The transportation of signals to and from the brain is done by these remarkable things called ‘neurons’. They are scattered throughout the body (largely the brain) in magnificent networks that join up at critical points to form the basis of neural pathways.
Neural pathways are responsible for transmitting the information we have stored so that it can be converted into action in the present. For example, you may come to realise you drive the same route to work each day, or you eat off your plate in the same order each night – these are both neural pathways.
There is still a lot unknown about neural pathways, but there is also a lot we can take away from them. Each day, each week, each month, and over our whole lifetime we will continually develop and create new pathways and block up others (exciting!). This is a process that can be both positive and negative – both detrimental and advantageous.
So how do we create new neural pathways and how do we make sure we’re doing it correctly? There’s two key terms, and these are ‘distinctive’ and ‘repeatedly’. Terminologically speaking distinctive means to be unique, different and special. Repeatedly means to be consistent, persevering and dedicated. So let’s put this all together and try to understand how we can begin to support the growth of our brain and its ability to comprehend and manage challenging situations.
First we must realise the difference between the development of positive neural networks and negative neural networks. A positive neural network is something like a person beginning to exercise consistently and starting to see the results in muscle growth or weight loss, and being proud. On the counter, there can also be negative neural networks, for example thoughts we generate about the consistent exercise and training to achieve such results being too much hard work or too tiring to complete.
Can you see how we can have the development of both positive and negative neural networks for the same activity? This is where we need to be really careful, this is a critical stage.
Somehow we need to hold onto the positive parts and block out the negative, right? Then we can exercise freely and be focused only on our growth.
There’s a beautiful thing about our thoughts. Our thoughts create our reality. It can be very hard to control our thoughts, but they’re like a muscle and they can be exercised – they can get stronger over time. This is where the principle of repeatability comes in – if we can make the conscious effort to direct our thoughts to more positive outcomes each day, we start to build this ‘muscle’ (the brain’s networks).
It’s something we have to be patient with though, we’ve just gotta keep turning up, day after day after day for about 15-20 days or so (see my article “It Takes 21 Days to Build or Break a Habit“).
It’ll gradually become easier to think more positively each day. Our challenges won’t be diminished but they will be tied to more affirmative goals and we will be more motivated and inspired to continue pursuing them.
One thing you can start to try each day to start you on this journey is to wake up each morning with a thankful attitude. Showing gratitude that you have been blessed with another day – and at night go to bed with thoughts that you have done your best and are thankful for the lessons you have learned (literally say these lessons in your mind or out loud each night) and you will start to see a shift in your desires to achieve what’s truly important to you. I trust in you. You should too.
~ A.M, 2018