Have you ever taken out a necklace only to find it is tangled into knots? That usually happens because you just chuck the jewelry into the box at the end of the night and them quickly rummage through to find what you want the next morning.
What do you do when you have to deal with tangles? I know you don’t expect the tangle to just miraculously vanish. If you are like me you start at one end and unravel one knot at a time (a little baby powder helps!). Eventually the necklace is a smooth chain again, and it’s ready to do its job and shine.
The brain is the same way. We tend to chuck thoughts into our brains and expect new thoughts to come out untangled and pure when we need them. In reality, it takes a little work to make sure the brain is ready to shine.
Repeated behaviors and thoughts become hardwired into our brains, allowing us to coast through some tasks while hardly thinking about them at all. The downside is that negative thought patterns can become hardwired too. But don’t worry – you can change the wiring in your brain!
Scientists have come to realize that each of us is the architect of our brains. God created us as incredibly complex beings, but He didn’t set our plans in stone. So with a little work, you can actually begin to change thoughts and behaviors that are holding you back, causing you stress, or hurting your relationships.
Let’s take a quick look at the science behind re-wiring our brains. Neuroplasticity is the formal name. This refers your brain’s ability to reorganize itself throughout your life. This happens due to environmental stimuli, your behavior and that of others around you, your thoughts, and your emotions. What’s really amazing is that the brain can rewire itself both physically and functionally!
Our son, Graham, suffered severe brain damage due to spinal meningitis. We were told he would exist in an almost vegetative state without the ability to speak, see, hear, or walk. But through God’s grace and His amazing design, that was not the case. Graham’s brain was able to rewire around those damaged areas and today he is able to not only speak, he raps! He actually serves on the security team at our church!
If his brain can rewire to give him back basic functions lost to illness, imagine what your brain can do if you work to change your thoughts!
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once said, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” Your brain is capable of more than you can imagine, all you have to do is visualize it. Because when you visualize a new process, you materialize that process in your life.
Dr. Michael Merzenich, explains in his book, Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life, “Whatever the circumstances of a child’s early life, and whatever the history and current state of that child, every human has the built-in power to improve, to change for the better, to significantly restore and often to recover. Tomorrow, that person you see in the mirror can be a stronger, more capable, livelier, more powerfully centered, and still-growing person.”
So how do you make these changes? Well the first thing is to actually get up and move. It may seem counterproductive, when your thought process is what you want to change, but movement actually helps. According to Christopher Bergman, moderate to vigorous physical activity is one of the most effective ways to stimulate neurogenesis.
Changing Your Thoughts
One way you can rewire your brain is to use motivation. In other words, you are moving toward a specific goal. First you need to define your goal in positive terms. Make sure every step is moving toward something, not away from it.
So if your goal is to change your thoughts about your body while losing weight, your goals would be to eat healthy, become more physically active, and to actively think positive thoughts about yourself. Compliment yourself in some way. Once you’ve come up with your plan, write it down, and remember that everything should be positive. The language you use can absolutely affect your results.
You are changing your thoughts by saying what you do want, instead of what you don’t want. The goal is to edit negative words out of your vocabulary and your thoughts. Focus on what you want to happen not what you want to avoid. Be POSITIVE. Never focus on what you don’t want, because if you do then that is what you will create instead!
Remember that your energy flows where your attention goes.
Marisa Peer, a psychologist and bestselling author, says, “If you haven’t got what you want, it is because you are not communicating correctly with your mind … the brain does what it thinks you want so you have to be very careful when telling your brain what you want.” Don’t be afraid to empower yourself! Think and use phrases such as: “I want to do it,” “I’m choose this,” “I’m going to succeed at this,” and “I love doing this.” Put yourself in a position of positive control.
If you believe that you can do something, you will!
Let me repeat that. If you believe that you can do something, you will! There have been times in my life when I didn’t do something I really wanted to just because I thought I couldn’t. Not believing can lead to regret! Just embracing this one attribute can change your life in unimaginable ways. You need to visualize the change you want, and make sure you use your senses as our senses trigger activity within the brain. Remember – only dwell upon the END result.
- See your hands wrapping around the steering wheel of your new car while you smell that new car smell.
- Picture how your new dress will look, and how great you will feel after you’ve lost the weight you want to lose.
- Imagine what it will feel like to walk down the aisle holding your groom’s hand as everyone applauds your happy day.
- Visualize what work will be like after you get that big promotion and imagine the satisfaction you will feel.
Make sure you’re detailed and precise in what you visualize. When you talk about what you want, make sure you use descriptive and powerful words. Engage your senses with sensory words, which are more powerful because they engage more areas of your brain.
If you use words describing taste or texture, the parts of your brain that would process those senses actually become active. This idea is often used by athletes because it is so effective. Imagining your positive outcome will help guarantee your success!
I want to stress again that whatever you put in your mind is what it believes and reproduces. So be positive, be powerful, and be an instrument of your own change. So what changes are you going to make to the wiring in your brain? I know you can do this! All you have to do is want it.
It’s the positive FEELING that helps create the change. So how bad do you WANT change?
Christopher Bergland, “How Do Neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis Rewire Your Brain?” Psychology Today, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201702/how-do-neuroplasticity-and-neurogenesis-rewire-your-brain
Dr. Michael Merzenich, Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life