Train Your Brain
Creating new neural pathways will help you let go of bad habits.
When you understand how neural pathways are created in the brain, you get a front-row seat for truly comprehending how to let go of habits. Neural pathways are like superhighways of nerve cells that transmit messages. You travel over the superhighway many times, and as you do, the pathway becomes more and more solid. You may go to cigarettes or a specific food for comfort over and over, and that repetition forms a brain pathway. Thankfully, the brain is always changing, and you can forge new pathways and create new habits.
I used to drive with my left foot on the brake and my right on the accelerator, and I wanted to train myself to drive with one foot only. It took some time, as I had a strong neural pathway for two-footed driving. But because I had the will to do it, I built a new pathway and reprogrammed my brain. You can remove a behavior, or a thought or addiction, directly from the brain.
Because of neuroplasticity, the brain’s potential to change, anything is possible. People who’ve had strokes can retrain their brains to function again by building new pathways. Smokers, overeaters and many others can learn new behaviors and attitudes that can transform their lives. Whether you work with others to change their habits, or you work with your own—or both—you can apply these understandings to boost your success.
Identify the habit you’d like to transform and set the intention.
You may remember the punch line, “The light bulb has to want to change.” You have to have a high intention to change as well. If there is this high intention, then creating new pathways in your brain is bound to happen.
Observe what the old habit or pathway is doing in your life.
Look at your feelings, thoughts, and how your body is responding to the habit, and see what results you’re creating in your life. Be the witness, and be aware.
Shift your focus.
This is very important. To create a new neural pathway, you must take the focus off the old habit, and then that old habit will eventually fall away. Don’t pay attention to the doughnuts and cakes. Focus your awareness on wholesome, healthy, delicious foods.
Use your imagination.
You can build new neural pathways not only with new behaviors, but through the imagination. Imagine the new behaviors over and over and over. Keep repeating them in your mind so you build new pathways. Focus your mind and retrain your brain.
Interrupt your thoughts and patterns when they arise.
Say “no” or “cancel” when an old thought or impulse comes in, and say, “I don’t have to do that anymore.” Then turn toward the new neural pathway you’re building and keep on going in the right direction.
Use aversion therapy.
This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It’s an optional path. I like to call it the “maggots on the chocolate cake” technique. I used to love candies and sweets, and when I stopped eating them, I still had to pass by the candy store in town. I used aversion to train my brain to keep walking: “That’s junk,” I said to myself. “It’s made in factories, is sickeningly sweet, and makes me feel bad. The company makes it so sweet just to addict buyers. I don’t want any of that.” So I talk myself out of it. I’ve used it with many of my clients (only those who say they want it) to help them quit smoking, eating junk food, using cocaine and many other behaviors.
Create a specific plan and choose what to do instead.
When you get specific, it’s easier to build new neural pathways. You “make it official.” Decide that you want to exercise instead of overeating, or that you want to eat fruit instead of candy. Just keep focused on the new choice. You may want to create affirmations and anchors to reinforce your choices. This can be “I’m free,” or “I’m in control.” Reinforce this with energy therapies like Emotional Freedom Technique or other methods.
Transform the obstacles.
Look at what’s in the way. Look at secondary gain— what you’ve been getting out of the old habits or pathways. Look at the stress in your life, and think about how you can handle it differently. Get your mind in the place of possibility. Handle the emotions and thoughts, and get on a new superhighway in your mind.
Connect with your higher source for inspiration and support.
Listen to our guidance. Know you have the Force within you, and therefore you have great power. Meditation creates new pathways and brain changes. Actual studies have been done on the brains of monks to show meditation’s effect on neural circuits of the brain.
Transform and make the shift.
Know that transformation is always possible and that you can create new brain pathways whenever you’re ready to make the shift. When you keep your mind in the “I can do it!” space, you get a clear sense that you’re done with the old and on a new beam now.
Some people feel we’re being rewired spiritually for a new era. There’s great upheaval now in our world. And there’s a process of transformation happening on earth in which huge changes are taking place for all of humanity. You have to be present in the moment, overcome your fears, and get to know the infinite source so you can be a vehicle for the light to predominate on the earth.
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #44.
View Article References.
View Author Bio.
To purchase this issue, Order Here.