Neuroplasticity studies show that your brain actually grows and changes throughout your entire life, adjusting to your environment, lifestyle and emotions.
Practising something intensely, creates stronger neural pathways but it was once believed that the brain remained static and only changed during critical development periods of your life. Now scientists have even proved that new neurons can be created; It would seem that repetition can help you on your way to becoming an expert.
When I lost my eye over 11 years ago, my vision was impacted dramatically.
It was like I had a big brick wall going through the centre of my head, where shadows cast from the side of my nose. A big black hole lingering around my left hand side and no matter how far I turned my head around and at what speed, it would never disappear.
To my left, I had normal vision, could see everything as usual but found myself focusing more ahead and to the right than usual, in order to make up for my impairment.
I never imagined that this would alter in any way. Every morning, I would wake up and open my eyes, only to quickly squeeze them closed again so tightly, in the hope that when I opened them slowly for the second time, my vision would be back in the perfect order it was, before I was glassed.
My blind spot was overwhelmingly large and I began to wonder, if I was in for a lifetime of bumping and bashing my way through what seemed like a continuous obstacle course.
Friends and family questioned after walking around for an hour or so, covering their right eye, how it would be possible to do the things that I have always done so naturally, like drive, ice skate and so much more. I never questioned it for a moment but I knew it would be a long road of learning and adapting again.
My company car was taken away from me but after much fight, it was replaced with a pool car of less value. I put myself onto a mobility driving course to prove to everyone, as well as myself, that I could drive safely again, for as long as I adapted to my current situation and drove with caution, making sure I was extra vigilant at all times. My awareness grew, as did my confidence when I was greeted again with my car.
A few years later, it became apparent that my vision had actually altered. My brain had adapted to my lack of sight on my right hand side and had remarkably re-wired itself in response to my loss. My vision had become stronger on the left hand side to compensate for the right.
My peripheral vision had improved, resulting in me being able to see a much wider space with just the one eye, lessening my blind spot. What had felt like a ‘dead side’ now felt more alive.
I purposely refused to have a prosthetic lens made in the early days because I had a deep sense of belief, that if my eye had any chance of seeing again, covering it up would be giving up. The eye would no longer have a need to see, when all that stands in front is darkness. The extent of the damage meant that it would have been a medical miracle for me to ever have sight again but I was not prepared to take the chance and give up. Unfortunately, my power of belief couldn’t give me all my sight back but my appreciation for the sight I did have and the positive attitude I had adopted throughout my learning curve, meant a speedy recovery in getting the life I once knew back on track.
My spatial awareness improved drastically as my brain adapted and did what it needed to do to make optimum use of the recourses it had. I was able to drive as before, skate as before, dance like I used to and be in the centre of busy places again with ease. We are incredible.
The point of this story, is to prove to you, just how we can improve and become great at what we do, with not only a passion and determination but a relentless dedication and will.
Even if it is a new skill we are learning, like another language or instrument, so many of us have real potential to become an expert over time. As our brains build new pathways and our current pathways adapt. We may think that we are just not good enough or can never get to that level we can only dream of but in fact, for the majority of us, we have the opportunity with practise and determination. The public speaker only gets better and less nervous with repetition, the guitarist only plays that ballad with dedication and a commitment to learn. This applies to all fields in life; Happiness with the repetition of positive attitude, getting that promotion or new job, practising your interviewing techniques, reading and writing and the list goes on.
I have now had my prosthetic lens for years and years and have even been able to perfectly match my make-up on both eyes, yes it’s true, the simple things can be the hardest sometimes in life and need perfecting first, before you know it, you have the confidence to fully apply.