I see it every week: A woman comes into my office with a vague sense of discontent. Her life is going fairly well but something is… missing. She considers changing careers, worries about the longevity of her intimate relationship and is struggling to take better care of herself.

She often feels “stuck,” but is not sure why.

She thinks she is coming to see me for support in rearranging her external life: accomplishing her goals, making a plan for a new career or venture and  getting some accountability for changes in diet and exercise.

As we work together, she discovers some core thoughts and beliefs that lead directly to her feelings of dissatisfaction. Before she changes jobs or leaves her husband, she needs to change her thinking.

New research backs up a basic principle of coaching: Changing your thinking patterns literally leads to changes in the brain, positively impacting emotional health.

Time Magazine’s recent article, “How The Brain Rewires Itself,” looks at several studies on the amazing “neuroplasticity,” the ability to change structure and function based on experience in the human adult brain.

“The brain can change as a result of the thoughts we think, as with Pascual-Leone’s virtual piano players. This has important implications for health: something as seemingly insubstantial as a thought can affect the very stuff of the brain, altering neuronal connections in a way that can treat mental illness or, perhaps, lead to a greater capacity for empathy and compassion. It may even dial up the supposedly immovable happiness set point.”

Most of my clients find that once they shift their thinking, their external reality changes as well.

But, it happens more naturally and easily in response to the inner changes. After they “change their minds,” they typically have a greater sense of clarity about what they really want!