March: Journey of Growth

You can change your brain through self-directed neuroplasticity

Growing into our ME to WE potential takes self-directing the neuropathways of our brain. The physical structure of our brain is neuroplastic or pliable and changes throughout our life. Human brains are a network of neurons. Each neuron is connected to other neurons. Neurons that fire together, wire together (Hebb’s Law). They “lock in” as a circuit. Picture your brain as a big city with lots of roads. Some of these roads are super-highways where cars move very quickly. They are autopilot ways of thinking, feeling, and doing that are unique to you. Every time you use a neuropathway, you strengthen it. If you don’t use a neuropathway, you lose it. Like building muscles, you use it or lose it.

A diagram of a brain lifting weights.

The miraculous thing is that you have a superpower. You can self-direct new habits of thinking, feeling and behavior which changes the physical structure of your brain.

Our job on our journey of growth from ME to WE is one where we increasingly operate from center and live our values from the inside-out. Self-directing our neuropathways into values-based superhighways can be done with this four-part formula:

1. Center

Connect to center & core values

2. Focus

Think values-based thoughts

3. Feel

Feel positive emotions

4. Behave

Behave in a value-based manner

The key is repetition. The challenge is we already have some well-established neuropathways. Some of these likely need to be reprogrammed because they are no longer serving us. The journey of growth is filled with getting sidetracked and knocked off center. The key is to notice when this happens and then, with love and self-acceptance, get back on track.

There ain’t no shame in the game of growing![1] There is no room for self-judgement. It hurts us rather than helps us. To shed undesired autopilot pathways, we REPLACE OLD WITH NEW[2]. This means that when we notice an undesired autopilot thought and action pattern arise, we:

  1. RE-CENTER by taking a deep breath and connecting to our center of peace and core values.
  2. RE-FOCUS attention on values-based thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
  3. REPEAT: Do this over and over and over to create a new values-based neural pathway.[3]

Interestingly, when this process is followed, research shows that within a couple of weeks, brain scanners would show changes to the brain. Within six to eight weeks, significant changes are possible.

Question for You:

What are some autopilot neuropathways you’d like to replace with new, more productive ones that are aligned with your values?

Enjoy the journey of ME to WE growth!

Mary Beth McEuen

[1] Quote from Tena Frank, MyBrand COO.
[2] This method was originally developed for OCD patients. It enabled them to overcome their illness without medications.
[3] Schwartz, Jeffrey M.D. and Gladding, Rebecca M.D. (2011). You Are Not Your Brain: The 4-Step Solution for Changing Bad Habits, Ending Unhealthy Thinking, and Taking Control of Your Life. New York, NY: Penguin Group.
An icon of a paper airplane.

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