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Dear Candy Q & A: Overfocusing on knowledge & comparing programs

Q: There is no one size fits all approach to brain retraining. DNRS recommends reading and learning as much as you can about the brain and neuroplasticity, like Rick Hanson, Dr. Joe Dispenza and so on. You sometimes name the work of Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz. Where is the line between a natural interest in learning the science behind it like DNRS recommends and an eventually limbic driven obsessive research on neuroplasticity and other programs from professionals in the field. Some buddies and groups are constantly analyzing several programs simultaneously. What do you recommend?

A: You're right. There is no one size fits all approach to brain retraining. Just like there is a diversity of people, there is a diversity of brain retraining programs that can ultimately lead to the same positive outcome, if understood and properly applied. This is wonderful because we can find one that most resonates with us and then wholeheartedly apply it in our lives. Underlying each and every program are the same basic principles of neuroplasticity and as such they all have the capacity to assist us in creating more wellbeing.

An understanding of the brain and neuroplasticity is important, as it provides the foundation for retraining. Without it, the tools don't necessarily make much sense and we are less likely to accurately and repetitively apply them. Doubt can start to creep in, which then sabotages our efforts and slows recovery.

That being said, once we have an understanding of how the brain works and of neuroplasticity, it is time to shift our main focus to actually applying the tools. For those who are fascinated by the brain and love to keep learning about it they can, so long as it doesn't replace or take away from applying the retraining. All of the understanding in the world will not change your brain if you don't regularly and repeatedly apply the program. While an enhanced understanding can support the retraining process, it can also become a hindrance. Overanalyzing programs and spending a bunch of time comparing and contrasting them is a pop or automatic negative thought (ANT). It is a way the limbic system keeps you from doing what it is that you need to do in order to move forward. In the same way, excessively researching the brain and neuroplasticity is also a pop/ant. Both of these things are keeping you stuck in your head while reinforcing the pathways you are trying to undo. Knowledge alone is not going to get you better. If you have these pops/ants, I encourage you to make a decision to stop overanalyzing and gathering more information and instead focus on cultivating your curious observer, redirecting your brain, and elevating your emotions.

There is also a danger in making brain retraining (and all the nuances that go with it) the entire focus of your life. In my experience, one of the groups of people that have the hardest time recovering are those who make the program their whole identity and who spend all their time gathering relevant knowledge. In a sense they become an "expert" intellectually, but are unable to get better because they are not embodying the learning and understanding that they have gathered. Their energy and efforts are not going towards building the life that they want. This is a form of perfectionism and several other pops/ants. It is often driven by unhelpful core beliefs around self worth and not being good enough.

All of the brain retraining programs are designed to get you back to having more quality of life. The tools are a stepping stone or platform that enable you to start to engage more with the things that bring meaning and value into your life, that fill you up and feed your soul. The primary focus should be on how you want your life to be, what you want to include or do more of, and incremental training to bring more of those things into your life. The tools simply help you get there. They are meant to offer a supporting role rather than being the main character in your story.

Until next time!

If you have a question, please email me at


Candy Widdifield is Registered Clinical Counsellor, Wellness Coach, and Registered Reiki Master Teacher in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. She works with people all over the world, helping them to optimize their wellbeing and thrive in their lives. Her modalities include coaching, therapy, Reiki and the Safe & Sound Protocol. More information about Candy can be found at


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