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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and have lived in and around Palo Alto since 1969. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background i...  (More)

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Our Own Quirks

Uploaded: Jan 17, 2014
My teenager said recently that he wants a girlfriend who is smart, funny, and okay with her own quirks.

How many of us are okay with our quirks? At what age did this happen? Has it happened yet?

Our quirks are part of what make us unique and lovable. We all have genetic dispositions, but the latest research shows that "nurtured nature" actually determines who we are. This is the good news.

We can learn to love and appreciate our own quirks, and to change the things about ourselves that we want to. The latter may mean doing things we don't want to do, and then doing them over and over to rewire our brain.

The latest in neuroscience tells us that women's brains mature at age 25 and men's at age 30. This explains a lot! These are the ages when risk aversion comes online, plus the ability to better manage our emotional states in conjunction with bringing our thoughts and logic to bear on difficult situations.

Our brains are "plastic," meaning we can and do continue to change and grow over our lifetime. Who we spend time with matters; we are changed and "regulated" by those we surround ourselves with.

Just as we had to study in school over time (vs. cramming) to learn a subject, our brain makes and keeps neural connections the more we do the same things. In order to take care of ourselves, we have to keep at the activities and behaviors that make our lives healthier and happier.

Similarly, in our brain, the things we don't do get pared away. The idea of lose it or use it is quite apt when it comes to connections in the brain.

Considering and evaluating our quirks is like shining a flashlight in on our personality traits. Let's take away the scary, dark shadows, and bring ourselves into the light of day. Remember, we need our traits and quirks; it's how loud and in what situations we use them that makes all the difference. For example, on the same continuum, we can be harsh and abrasive or we can be assertive and stand up for what we believe is right.

Here's a toast to quirks!

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