Happy New Year! The beginning of a new year. I like it. It gives me the sense of a fresh start with infinite possibilities. What do you want this year to consist of for you? We have much more power to shape our reality than most people even know due to something in our brains called neuroplasticity. It is like having super powers or a secret weapon. Very cool. It is with us from birth. We are using it all the time whether we know it or not. It is our choice to use it consciously. To me, it has been the key to my recovery, and I fully plan to continue to direct it and exploit it to the fullest. You can put it to use for you too, and it will change your life. Promise.
The brain is pretty much like play dough minus the funky smell. It is changeable, malleable and adaptable even into adulthood. This quality is called neuroplasticity. Technically, nueroplasticity is defined as the property of the brain to change its structure and function. We are talking real physical changes here. The changes occur in response to actions we commit, our senses and perceptions, and even our thinking and imagining. Basically, what we do and think every day in our lives.
Thought actually changes matter. There is the secret weapon we all have available to us. You can just think about your hand raising and it does. That in and of itself is both extraordinary and very ordinary. Thoughts actually lead to changes in the brain.
Neuroplasticity has pretty amazing implications for every aspect of human nature and culture including medicine, psychiatry, psychology, relationships, education, and more. Neuroplasticity has allowed people who have experienced strokes and brain trauma to recover amazing functionality. It has allowed conginatively blind people to learn new methods to see. It has allowed children with cerebral palsy to learn to move more gracefully and children with autism to make cognitive strides which were thought not possible. It is allowing people to erase chronic pain. The examples go on and on.
These same principles can be used to change entrenched behaviors or patterns in your own life. Nothing is "hard wired." If there is anything in your life you want to change...you can. You just have to actually make the effort to do it with some consistency and your brain will respond by making permanent changes.
Wanna quit smoking? Interrupt the pattern habitually and your brain will become your ally in this. Wanna stop craving sweets or drinking coffee nonstop all day? Your brain can work for you here too. Wanna drop 10 pounds? Start visualizing it among other things. Wanna quit yelling or change your outlook or thought processes? Do it! Want your nagging back pain to lessen? Put your thoughts to work on it. Just about anything in your life, you can change and your brain will change too and reinforce the new pattern.
I personally quit smoking. They wouldn't let me light up in the hospital two years ago. So, I figured it was a good time to stop anyway. However, the biggest change I have made is in my thought processes. I had years of mental health counseling and had taken antidepressants for years. I did all this and still tried to commit suicide. Not too successful in my book. Without pills or professional help in the past two years, I have literally rewired my brain to think differently...and I do. That is the best super power of all.
The bottom line is that we have grossly underestimated what the brain can do and the huge role it can play in shaping our lives and our reality even. I encourage you to put yours to work for you this year. You have a magic wand. Use it!