Carving out the cango caves

The wet smell of the Cango Caves brings back childhood memories. At the age of 21, the adventurous atmosphere in the cave is still slightly overwhelming. The ‘secret’ passages, tunnels and pathways lead one to visualise adventurers and their majestic discoveries. It feels like you are walking in the footprints of the brave man who first entered the cave, but the climbing and crawling is easier now because of the carved pathways done by thousands of explorers each year. This experience reminds me of a specific Psychiatric class our fourth year medical students attended recently.

It is a proven fact that every emotion we experience is preceded by a thought. We sometimes try to control our emotions directly without realising that it is easier to control our thoughts. A thought leads to an emotion which influences our behaviour. When you think about it like that; your thoughts can essentially become either destructive or constructive.

Cognitive behavioural therapy is used to treat disorders like anxiety, phobias, depression and addiction. Our brains are amazing organs. They physically change minute by minute; whenever you learn or think of something new, you are forming brand new neuronal pathways. This constant ‘change’ is called brain plasticity. Any new activity literally shapes the brain.

It is easy for us to have defective thought processes and at the same time ‘wire’ these thoughts into our brains. The most common one’s are;

  • Having absolute thoughts; “I can’t…” or “I’ll never be able to…”
  • Generalisation; “No one likes Me.” or “Everyone thinks I’m a failure.”
  • We could even catastrophise; “It is unbearable.”
These ‘wrong’ thoughts get ‘wired’ into the brains of some over a period of time. They can cause an intense emotional reaction every time they cross our minds. We are however able to ‘re-wire’ those pathways by correcting our thought processes by rather saying things like; “It might be difficult to…” or “Some people don’t like me.” Cognitive behavioural therapy doesn’t only have to be used in people with phobias or anxiety; anyone can use it to their advantage.

Change your thought processes, stop yourself when you are thinking negatively and ‘re-wire’ your neuronal pathways. Carve your own Cango Cave and make it easier for yourself to climb and crawl through life’s beautiful adventures.