This is the question I got recently from a client: Can you rewire my brain in 10 min? It left me a bit surprised, but only a little as I have by now got used to people asking unusual questions.
“I have surely seen the human mind growing and refining in clients, but I cannot see how you can actually rewire such a complex system in 10 minutes”, I replied.
The client went on to explain that he read about different techniques promoted online which he wanted to try. These situations are common in the therapy space. Clients come sometimes with (unrealistic) expectations which become real obstacles in their self-discovery, healing and personal growth journeys.
I have met clients who listened to my explanations but I also met others were too stuck in their mind programming and were looking for immediate and life changing results. In this instance, the client accepted my comments and used his judgement to assess how reasonable and achievable was a complete brain rewire in 10 min.
We spoke about the physical brain and the mind and we explored his understanding of their functioning. We both agreed that neuroplasticity is a reality that can can help us improve our lives, but when the client realised how much time he needed to learn to function that way, he accepted that a full mind makeover in 10 min would be simply impossible.
I wanted to get a sense of his needs and I asked him what fueled this desire to rewire his brain in 10 min and what was it for. The client confessed he wanted to be able to work more intensively to perform some massive changes in his executive role in a multinational company and also to sharpen his memory and concentration to finish his MBA in a very short period of time.
That was quite a high stake, but again not an unusual request. To be completely honest, I’ve seen it in me as well. I was there, so I understand it from the inside out.
We looked at his dreams and found that the client, a perceptive and open young man, discovered quite soon in the process that he did not need any of those objectives for himself, but wanted to impress his father who was a harsh, distant yet very successful business man.
I thought his drive was understandable providing his demanding family environment and we started working towards rewiring his brain. We spent much more than 10 minutes working together on that matter, but in the end the client achieved more than he came for.
Firstly, I introduced him to mindful living and daily sessions of meditation. This helped him become present to his inner experience and relax inside. Then we explored his mindset and how it developed and we searched to find out if his beliefs were still aligned with the man he was becoming at this stage of his life. He reconnected with his emotions and spirituality and addressed some of his unhealthy thinking patterns. Gradually the client gained more understanding around his behaviours and clarified his aspirations for the future.
On the way the client improved his self-esteem, confidence and sense of self and started to own his life and become authentic even in front of his father. Initially that brought some tension between them, but the client wanted to be himself and needed to feel free so he broke through his fear and did not allow his father to intimidate him anymore. It took the client a few good months to move through this process, but at the end he felt grounded within himself, he felt proud of his growth and his mental wellbeing improved significantly, making him feel happier and more excited about life.
I then supported him make a plan of action and get clarity around his professional objectives in his work and we tackled the procrastination in his MBA course which was rooted in his fear of failure instilled in him by the same demanding father. With patience and self-care, the client started to design his own life and live it well, in his own terms. This is a success story which I feel will extend its ripple effect outside in the outer world. The client is now interested in becoming a coach himself and I can see how his life experience will help others change their lives in the future.
It is now time to explore the learnings on my side. What is clear is that in any helping profession practitioners are faced with clients that expect outcomes they cannot offer. Sometimes, it is difficult for practitioners to say they cannot deliver what the clients request, but it is better to say no then to offer them a deceptive and short-lasting change. Real transformation requires time for reflection and understanding of our own development as well as healing, acceptance and forgiveness of the past. It requires time to find clarity and direction in the future and a new way of thinking and behaving in life. Through this expereince I learned one more time that we can definitely rewire our brains when we are willing to invest in our mental wellbeing, but there is another essential ingredient needed and that is patience.
Are you a patient person? Do you want to rewire your brain? If you have more than 10 min I am here waiting for you.