Baring Things in Mind (Part One)

brain in handIntroduction

Sorry for being a bit late with this month’s post. I’ve been a bit extra tired lately. Fatigue struck again.

A couple of months ago I spoke about a three stage way of looking at the human brain. You can click here to revisit it. Neuroscientist, Paul MacLean proposed it. It’s all about how the human brain evolved and names the three stages “Lizard”, “Mammalian” and “Neo-cortex”.

I relate it to Nero-Linguistic Programming. It helps keeps things simple. It shows how sensing, behaving and thinking can be understood in an N.L.P. way too.

Having a brain injury does not make us less human, dispossessed of a personality. It may impair our emotional and cognitive qualities in some ways, but so does lack of sleep and a heavy cold. Age and experience too, influence our ability to recall and be skilful.

(In her 80s, my nan confused what she did her day before with what she did in her today. But she clearly remembered my great-nan hanging her “britches” on the washing line the day World War Two was declared. Nan had no brain injury.)knickers

What I’m saying is this: The stuff I’m going to go through now and in the coming couple of months or so can be useful, whatever.

How? First and foremost I’m going to touch base with everything that is tangible – limit my attention to the five senses and what they feed back to us.

Sensory Inventory

A client I counselled some time ago expressed a loss of connection with the world around him – of being “in a bubble ” with his hallucinations. On good days he coped. But even then, it was with a loss of feeling. (This was touch, not just emotional.) And, as always, his memory “wasn’t brilliant”.

He was curious to know why some things stuck in his mind and others didn’t.

We revisited his most recent memory – the one that most seemed real to him. This we did in terms of “Sight”; “Sound”; “Smell”; “Touch” and “Taste”.

A whiteboard helped. I asked the client to place a 1st to 5th value on each of the senses. 1st was the most prized, 5th was the least. Together we then re-wrote the list in his order of preference.

Next we unpicked the memory he had described to me (a pub meal with his family) in relation to his list. Taste was something he appreciated most. He remembered the smell of flowers. The level of sound had made a difference. He had been in the beer garden.  The band that was playing was inside…

This was his sensory inventory.

Doing a sensory inventory in this way can help in more than one way.

  • It can help tell what in particular it is about something that stops it being forgotten so soon. Or remembered for a long time.
  • It can help touch base with what matters most.
  • It can help give ideas about how best to create positive experiences.

N.B: By the way, negative experiences are just as powerful. When it comes to baring things in mind, it’s our bodies and emotions that do the sticking.

For those of you doing A Levels, here is a Youtube snippet I came across that sums it up nicely. If technical gobble-di-gook just confuses you, you can always watch with the sound down. The diagram is clear enough.

Take care for now.


One thought on “Baring Things in Mind (Part One)

  1. Sean, it’s taken me a while to sit down and dedicate some time to myself, without interruption to read your latest blog. Thank you for reminding me about the sensory inventory. I remember you introducing it to me in a cogwheels session at work sometime ago. I must use it more often… 👋


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