REWIRING YOUR BRAIN
Fundamentally I believe humans would rather not get angry, impatient or be in a negative headspace. Unfortunately in everyday life this can happen often throughout the day. With some determination and a great deal of self-awareness, we have the capacity to change.
When certain thoughts and behaviours are repeated neurons fire together creating a ‘neural pathway’. If you’re on the tube and it’s jam packed and you’re hot and people are pushing you, and your reaction is anger, that fires a series of neurons together. The first time you have a reaction to something you are laying down the foundation for that neural pathway. Each time you have the same reaction you are reinforcing the neural pathway and eventually it becomes very easy to have the same angry or negative response. In fact, the response is no longer a unique reaction to a unique stimulus, it is a habit. A well known phrase to describe this is ‘neurons that fire together wire together’.
The below explanation explains it clearly for us:
“Just think of your brain as a dynamic, connected power grid, with billions of roads and pathways lighting up every time you think, feel or do something. Some of these roads are well travelled. These are your habits; your established ways of thinking, feeling and doing. Every time you think in a certain way, practice a particular task, or feel a specific emotion, you strengthen this road, and it becomes easier for your brain to travel this pathway.”
Scientific research has now proven that we’re able to change the way we think. Where as previously it was thought that the adult mind was fixed and hard to change. Now it has been proven that we can alter our mind patterns by rewiring our neural pathways that regulate our emotions, thoughts, and reactions. This means we can create new neural pathways that lead us to compassion, gratitude, and joy instead of anxiety, fear and anger. With a great deal of awareness, mindfulness and acknowledgement of the present we can begin to reprogram our brain. But this is no easy task!
This process of rewiring your brain by forming new connections and weakening old ones is called “neuroplasticity”.
The brain is constantly adapting and rewiring itself. Our thoughts and behaviours influence this process. If we consciously change and adapt our thoughts and behaviours we can begin to rewire our brain to a more positive state. SO…..
How can we begin to change our neural pathways?
- INTENTION SETTING - think of a situation where your emotions are triggered and set an intention to change the way you react. Set positively phrased intentions (click here for more on intentions).
- VISUALISE - visualise the situation that triggers a negative reaction and then visualise yourself reacting different in that situation.
- PAUSE - when you feel your emotion bubbling. Stop. Pause. Connect To Breath. If we can find a moments pause before we react we can then consciously react to the situation, rather then habitually.
- COMPASSION - once you’ve paused put yourself in their shoes. If it is a person imagine what kind of day they could of had. You never know what someone else has gone through. Dig deep and practice compassion and find kindness for the situation and see how that changes your perspective.