Every day we create new habits and confirm existing ones. What do your habits of behaviour and habits of thinking say about you? It can be truly motivating to recognise that we have the ability to re-wire our own brains. Recent research into brain neuroplasticity has given us an opportunity to recognise we don't have to live with limiting thoughts and beliefs that can hold us back. We can retrain our brains. The tools to achieve significant change can be at our fingertips. We all have the opportunity to achieve significant changes in our lives.
Consider some steps you can take to rewire your brain to live the life you desire:
1. Manage your thoughts
When we change our thoughts, we can begin to rewire our brains to see the world in new and different ways. This WILL take time, effort and intention but it is achievable. Think of it like any new task you want to learn. Just like learning to ride a bike – in the beginning it takes a lot of concentration and effort but over time it gets easier and easier. Sometimes you may feel like giving up because you feel you are never going to master it and then something just clicks and you keep moving forward. Repetition and consistency are the keys. Then with practise you can ride that bike with virtually no effort. When we repeat new ways of thinking, at first it takes significant effort, but over time it becomes who we are – and the benefits are enormous.
Your ability to let go of these negative thoughts is dependent on your ability to change unhelpful beliefs. Consider some of the negative thinking you may engage in:
“No one listens to me anyway.”
“Why do I bother?”
“I might as well not try, I know I will fail”
“No one will like me”
When we replace these thoughts with more realistic and empowering opportunities- we start to rewire our brains.
Consider as well some of the behaviours you engage in that could be self-limiting. Do you keep yourself really busy in the kitchen at parties so you can limit the scary social butterfly interactions required of you as host? There are no words being articulated, but your behaviour can speak volumes about some deep beliefs you may have been holding onto about yourself and others.
To help uncover unhelpful beliefs, it may help to ask yourself:
How does this thought/behaviour make me feel?
What would things be like if I didn’t hold this belief or behaviour?
What caused me to believe this in the ﬁrst place?
How does this belief guide my actions and choices now?
Is this thought reasonable?
What would the result look like if my thoughts and behaviour was different?
Once you’ve been able to establish the negative thought or behaviour, you are ready to begin shifting it and replacing it with a new, more realistic and functional beliefs.
2. Relaxation and Mindful Activity
When our brains are constantly engaged in self-critical thinking it can be exhausting. To help break the cycle, we need to give our brains a REST. One option to consider is Meditation and Mindfulness. Try an App called Mindful Creation, or there’s a good free one called ‘Smiling Mind’ with some very short ones which can be good for starting out.
But we can also engage in our own mindful activity to quieten a racing brain. How about gardening, or cooking, or playing games, playing sport, taking the dog for a walk or watching a favourite movie. Give your brain a rest.
Engaging in mindfulness will help to quieten your mind and eventually enable you to observe your thoughts and feelings, rather than being a slave to them. It also gives your ‘busy’ brain some restful time. Don’t worry too much if you find it hard to stay focussed when you first start, that’s ok. Try not to judge yourself – AGAIN. Rather just keep going. It will get easier – just like riding a bike.
3. Set goals
Setting goals can be a very positive and rewarding practice. But remember, a goal is just a dream until you write it down.
We are twice as likely to achieve a goal if we think about it.
We are three times as likely to achieve a goal if we write it down.
We are five times as likely to achieve a goal if we put action steps in place.
We are seven times as likely to achieve a goal if we tell others about our goals to keep us on track.
Dopamine is a chemical we release every time we experience a reward. Your dopamine system is reliant upon goal setting and achievement. When dopamine is released into the part of your brain responsible for positive rewards, you are essentially motivated to repeat this occurrence. When you set goals and accomplish them, you and your brain are rewarded (Mehta, 2013).
Consider your goal setting opportunities and the chance for self-motivation.
It may sound simple. But laughter is often the best medicine. How often do you laugh at yourself? How often do you seek out reasons to laugh and watch a funny movie, have fun with friends etc?
The experience of positive emotion leads to novel thoughts, activities and relationships, which in turn provides more personal resources, such as social support, improved skills and resilience to overcome obstacles.
All of these options take energy and effort. But think of the benefits. Thanks to the new understanding now given to us by neuroscience and brain plasticity research, we now know it is possible to rewire our brain!
Need some assistance with rewiring,
Contact Michelle Bakjac at Bakjac Consulting on 0412047590