Your Plastic Brain
Your brain can change. It is influenced minute-by-minute by the 60,000 thoughts that flow through on a daily basis. Pathways have been laid down and strengthened from birth, and perhaps even before while you were still in the womb. They create memories that you don't even consciously realize you're accessing to get things done and move through the world. These memories are helpful in certain situations in which you don't want to have to access a certain memory to complete a task, like riding a bike, but they can also drive behaviors unconsciously as well. Can you think of one "weird" thing you do in response to stress and wonder why you do it after it happens?
If your thoughts are focused in a particular direction or you ask a question in a certain way rest assured that your super smart brain will find an answer to confirmation whatever it is you're seeking. This can strengthen the pathways that exist. This is problematic when it comes to the untrue, unhealthy and/or unsupportive beliefs you have about yourself. Think about the positive or negative things you are repeating to yourself? What type of belief has this well-journeyed path created?
Studies have shown that there are simple practices you can implement to help you rehab your brain. You can move out of an old groove or way of being that keeps you stuck or engaging in harmful behaviors. When you do this you can begin to shift out of mood states that keep you feeling anxious or depressed, you can improve your self-esteem, ability to concentrate, sleep, memory, overall well-being, and management of chronic pain.
How can you change the structure of your brain starting today?
1) Set an intention. This could be as simple as paying attention to your breath, an element in your surroundings, or to washing the dishes in the present moment.
2) Become aware of the thoughts and behaviors you do automatically or reactively, without pausing to consider a more appropriate response.
3) Pause and come back to your intention over and over and over again. Each time you circle back you are strengthening a new pathway in your brain.
4) Release any judgment or criticism. The goal is not to have less of a certain feeling, but instead to be with it as it is in this moment. Be curious and release yourself from the pressure of expectations. Overtime, the new pathway will form and you'll find you're less responsive to an old way of thinking or being.