Transforming negativity, fear, anxiety and worries to more positive and upward thoughts with neuroplasticity.
I don’t know about you, but my mind chatters on endlessly, especially when I am making changes, big decisions, or facing some unexpected challenge. It is like an endless loop of worry, questions, old habitual patterns, and over thinking. Sound familiar?
A number of years ago I began to relabel my chatter from ‘annoying interruptions’ to ‘giving myself instructions.’ At the time that relabelled my experience with the endless loop. I felt relief simply by renaming my mental chatter. Since then, I have learned that I have more choice around the conversations in my head.
Now, being someone (in my younger years, of course) who has always viewed rules and instructions with a sharp eye for loopholes and ways to live around the rules, this new label created a doorway of opportunity! I could make a choice whether to listen and follow my brain’s instructions or redesign those messages into a new story — a story with more positivity and hope. I felt a new sense of freedom.
Then, I learned about neuroplasticity and the brain’s ability to create new pathways, new learnings, and, quite simply, change — all the way to our last breath! I read ‘The Brain that Changes Itself’; ‘Evolve Your Brain’; ‘You Are Not Your Brain’; ‘The Power of Neuroplasticity’; and others. Each one confirming my move to change how I viewed my mental chatter!
How refreshing to learn that I did not need to continue living from by brain’s instructions that, too often, sounded old, familiar, habitual, and leaning too far into negativity. These messages were generally old stories or deceptive brain messages (DBM’s for short) that Schwartz and Gladding talk about in ‘You Are Not Your Brain’. Albeit, my brain’s efforts have been noble! All these instructions were & are an effort to keep me safe by keeping me in the familiar old programming — free from risk, new adventures, and considering choices that took me out of my box and into new, unfamiliar territories.
For those who know me, I haven’t been a great rule following model as my life has involved many alternative choices, risks, and leaps into the unknown. However, I have avoided many changes and challenges because my DBM’s have felt so real in my brain and my body — leading me down the path to perceived safety.
What I am learning in neuroplasticity is that my old neural pathways step up their game whenever I am faced with a change, new adventure, or challenge by becoming louder and insistent. Unless I decide to make a new neural pathway of positivity by renaming, reframing, and redirecting my focus. Does it take work? Of course it does! In order to change and create new habits that are positive, I make a plan with reminders posted around my house to remind me of my effort to change.
Here is what I do: First, I identify and relabel my DBM’s as what they are — deceptive brain messages. Second, I thank my brain for its valiant effort to keep me safe. Third, I refocus my attention toward my new direction of a positive habit. It is this last step that takes the daily work of doing and affirming – over and over again. It takes anywhere from 20 – 30 days of consistent effort to create a new habit (sometimes longer). My judge is when I am doing and acting in a new way without having to remind myself. Personally, I like to create 30 day challenges for myself, inspired by the Certificate in Positive Psychology Course that I’ve taken — a month is a nice stretch of time to begin carving a new neural pathway!
I must add that the deceptive brain messages and instructions don’t necessarily go away. In fact, my clever brain continues the endless loop just in case I am not paying attention! I simply keep returning to relabeling the chatter and sensations as deceptive brain messages (not based in current reality but following old programming), reframing by thanking my brain, and refocusing my attention in the positive direction I would prefer to follow.
Begin to notice what deceptive brain messages are chattering inside you! Then either try what I’ve suggested here and/or go get the book, ‘You Are Not Your Brain’. To learn more about the Certificate in Positive Psychology I mentioned above, go to http://www.wholebeinginstitute.com, to learn more. Best of luck and enjoy the more positive you!
“Your mind is your biggest ally. It gives you the capacity to choose where to focus your attention so that your actions align with your true self.”
~ You Are Not Your Brain