1) Be clear on the underlying principles of what you are doing. Neuro-rehabilitation, or brain retraining, regardless of what program or method you are using, can be broken down into the following steps:
Cultivating self-awareness & understanding of what is happening
Catching negative thought patterns, emotional states, and maladaptive behaviour patterns, and redirecting in those moments toward more adaptive, constructive and helpful thoughts/behaviours. Understanding that you have a choice in those moments, and actively choosing to move toward wellness
Elevating emotional states as much as possible
Repeating all of the above over and over, to reinforce the new neural pathways & neurochemistry
Re-evaluating & reflecting on the changes as a result of engaging in this process
When we have a clear understanding of the principles behind what we are doing and why it is important, we have the recipe to create change effectively.
2) Cultivate your curious observer and be diligent about catching negative thoughts and old habitual behaviours. The bottom line is, we cannot change what we are not aware of. The first step in changing our brains is to fine tune our curious observer skills. Mindfulness practices can be helpful with cultivating this skill.
3) Create a consistent routine and try to stick to it as much as possible. The more consistently you can practice, the easier it will be to make the changes you are seeking. If you have trouble with consistent routines, consider adding-on to already established routines in your schedule (like brushing your teeth, meal times, using the bathroom, etc.). For example, in the morning as soon as your teeth are brushed, you would move directly into your practice. Or every time you make a meal you actively cultivate an elevated emotional state by thinking of something you are grateful for or someone you love. Remind yourself of why you are retraining, why it is important to you, and what will be available to you as a result of your efforts.
4) Add in as much playfulness, fun, and activities to elevate your emotions as you can (regardless of what your limbic system might think about that!). Even as adults we have a biological need for fun and play in our lives. Think about what you enjoy, or have enjoyed in the past, and start to bring in more of those activities. Consider joining a laughter yoga or dance group. Try out different things and see what you enjoy the most. Treat it as an fun experiment.
5) Recognize that repetition is key. It is through repetition that we reinforce the new neural pathways, and through consistent redirection away from the old pathways that we enable them to prune away.
6) Reach out for help if you need it. Brain retraining is rarely a linear process of steady improvements. For most, there are ups and downs along the way. Know that this is part of the process, and keep going with it. If you are feeling stuck or need some help trouble shooting certain aspects of the rewiring, consider reaching out to a qualified coach for assistance. You may also have a forum or platform associated with your program where you can ask questions and get advice. You don't have to do this alone. It's okay to ask for help.
7) Keep your focus on what you want & where you're going, rather than on what you are trying to change. Energy follows attention, and what you focus on is what you grow. Rather than focusing on trying to make something "go away" or change, put your attention and energy into what you want instead. Be clear on your ideal recovery and what that would look like for you.
8) Trust that your efforts will pay off. When we consistently, actively, and repeatedly redirect our brain and reinforce new neural pathways and new neurochemical states, your brain has no choice but to change.
Wishing you every success in retraining your brain!
Next week: Q & A on core beliefs and releasing emotions vs. negating them
If you have a question, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Candy Widdifield is Registered Clinical Counsellor, Wellness Coach, and Registered Reiki Master Teacher in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. She works with people all over the world, helping them to optimize their wellbeing and thrive in their lives. Her modalities include coaching, therapy, Reiki and the Safe & Sound Protocol. More information about Candy can be found at www.candywiddifield.com