Rewire your negative thinking errors

Do you remember what it was like when you starting driving lessons? If you were like me you started in a car park – the biggest space possible so you couldn’t destroy anything. Stall it repeatedly. Then progress onward to housing estates, edging round slowly with maximum psychological intensity (despite the fact you’re going about 6mph). Crunch some gears, clip some kerbs. Finally progression is made to drive in town. Pick up speed on the backroads. Get comfortable with the movements. Increase awareness of reading your surroundings. Pass the test (with 12 minors…).

If you drive often enough and concentrate on what you are doing then you get better. It becomes automatic. Then you drive abroad.

Logically it isn’t that difficult. You just drive on the other side of the road. Yet as soon as we stop concentrating fully, we reach for the gearstick on the wrong side, we freak out when we approach a roundabout, we find ourselves on the wrong side of the road.

Why?

Because your brain loves short-cuts

The way your brain deals with information is to send signals across neurons to create your thoughts. Neurons are like a piece of wire that connects the regions of the brain together to link sensory input (e.g. I see something) to your cognitive areas (I think this). To make these biological links into fast acting short-cuts, your brain chemistry coats the neurons that were used with a substance called myelin. Myelin is like a superconductor for neurons, which cut down on thinking time. It gets sensory input and send the information down the paths it already knows. Your thoughts and actions become subconsciously automatic (which is why you can end up driving on the wrong side of the road).

As you grow and develop, you build up an internal picture of how the world works and your place within it. Your myelin coated subconscious network creates a basic operating system for who you are, how you think and what you do. This superfast operating system is essential for us to understand and make sense of the world. Speed of thought has massive plus points (you don’t want to approach every situation like it was the first time) but it brings with it a host of challenges.

You make automatic assumptions about others. You catastrophise an outcome. You tell yourself something isn’t possible for you to do. All at a level that happens so fast that the reasoning behind the thought doesn’t come into your consciousness, your thought just becomes ‘the truth’.

If you don’t challenge that ‘truth’ the myelin keeps coating your neurons reinforce that thinking. Remember, your biology is designed to keep taking short-cuts. Unless you decide to question yourself and bring that subconscious process into your conscious decision making you are not making an active choice, you can be basing your actions on assumptions and thinking errors.

This is not easy to do. It can feel like you are trying to slow down a train by hanging on to the side and digging in your heels. You have to be prepared to be completely honest with yourself about your reasoning. You may have to face some new truths you didn’t want to hear and to push yourself way outside of your comfort zone.

But the rewards are huge

You become sharper. You trust yourself more. You make good decisions. You start to realise that the only limit to your potential is you and that challenging yourself is exciting. You are in control of your thoughts, your actions and your destiny. So try asking yourself these questions:

What is the one behaviour that I am looking to change?

What is the resistance that I will encounter (thoughts) when I try to make the change?

  • If I fail then I won’t recover
  • I will lose the respect of the people who matter to me
  • I can’t do this
  • It will take too much time

How do I know any of those assumptions are true?

How will I choose to react when those thoughts come into my head?

Myelin works both ways. If you reinforce positive thinking and a state of mind where you test your limits then those pathways will become reinforced. You become less afraid of failure, your self-belief grows exponentially, your identity and place in the world shifts to a new chapter. It’s worth the journey.

Take the rewarding road to rewire your brain or stagnate in your existing thinking patterns.

Make your choice.