In order to understand how we can change thoughts, we have to take a look at the brain and understand a key function called “Neuroplasticity” it’s often used as an umbrella term but essentially it is meant to describe that our brain is plastic i.e. changeable.
What is Neuroplasticity?
Neuroplasticity means that new pathways in your brain are created and that way you can change habits, thoughts, routines and so on through focused practice and repetition.
Through the plasticity, in your brain, the neurons can link together in new ways and create new pathways.
As I said old and, new neurons can link and create new pathways through focused learning of new information or novel situations that you are exposed to.
Hence, the importance of seeking out novel things. It keeps your brain sharp and creates new pathways.
You decide to learn a new skill? What will happen is that as you study this new skill the neurons in the area of your brain responsible for that skill would send electrical impulses down the axon to the cell’s center where it’s then routed to a particular group of connected dendrites which would then release a chemical signal to the new targeted group of neurons that are located next to it.
New pathways begin to form to acquire and store the new skill. These new pathways become stronger the more they are used, causing the creation of new long-term connections and memories.
All your memories of events, words, images, emotions, etc. react to activities of certain networks of neurons in your brain that have strengthened connections with one another.
How are new neural pathways created?
New pathways are created every time we experience something new and different.
However, not all pathways created are good.
When you get into a fight with someone, and that fight ends badly for you then you will associate your coming fights and scenarios that led to that fight with the previous one. So, in short, you created a pathway based on that bad fight experience and thereby conditioned yourself to avoid any future confrontation that will lead up to a fight, which obviously isn’t good since if you always avoid confrontations you become weak and let other people walk all over you to avoid the previous bad experience.
Such conditioning happens the day we are born and the longer you used those pathways, the more difficult it becomes to break out of that habit. Neural pathways are conditioned habits, routines, and thoughts. And children are especially susceptible to this kind of stuff. Hence, the brainwashing in school, the effect single moms have on their children, you get the gist.
Why should you change your neural pathways?
Now if it’s not clear already the reason to change them is to get rid of the stuff that limits and holds you back while keeping and preserving the ones that serve you well.
Begs the question how to change neural pathways?
Simple, by doing things differently and repeatedly, that’s the short answer to this question. You do the things you repeatedly want, while avoiding (and this is key) the stuff that you want to get rid. Avoiding is so important because it’s easy for your brain to fall into old habits, the old pathways, they don’t die they are still there, they are just underused so you gotta be careful about that since anything associated with the old bad habit can trigger it, smell, noise, state of mind i.e. boredom.
Other things that you can to support this new creation of pathways is to use dopamine. It plays a key role as the rewarding stimulus. It manages your responses to rewards, food, sex, social interactions, and plays part in how motivated you are. Simply put, the activation of a pathway that releases dopamine tells your brain to repeat what you just did to get that reward.
Observe what habits are doing in your life. Look at your emotions, thoughts, and how your body responds to these things. Be self-aware.
It’s tough, and you have to constantly push yourself in spite of boredom, not wanting to, and every other excuse in the book that might trigger the old negative pathway.
The rule of thumb is that it’s good to seek new experiences and knowledge to stay mentally sharp and fit.
To create new pathways in your brain, become aware and notice your old patterns first. Cut out what makes you keep coming back and go out to search for new experiences, novel ideas, new environments, etc. Self-awareness is so important in that regard because if you train yourself in self-awareness, you will notice your old thinking and be able to change directions straight away.
As always thanks for reading and until next time.
P.S. Did you like what you read? Then I highly suggest to take a look at my book SHATTERED you can get it on Amazon.