The Brain is Resilient, Too

Growth and Healing

Copyright 2009, Pamela Woll

The good news is that the brain is programmed to keep us alive and functioning.  The even better news is that the brain is also programmed to keep itself alive and functioning.

It’s true that experiences of stress, threat, and trauma can change the way the brain makes and uses certain chemicals, and the way some of the brain parts react and talk to one another.  And if we ignore these changes and keep on doing things the way we’ve been doing them, our challenges can get worse over time instead of better, and harder to deal with as time passes.

But if we take steps to build our resilience, those steps can also repair much of the trouble that our experiences have “written” on the brain.  Three of the brain’s many magic tricks are particularly powerful:
  • “Neurogenesis” is the brain’s ability to repair some neurons (brain cells) that have been damaged, and in some cases actually make new neurons.
  • “Neuroplasticity” is the brain’s ability to “rewire” and find new ways to do things when the old ways have been blocked by damage, or when repeated bad experiences have worn negative thought and feeling patterns in the brain like grooves on an old record album.
  • “Learning” sounds a lot less glamorous than those other two, but it’s a huge strength.  Just as post-trauma effects are written in the brain through a learning process, so are hope and joy and resilience.