Rewiring Your Brain through Neuroplasticity
Have you ever considered what happens in your brain when you say “I’m not good at dieting” or “I am never consistent at working out”? It’s simple, you’re reinforcing them as a truth.
Then, somewhere down the road you say, “I’m going to get fit and healthy.” And your brain responds and says “but remember, you aren’t good at dieting or consistently working out, so you can’t go that route.”
So what can you do? Luckily, our brains have something called neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to undergo structural or physiological changes to reorganize itself through new neural connections. Simply put: our brains can change.
We can use neuroplasticity to our advantage to change unwanted behaviors, habits and it can even start using other parts of the brain for things like language, if the original language center of the brain is damaged. Pretty cool!
Let’s go back to our example of “I’m not good at dieting.” How do you change the framework your brain has made around that thought?
Here are a few suggestions:
- Visualization/Meditation: Sit and think about yourself dieting and what that means to you. Perhaps it means eating whole foods, fruits and veggies. See yourself at a meal eating those things and feeling good about them. Practice this thought and meditate on it often. See yourself losing weight or building muscle. See the new you and focus on that.
- Recognize Habits and Patterns: Start to pay attention to the habits you already have. If you do X does it lead to Y? Do you always do Z first thing in the morning? What about ABC at night? Go through your day mentally and look at which habits you already have and where you want to add new ones.
- Change Habits and Patterns: Use a tag-a-long method to start attaching new habits to habits you already have. Ie. Every time you get up to fill your water bottle, also take a 5 minute walk. You’ll reinforce both habits at once!
- Make Positive Associations with Previously Negative Experiences: Perhaps you once did many back squats and got sore for a week. It was an unpleasant feeling. After that, you started to realize that back squatting was awful and you hated it. Every time you went to do it you just dreaded it and it started impacting your whole workout.
So instead of forcing yourself to back squat all the time, you stop incorporating as a “necessary” lift. After a few months you ease back into it by going light with very few reps. You find you aren’t that sore. The lift felt good. Could you now – gasp – like to do back squats?!
Voilà! You have now turned a previously negative experience positive.
There are of course many ways that you can “rewire” your brain and change your perceptions, beliefs and personality traits. If you don’t have the time or will to make changes now, feel good knowing that it’s at least possible, when you are ready.
If you feel like you need some help getting that neuroplasticity working, shoot me an email to see how I can help.
Extra Reading: An Amazon search on neuroplasticity will return over 1,000 books dedicated to this very subject. However, if you want to learn more about changing and specifically on making new habits, check out James Clear’s book Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. This book is not only entertaining, it’s also extremely useful and simple to understand.