Our brains like consistency.
What you tell yourself about your circumstance, life, who you are, and what’s happening to you, is a story.
The story in your mind about you, your capabilities and traits follow well-worn neural paths and these paths are reinforced every time you rehearse and repeat your story mentally and every time you take action or stop yourself from taking action so your story of you is consistent.
When you keep thinking the same things and keep doing what you’ve always done you are hardwiring neural consistency.
When you want to change
What if our current circumstances and anticipation of the future are less than what we want?
To change find the sweet spot
The first step is to be brave and step outside the comfort and into the place of fear. Now you don’t have to submerge yourself in fear, so you drown in overwhelm.
Remember comfort is seductive and it will try to pull you back. You can just hover right in between comfort and fear and I call this sweet spot – the edge of comfort.
The edge of your comfort zone is the edge of the fear zone
This sweet spot won’t overwhelm you but it does require you to become familiar with your thoughts and internal chatter that flows through your brain.
Your thoughts are responsible for the outcomes and behaviour that limits you.
Here are three examples of limiting behavioural outcomes:
- Mary visits the doctor weekly because she worries about her health constantly and believes something bad will happen.
- Bob won’t go for the job interview because he believes he’s too old to get it.
- Jo has stopped attending parties because he believes he’s a boring nerd.
Two steps to change the outcomes in your life
- Notice the story in your mind and let it pass without attaching to it
- Upset the story by taking action that takes in the direction of what you value.
The seductive pull of the comfort zone
Now moving against the comfortable story will take you out of your comfort zone and it may even feel wrong or awkward. You might find you are flooded with thoughts and mind stories that try to pull you back to the old consistent patterns… but stay with it.
It’s natural that when the consistency in the brain is upset, there’s resistance
Your brain doesn’t like inconsistency and your neural networks will always want to pull you back to the paths of least resistance. It’s important that when you notice your thoughts that you take mindful moments and choose the behaviour you want for yourself.
Over time, when we change our behaviour to something positive, our brain is forced find a story that fits.
- Mary can reduce the doctor visits to once every couple of months
- Bob can attend job interviews that suit him
- Jo can take small steps to start socializing again
Our internal dialogue and thoughts will automatically look for circumstances, opportunities, observations that validate our experiences and a new new story will eventually develop.
- In time, Mary may learn that she is healthy
- Bob can view himself and his capacities differently
- Jo can see himself as a unique individual with talent.
Are you aware of your mind’s story about you?
If this is holding you back and you want something better, talking to someone may help.
Together we can establish small steps, to create new neural paths and hardwire the outcomes you want for yourself.
Iman Iskander is a Clinical Social Worker with a psychotherapy practice in Sydney. She is passionate about interactional intelligence -between people and within each person. She specialises in human interactions, mindful relationships and self-mastery. Iman holds engaging workshops for the public and in the corporate sector in Sydney CBD.