more of. Focusing attention on your mental experience maintains the brain state arising in association with that experience.


Whatever holds a person’s attention will influence what is happening in the brain.

Another researcher in this field, Benjamin Libet, did an experiment that looked at free will vs free won’t. His research is famous and looks at the relationship between brain activity and voluntary movement. It showed that it takes half a second between a brain signal and a voluntary response. After .3 of a second, there is the desire to move but it is the mind that decides in the final .2 of a second whether or not it will.

This moment in time is what he refers to as VETO POWER.

The desire does not determine that you must move – the mind decides whether to listen; you must activate the frontal cortex. We have no control in the short-term over the messages the brain sends out. We only have veto power over what we act on.


You only get one brain so it’s best to give it every opportunity you can to build strong positive neural pathways to override the limiting patterns of the past that no longer serve any positive purpose.

This Article was featured in issue 89 of Matters Magazine

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