Author: Alex O’Neill

What if the work we were here to do was greater than we have ever imagined?

Our bodies are a vessel for finding our way to others on the earth who will celebrate us, connect with us, and help us create something great. We may at any point only have a tiny inkling, like a whisper, of what that greatness might be, which we easily dismiss and brush away as nonsense. Or we might have a burning desire and passion, a solid knowing that you are destined to create something, but you don’t know how to create it or where to start, it seems too big and too crazy. We must listen to both of these, the quiet whispers and the burning desires. They are both true, and they are messages we must take heed of to live our truest potential.

So how to turn this whisper into a shout? How to unblock the barriers that halt our flood of energy that we want to throw into something we desire so much? It’s all in the brain.

As tiny babies, our brains develop at an amazing rate as we learn to navigate the world both physically and mentally. We have desires to move, to communicate, and to learn. And we are encouraged at every step to do that in the way that fits our cultures and our families. If we are brought up in a loving and connected home, we will develop these skills quickly and in a positive way. But no matter how wonderful our upbringing is, there will be neural paths created in our brains as we grow that are not supportive of where we want and need to go in our lives – neural pathways that tell us that we oughtn’t go in a particular direction, that we should keep quiet when we want to shout, or we should behave in a way that suits others rather than ourselves. This is a natural, human desire to create order and control and, as adults, try to teach our own understanding of what has kept us alive and “safe” for so long to our young children so that they can stay alive and safe too.

However, these neural pathways don’t necessarily always work for us. As we grow older and find our own ways in the world, they may become outdated and not make sense anymore. They may lead us down paths that we don’t want to go, or may in fact bring us closer towards danger rather than safety. Our parents desire for us to stay in the tribe by behaving like everyone else may eventually end up in us trying to fit into a crowd where we don’t belong, and feeling the desperation and depression that comes with that. We may have learned that staying slim and having fresh-looking skin means being healthy and accepted, but this may become an obsession with weight or painting ourselves in ways that don’t represent who we are inside.

So as we grow older, we need to refine our pathways, adjust them and change them so they work for the new us who emerges. Our brains will do their very utmost to keep us safe in our old ways and habits, as they have kept us safe for so long, but now is the time to change up our behaviours and our thinking and use the neuroplasticity of our brain to create new ways for us to behave and think.

Let’s go back to that little whisper… How could you fan the flame of this desire? It needn’t be life-changing, just a little extra waft of something, a little different to what you normally do each day. An extra 10 minutes here, a new connection there, a brave little step. Take time to add fuel to that fire and grow it and see where it goes.

What about that burning ball of desire? How do we unleash that? Imagine there is a brick wall in front of your flood of passion, you need to start picking out one brick at a time. What are the biggest things that block you? Don’t have enough time? Give yourself an extra 10 minutes a day, or one hour a week. Feeling like you’re never going to be good enough? Write down one thing that you are great at, notice the change in how you feel when you remember that. As you pick bricks out that are blocking this path, the structural integrity of the wall will weaken, and eventually will crumble. Go slow, do it a bit at a time, the downfall will come.

Each small change we make in our lives is one tiny neural network change that will build you up to who you want to be, who you truly are. The more we strengthen these pathways, the easier they are to continue following and the sooner your tiny whisper or your burning desire will become reality.

For inspiration, ideas on how to turn your dreams into reality, and an understanding of how our brain underlies what we do in our lives, check out Alex’s Limitless podcast at

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