How to re-wire your brain for a more positive outlook
Have you ever driven home from work and wondered how you even got from point A to point B? This “autopilot” happens when your unconscious mind knows the way, releasing your conscious mind from having to pay close attention. It’s called implicit memory and it’s ingrained, automatic, and habituated. And it affects more than just your driving habits.
If you have thought that you’re not good enough, smart enough, fast enough, or even that you don’t have enough time - these limiting beliefs have become lodged in your brain after years of repetition. But there is hope! Science has proven that we can actually re-wire our brains and one of the best ways to start is through affirmation statements.
Affirmation statements focus on what you WANT to believe, think and feel, so through intentional repetition you can actually replace your limiting beliefs with positive thoughts that will eventually turn into empowering action!
Here’s the science behind it: Neurons that fire together, wire together. Your habituated thoughts (aka beliefs) are wired responses in your brain. They work through associations, meaning a particular person, location, topic, or thing is associated with a certain memory and/or emotional state. This association, at a physical level, is a neuron connection or “wire” in your brain that connects the “thing” to the emotional memory. When we’re exposed to that stimulus (whether thinking about it or experiencing it), the brain automatically follows the wire from that “thing” to the thought and emotion associated with it. The reason this happens is that the brain likes to be EFFICIENT! It is designed to make these connections so that you can quickly interpret and respond to future life experiences.
Over time, the neural network in your brain LITERALLY gets re-wired through repetition and these new affirmative beliefs become the new NORMAL—they become your automatic, go-to thought, response, or emotion.
So how can you start re-wiring your brain so your go-to thoughts and beliefs are positive and productive? Follow the 6 P’s of effective affirmations:
1. Possible: You must believe your affirmation is possible. You don’t necessarily have to believe it 100% yet, but you at least have to reasonably believe it is possible and reasonable.
2. Power: Your affirmation must be within the power of your control. Affirmations are what we are telling our own brains to take action on. Affirming that it won’t rain on your wedding day or that your boyfriend will stop being so critical is ineffective because they’re outside of your control. Instead, affirm that you’ll find great joy in your wedding, regardless of the weather, or that you’ll communicate openly and honestly about how you feel and take constructive criticism with grace.
3. Present: Write affirmations in the present tense—as if it’s happening now. Use words like “am” instead of “will”.
4. Personal: Use “I” statements and, again, keep your affirmations focused on yourself, not things outside of yourself.
5. Positive: Focus on what you DO want, not what you do NOT want. Avoid words such as “not” and “don’t”. For example, instead of saying “I am not yelling at my kids” say “I am speaking to my kids constructively and lovingly.”
6. Passion: The key ingredient to effective affirmations is to FEEL IT! The emotional
response to your affirmation statement is what allows the brain to create new wires.
And, lastly, repeat your affirmations consistently. This means repeating them often and over a long period of time. Write them down and post them somewhere visible in your home. Program an alarm to remind you to look at them at specific times of day. Keep a copy of them in your phone or wallet. And, commit to reviewing them daily for 30 days.
Now that you understand the science behind affirmations and the keys to making them effective, you have the power to rewire your brain!