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Change your brain and feel more sane!

“The state of your life is nothing more than a reflection of your state of mind. Wayne Dyer

Your mind is one of your most valuable resources depending on how you use it. Have you ever noticed that sometimes you are using your mind for evil rather than good by repeatedly thinking negative, limiting or untrue thoughts?

Something that has significantly helped me and my clients shift our thinking has been learning about how our brains work. Your brain is not a static, unalterable organ. It is possible to change the physiology of your brain, which in turn alters your thoughts. You have experienced altering your brain chemistry many times like all of a sudden thinking you are a great singer after having a few cocktails. Or enjoying a positive attitude from the high you experience after an endorphin-releasing workout.

So how do we change our brain in a way that creates more life enhancing, affirming thoughts? Let’s start with a little very basic science (disclaimer: obviously I am not a scientist or doctor, but this has been explained to me by a scientist and doctor). Repetitive thoughts in our brain form these things called neural nets in our brain that are clusters of chemically connected or functionally associated neurons. What that means is if you think the same thought or type of thought over and over again, it forms a physical cluster of neurons in your brain. Over time, these neural nets create grooves in your brain that your thoughts gravitate toward. For instance, if you repeatedly think along the lines of, ‘I am not good enough, you create a neural net around that limiting belief/thought. Once that neural net is formed, it becomes easier and easier (even habitual) to think in the direction of ‘I’m not good enough’.

This will make more sense if I give you a metaphor. Visualize a house in the middle of a really overgrown field. See yourself in a truck that is a football field’s distance from the house and your job is to drive the truck to the house. On your first trip, it is going to be a bumpy ride as you have to get through all the weeds, bushes and rocks. You are holding onto the steering wheel pretty tight and focused on your destination. Now, imagine that you drive the same truck down the same path day after day. Over time, the wheels would create a path in the field and eventually, the truck will just naturally gravitate down the road you carved by driving down the same path day after day. It would not require much steering or effort at all.

But say you want to create a different route to the house. The first time you steered the truck off course it would once again be a bumpy ride. You have to steer with focus again to get the truck from going down the easier, well-carved path. But if you drove the truck down the new path day after day, a new road would form that eventually would feel as natural as the first road you carved.

Your brain is like the field and your thoughts are like the truck. If you want to change the direction your thoughts naturally gravitate toward, you are going to have to consciously steer them off their natural course and create a new neural pathway in your brain. Let’s go back to our earlier example of the neural net created by the thought ‘I am not good enough’. If you want to create a new pathway in your brain, when you notice yourself thinking that limiting thought, IMMEDIATELY redirect your thoughts in a new direction. Over time as you choose new life enhancing and affirming thoughts, you will create new pathways and neural nets in your brain that you will more naturally gravitate towards. Thinking the thoughts you want to think will become easier as you change the physiology of your brain.

We take our bodies to the gym to alter our physique.  Why don’t we give our brains a workout to alter our state of mind? If you want to change your life, you MUST change your thoughts. And do so with loving discipline.

A great exercise to do is to write down your negative thoughts on a journal throughout the day and then immediately write the positive thought on the other side of the page. For example ‘I am not good enough’ becomes ‘I am more than enough’. Every evening read the positive thoughts to yourself and slowly your thoughts will become more positive over time.

“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it,  change the way you think about it’ Mary Engelbreit