Positive Thinking and Neuroplasticity: Can You Rewire Your Brain?
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What is Neuoplasticity?
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to “rewire” itself and create new neural pathways in response to learning, thoughts, sensory stimulation, trauma, or disease. The word broken down means
neuro : relates to nerves or nervous system.
plastic: capable of being shaped and molded.
Neurons are nerve cells. Information is transferred between neurons via neuron synapses which are the sites of electrical impulse between two neurons. As infants and toddlers we are constantly learning about our new environment. As newborns, we start with 2,500 synapses per neuron which increases to 15,000 as a toddler. Some neural pathways are strengthened through experience and repetition while others become weak due to not being used.
During our teen years, we go through significant synaptic pruning which leaves unused neural connections available, but in a metaphorical junk drawer to be forgotten. Since we are creatures of habit, our neural pathways are well established by the time we’re adults so certain pathways continue to be unused. Neuroplasticity shows that we can change our neural pathways and use pathways that are not in use which increases our overall potential.
How Do We Change Our Wiring?
Think of a time you tried learning something new as an adult. This could be a time you tried to learn a new language, instrument, dance, or even something as simple as writing with your opposite hand.
How did it feel? It felt hard!
Learning something new as an adult feels unnatural and uncomfortable which often leads to early termination of learning. We like to be good at things, so we continue to do what we’re comfortable doing over-and-over again.
When we had 15,000 synapses per neuron ready to fire, it was much easier to learn as our minds were like sponges to our environment. You are capable of making new pathways, but you have to step out of your comfort zone. If you don’t quit and you keep practicing and force yourself to get past the hard parts, you’ll start creating more neural connections and overtime the brain rearranges synaptic connections until the new activity becomes easier and easier.
You are capable of learning anything, but you must escape the “it’s too hard” or “‘I’m not good at that” mentality.
How is Neuroplasticity Related to the Law of Attraction?
Law of attraction is a philosophy that thoughts become things and like attracts like circumstances into your life. If you’re naturally pessimistic, it’s because you’ve trained your neural pathways to always fire in the direction of the worst-case scenario. Being set in a worst-case scenario pathways may have been beneficial for our ancestors when they were in survival mode on a day-to-day basis, but this thinking process does not benefit you now.
Changing to positive thinking patterns remaps your hardwired pathways until your brain naturally chooses feel good responses. Science does not support the law of attraction because it’s a faith based metaphysical principle that’s very difficult to study. However, neuroplasticity can be studied and the brain's ability to develop new connections and pathways is being proven by science.
Instead of having neurons fire in a pattern that lights up repetitive negative thoughts, you can turn on pathways that reinforce happiness, optimism, hopefulness, faith, self-esteem and trust. Since like attracts like, your new positive pathways will make positiving thinking feel more natural which by the principles of law of attraction will make you start to attract positive circumstances and people into your life.
Pathways that are not beneficial to your wellbeing start as an infant, so they go deeper than just repetitive behaviors in adulthood which is why neural pathways are so difficult to change. However, this poor wiring can be corrected. If a damaged brain is capable of changing then a healthy brain is 100% able to rewire the circuits. By rewiring your thought pattern, you can change your life and start making law of attraction principles work in your life.
Rewire Neural Pathways to Optimism
To change your thoughts, you need to recognize and be able to observe your inner voice. You can learn how here. By sitting in the seat of consciousness, you can watch internal chatter without judgment and become conscious of negative thought patterns so you can address these thoughts before they become problematic.
When you recognize a negative thought, you can first acknowledge the thought without getting involved in the downward spiral drama. If you don’t acknowledge the thought and just try to ignore it, then it’s likely to continuously keep popping into your brain. If I tell you NOT to think about a pink elephant, the image of a pink elephant is likely to keep popping into your head until you acknowledge it and move on.
However, acknowledging the thought does not mean getting caught up in the drama that your inner voice is really good at creating.
If a negative thought pops up and your mind goes to the worst-case scenario, switch your thinking to something that makes you feel grateful. It can be ANYTHING that you’re grateful for. Then focus on why you’re grateful for whatever it is that brings you joy in your life. Feel the feelings of gratitude. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. It can be as simple as the way your dog wags his tail when you walk in the house. Focus on what makes you happy and continue to do this simple exercise until your mind’s new comfortable pathway is one of gratitude.
Positive affirmations are another way to practice switch-thinking. Anytime my negative pathways start firing and I recognize the negative inner voice, I will first acknowledge the thought and visualize the thought floating away. If it stays problematic I will stop the thought and repeat my affirmations:
I am happy
I am healthy
I am loved
I am successful
I am open and ready to receive abundance.
You can use mine or create your own. I like my switch thinking affirmations because they’re easy to remember and repeat so I can easily reinforce positive pathways. I quickly acknowledge negative thoughts and if these thoughts are just melodramatic nonsense, I’ll switch my thoughts to my affirmations as I can always readdress the negative thought later without judging it as anything more than an information bubble.
Overtime, the brain will naturally start choosing the new pathways of positive thoughts as negative thought patterns are used less. The more repetitive your actions, the quicker the brain finds the positive roadmap because that’s its new comfort zone.
If you’re continuously having negative thoughts or your negative thoughts are intrusive, seek help from a mental health provider. Again, sometimes negative thoughts are just meaningless nonsense, but sometimes the thoughts come from something deeper and should be addressed with professional help.
Visualizing to Rewire the Brain
Thoughts oftentimes have an associated visualization which can be an image or even a sensation. Visualization can be used to rewire past neural pathway blockages or used to remap your brain so it’s more capable of visualizing your future goals.
While visualizing, your brain can’t tell what’s real and what’s made up. Athletes can activate their muscles using their mind and visualize themselves winning, dancers can activate footwork patterns in their mind, and musicians can play mentally without their instruments. Visualizations give you the ability to step outside of your comfort zone where you are victorious in achieving your goals.
Through repetition of visualization, you’re creating neural pathways to reinforce that anything is possible allowing you to take more risks in your life. Seeing yourself with more confidence, leading, being successful, and rehearsing it over-and-over can only lead you to a better life.
Bob Proctor says “if you can see it in your mind, you can hold it in your hand”. This is how visualization and the law of attraction works. With repeated visualizations, your mind already thinks it has what you’re visualizing. The visualizations help you create goals and once you have goals, you can be unstoppable if you continue to rewire neural pathways that are consistent with setting and meeting goals.
Meditation and Neuroplasticity
Mindful meditators practice both thinking and sensory awareness without judgment. One study found that mindfulness meditators who practiced two hours per week for four weeks had brain networks that looked different than non-meditators. Mindfulness prevents us from falling into default thinking patterns.
Meditation is also a skill that improves with repetition as you create new neural pathways that make you a better meditator. Meditation also increases the ability for neuroplasticity, so you're able to change your current neural pathways. There are so many forms of meditation that you can experiment with and find what works for you. Click here to discover different meditation techniques [no affiliation].
Learning about neuroplasticity and everything the brain is capable of is an exciting topic. With positive thinking, meditation, and visualization you can rewire your brain to follow pathways that benefit your future while also changing faulty pathways from past blockages. What do you think of this blog post? Do you feel neuroplasticity and law of attraction have the power to work together to improve circumstances? How will you apply what you've learned to your own life? Comment below don't forget to Subscribe.