April 13, 2017

Transform Your Thinking

In many ways, the brain is like the Top of Mount Everest. It’s tough terrain to explore. There’s a lot we don’t know about its landscape, and there’s only a few with the inside knowledge to tell us about it. Studying the brain gives us many benefits. It shows us how habits form, why we react to experiences with fear, why we favor certain preferences, and how neural pathways develop into behaviors. The brain tells us a lot about who we really are as a person, and even as a leader.

Several books have come out in recent years on a subject called neuroplasticity, one in particular by Norman Doidge called “The Brain That Changes Itself.” Doidge says the brain is ‘plastic’ and subject to change based on experiences we have throughout our lives. The idea is fairly new and somewhat controversial as it contradicts years of scientific opinion claiming that the brain is a closed circuit with little room to adapt. 

But Doidge claims:

“The brain is a far more open system than we ever imagined, and nature has gone very far to help us perceive and take in the world around us. It has given us a brain that survives in a changing world by changing itself.” 

Have you ever heard someone say “Things are just not going to change”? I’ve heard this dozens of times from people I’ve coached. If neuroplasticity is a real thing, that means our brain can learn new tricks. This should come as welcome news to us! It’s time to believe bigger, advance our thinking and behavior so every aspect of our life and work can flourish.

Let’s discuss how to harness the power of the brain to change our thinking and build healthy habits. First, let’s tackle the false beliefs that act as roadblocks to change. These are the things that hold us back from achieving our potential due to long entrenched and wrong ways of viewing ourselves. A self-limiting belief is an obstacle to success that may be a doubt or a lie you’ve believed about yourself due to past disappointments. Before we attempt to change our habits, we must examine our beliefs. Without self-examination and the counsel of trusted advisors in our life, we will never be liberated from poor thinking and bad habits. Here is some insight on beliefs that limit our potential.

Self-limiting beliefs can look like this:

  • I have no control over my reactions to this present situation.
  • Circumstances will never change and rarely work in my favor.
  • Change is temporary because I am going to go right back to how I was before.
  • People will think less of me if I fail trying to do a new thing.

Go ahead – make a list of your self-limiting beliefs. After making a list and identifying your self-limiting beliefs, you can beat them. The quicker we recognize self-limiting beliefs the faster we can dismantle them and move onto building new patterns of thinking based upon truth. We soon gain greater control over our behavior, that changes everything for the better. If the brain is malleable and new habits can be learned at any age, this means that we can change too.

This means:

  • Replacing comfort foods with fruits and vegetables or exercise when we feel stressed and are looking for an outlet that provides relief.
  • Replacing yelling at a coworker with taking more frequent breaks throughout the day so we don’t reach our boiling point and take it out on someone else.
  • Going to bed early to ensure adequate rest instead of zoning out on hours of Netflix to come down from the stress of work. 

Every new habit can be a reward for removing poor thinking and false beliefs so we can experience healthier alternatives available to us. At any point in life we can forge new pathways in our brain that become habits, which is an incredible reality we are just now discovering. Why not jump on the bandwagon and try out a few of these recommendations to eliminate self-limiting beliefs? Begin tapping into the reality that if the brain can change for the better, so can we.

To quote Charles Duhigg: “Champions don’t do extraordinary things, they follow the habits they’ve learned.” 

To your excellence in forming healthy habits,

Coach Greg