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When I was young, I learned that our brain develops until the age of 18 and then begins the irreversible process of deterioration. It disturbed me for many years but I wasn’t sure what I could do about it.

In the last few years it’s become clear, scientifically speaking, that it’s not true. The brain develops throughout life if given a chance. Curiosity, interest and enthusiasm are the keys here, combined with deep honesty.

I’ve often noticed that positive change happens very quickly when I face reality or face the truth about my life. For example, if I pretend I’m happy and my life is amazing when it’s not, nothing much changes. I can study personal development, say daily affirmations, meditate and do all kinds of other things, but if I’m in denial of my underlying state, the effort is frustratingly limited.

But if I simply admit that I”m not happy, as a fact not an emotional drama, things soon begin to shift in ways I wouldn’t have expected. It’s strange and was very unexpected at first, but as soon as I opened up the gap, life poured into it.

So a fundamental requirement for true change is deep honesty. If you’re dissatisfied with any part of your life don’t pretend everything’s fine because you’ll keep it in place. Instead take the blinkers off and look at what’s really going on.  Whether it’s your body, your relationship or your finances, which are all areas where we tend to lie to ourselves, have a really honest look at it.  The moment you admit to yourself that there’s something wrong, it starts to change. Nature abhors a vacuum.

There’s one very important point here. It’s essential to be factual in your honesty. If you create an emotional drama out of the problem you will make things worse not better.

For example, if you don’t have enough money to pay your bills and you want to change the situation it’s most effective to get calm and find out all the facts. Have a look at how much you owe. Check how much is coming in. Look at any other sources of money. Even if there is a clear shortfall avoid panic and simply let the facts show themselves. Even sit with them for a few days and see what happens.

What many people do in this situation is to panic and get very upset and worry a lot. This fills up your head with a very fixed idea about your situation – that it’s a disaster. The way life works is that it then has to keep the disaster going and so things get worse, not better.

If you’re calm and open, solutions are likely to arise. You can start to ask questions of yourself and other people, like How can I make more money? How can I reduce these bills? How can I manage the payments? How can I find a better paid job? What can I offer to someone else that they might want to pay me for? As you ask questions like this you will gradually find solutions. And this is the way your brain learns new tricks in challenging situations.

Some people have the exact opposite problem. They tend to be pessimistic, rather than optimistic. If that’s you, nothing is right and you have no problem admitting it to yourself and others. You never pretend that things are good when they’re not. But you’re always ready to focus on what’s not working well.

The thing is this is also not honest. Life is never all bad, just as it’s never all good. So the same advice holds true. Step back and look honestly at the facts. Admit to yourself what’s working well without pretending that everything is wrong. Be more truthful about your life. You will see it start to change in a very natural way.

Honesty is a trigger for positive change and it’s effortless. See it clearly and it immediately improves.

So if you want to learn something new it’s never too late. First of all get honest with yourself and watch the change happen.