Here’s a quick look at this episode: How Plastic is Your Brain? (positive neuroplasticity)
In this episode:
- What exactly is positive neuroplasticity?
- The gift of neuroplasticity, and the power it has in creating the opportunity for us to rise above our current limitations and to be greater than our conditioning or circumstances
- The three parts of the brain and how to create a new way of thinking
(some of the following are Amazon affiliate links. See my full disclosure here.)
- 10 Affirmations for an Effortlessly Clean Home
- Hardwiring Happiness – Rick Hansen
- Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself – Joe Dispensa
Rewiring your brain
Hi there! This is episode #5 of the Redefining Bold Podcast. I’m your host Gwen Whitfield from theboldabode.com, where I guide warm-hearted women in their quest for a more organized, cleaner home and a more productive and vibrant life.
And today, we’re talking about rewiring our brains. Now, if you don’t know this already, I absolutely love affirmations. There's something about telling yourself really amazing things and allowing that to just sink in.
And the reason I love affirmations is simple. It helps to rewire my brain. Now if you're like me you often think things that are destructive or the very least not constructive. I know we've talked about in previous episodes you know watching my sisters in the mirror and how they talk to themselves and it's not healthy to tell yourself these really negative things.
So when I wake up in the morning generally I just don't feel great I'm working on it but it's a challenge and a road that I have to travel. And so when you don't feel good physically it's really hard to get started in the morning mentally. But the one thing that has really really helped me is saying some very simple affirmations. I know I've talked about this recently but it really has helped tremendously. But why do affirmations seem to work.?
So I studied positive neuro-plasticity with Rick Hansen, and he talks about the brain being plastic and malleable. We think that when we grow up that we're set in our ways and we have patterns that seem to just pervade our lives. And when you create a pattern in your life whether it be a positive habit or a negative habit, it can be almost impossible to change.
So in addition to Rick Hansen there are other people out there that study neuro-plasticity and I want to read you an excerpt from one a really good book and one that I really love it from Joe Dispensa called breaking the habit of being yourself. This excerpt is just a little long so just bear with me:
So this excerpt is from chapter 63 brains thinking to doing to being;
Change Entails New Ways of Thinking, Doing, and Being. If you know how to drive a car, then you’ve already experienced probably the most elementary example of thinking, doing, and being. At first, you had to think about every action you took, and about all those rules of the road. Later, you became fairly proficient at driving, as long as you paid conscious attention to what you were doing. Eventually, you were being a driver; your conscious mind slid over and became a passenger, and ever since, your subconscious mind has probably occupied the driver’s seat most of the time; driving has become automatic and second nature to you. Much of what you learn is via this progression from thinking to doing to being, and three areas of the brain facilitate this mode of learning. But did you know that you can also go directly from thinking to being—and it’s likely that you’ve already experienced this in your life? Through the meditation that is at the heart of this book (this chapter will give you a prelude), you can go from thinking about the ideal self you want to become, straight to being that new self. That is the key to quantum creating. Change all begins with thinking: we can immediately form new neurological connections and circuits that reflect our new thoughts. And nothing gets the brain more excited than when it’s learning—assimilating knowledge and experiences. These are aphrodisiacs for the brain; it “fondles” every signal it receives from our five senses. Every second, it processes billions of bits of data; it analyzes, examines, identifies, extrapolates, classifies, and files information, which it can retrieve for us on an “as needed” basis. Truly, the human brain is this planet’s ultimate supercomputer. As you’ll recall, the basis for understanding how you can actually change your mind is the concept of hardwiring—how neurons engage in long-term, habitual relationships. I’ve talked about Hebbian learning, which states: “Nerve cells that fire together, wire together.” (Neuroscientists used to think that after childhood, brain structure was relatively immutable. But new findings reveal that many aspects of the brain and nervous system can change structurally and functionally—including learning, memory, and recovery from brain damage—throughout adulthood.)
But the opposite is also true: “Nerve cells that no longer fire together, no longer wire together.” If you don’t use it, you lose it. You can even focus conscious thought to disconnect or unwire unwanted connections. Thus, it is possible to let go of some of the “stuff” you’ve been holding on to that colors the way you think, act, and feel. The rewired brain will no longer fire according to the circuitry of the past. The gift of neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to rewire and create new circuits at any age as a result of input from the environment and our conscious intentions) is that we can create a new level of mind. There’s a sort of neurological “out with the old, in with the new,” a process that neuroscientists call pruning and sprouting. It’s what I call unlearning and learning, and it creates the opportunity for us to rise above our current limitations and to be greater than our conditioning or circumstances. In creating a new habit of being ourselves, we are essentially taking conscious control over what had become an unconscious process of being. Instead of the mind working toward one goal (I’m not going to be an angry person) and the body working toward another (Let’s stay angry and keep bathing in those familiar chemicals), we want to unify the mind’s intent with the body’s responses. To do this, we must create a new way of thinking, doing, and being. Given that to change our lives, we first have to change our thoughts and feelings, then do something (change our actions or behaviors) to have a new experience, which in turn produces a new feeling, and then we must memorize that feeling until we move into a state of being (when mind and body are one), at least we’ve got a few things going for us. Along with the brain being neuroplastic, we could say that we have more than one brain to work with. In effect, we have three of them.
And he goes on to talk about the three parts of the brain:
The “first brain,” the neocortex or thinking brain (in white). The “second brain” is the limbic or emotional brain, responsible for creating, maintaining, and organizing chemicals in the body (in gray). The “third brain,” the cerebellum, is the seat of the subconscious mind (in charcoal).
If you want to read more further, I totally recommend getting his book. It might seem a little woo-woo but I think it’s great. If you’d like to check it out, You can find the link to it in my show notes.
So, how do we create a new way of thinking? For one, using affirmations. These don’t have to be complicated and you don't have to buy affirmations you can simply sit down with a little notebook and think about the things that you're struggling with. Do you feel like you're not good enough to do your job or to get a promotion or to be more successful?
Or maybe you would really like to find a spouse and you you're frustrated that you haven't and you feel like you're not good enough or you're not worthy or you don't really deserve love.
Or maybe you want to start a business and you have the imposter syndrome and you don't feel like you know enough or you're smart enough even though you really are.
Just take a notebook and jot down your thoughts about what you want to do better; where you really want to change and then on another piece of paper write some positive things that you would tell like your best friend if you heard them saying these things out loud to you.
So for example if I were really excited about my job and there was a promotion available and I really really wanted to move up, but I had this kind of fear about it, I would sit down and I would think you know about my positive qualities. I would think about the work that I've done and how it's benefited the company, and I would just write a few sentences like
I do my current job with purpose and competence.
I am a hard worker and get things done.
I am successful in my current position and have the skills and experience to succeed.
I am worthy of a promotion.
I provide value to my company and am a team player, this will be an asset in this new job.
These are little things that only scratch the surface and you can tailor your affirmations to your personal situation. It really is encouraging and empowering to hear yourself tell yourself positive things.
And these statements these affirmations really start to become a part of you when you do them on a daily basis. Sometimes I have to do things more than once a day to encourage myself and empower myself.
Like before I sat down to write the script for this podcast, I was feeling very in adequate. I was feeling like I wasn't really making a difference in the lives of my family and in my business and the people that come to my website or listen to my podcast. I really felt down, but I decided that before I went out to run errands, I was going to sit down and do something for my business.
And right now I'm focusing on the podcast. It's something that I have really wanted to do for a long, long time, and I decided that I was going to concentrate on that today before I left the house. Because once I leave the house, I may not be in the frame of mind to sit down and work again. And so I looked at my list of topics to choose from and today's topic was, "rewiring your brain”.
And I was scared. I knew that if I started thinking about the things that I've learned I'm in my course with Rick or in the books that I've read, like Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, I might actually feel better. I know that sounds crazy, but like Frederic Chopin said:
I wish I could throw off the thoughts which poison my happiness, but I take a kind of pleasure in indulging them.
But I know myself so much better now and I want to talk about how in a podcast about the Enneagram. I know my number and I'm not going to tell you what that number is yet so stay tuned. If you're not familiar with the Enneagram, it is like a personality test similar to Myers-Briggs but yet very different, and it is helped me to know myself better than any other personality test I've ever taken any book I've ever read.
So because I know myself better I understand why that scared me. But I did it anyway because I do at the core of me want to feel positive and want to create something beautiful with this podcast and with theboldabode.com.
So sitting here and rereading some of these chapters in this awesome book and thinking about positive neural plasticity and affirmations and writing this podcast script has encouraged me.
It has reminded me that I have something to offer. It reminded me that I can create a positive force in this world. And that is a big part of what compels me, and I hope that this podcast is really a force for good and really does create positivity in the world.
Now if you read Joe's book he goes on to talk about meditation. Now, I love meditating but it can seem weird. However, it doesn’t have to be like you're some guru sitting in the floor with your legs crossed wearing a white gown. You can make meditation something of your own and we'll talk more about meditation later but it doesn't have to be you sitting there in a room on a pillow trying to stop thinking completely. That's that is a worthy goal if you want to attain that and it is helpful to be able to shut your thoughts off. But I found that simply doing positive affirmations about whatever is bothering you is incredibly powerful. I use them in my life every day.
And for me that is a step towards having more courage and being bold. The entire point of this podcast is to learn how to create your own sense of what it means to be bold in your life. For me right now that is putting myself out there, being more transparent with my struggles and what I'm doing to create a healthier and more positive life.
No I'm not a psychologist. I'm not a therapist. I haven't been trained professionally and you should take what I say and step back and really look at it and see if it's something you want to try, knowing that I am a lay person and everything I say comes from from my own experience. It's just anecdotal evidence. But sometimes anecdotal evidence is the best kind of evidence.
So can you really rewire your brain? I believe that you can. But it does take intention. It does take work. You really have to purposely take time out of your day to do the work. It's a process and it's a practice. When I think of it like that, when I think of it as a practice, it really does make it easier to do. Because when you sit down to practice something you don't expect to be immediately perfect with it. It takes time and dedication, it takes that every day doing of it.
So try it out. Take 30 days and really dedicate yourself to saying some positive affirmations every morning when you get up. You can do it in the shower, or while you're drying your hair. Sometimes I even look at myself in the mirror, I look at myself directly in the eyes and tell myself that I'm OK. That I am worthy. That I am enough just as I am.
And you, dear one, are too.
And so i leave you with this quote from Marcus Aurelius:
Our life is what our thoughts make it.
Thanks so much for listening and I’ll see you next time on the Redefining Bold Podcast!
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