Changing our thoughts and habits Part 1: how does it physically work in the brain?

I just finished reading ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’ by Robin Sharma. I had a couple of issues with the narration but what I want to talk about here is the issue with some of the content. Overall, I think the author had good intentions and wanted to convey as many ideas as possible. But I had an issue with the parts where there were mentions of how much it would take to transform your life.

Another thing is that even if you apply a habit perfectly for 21 days, human beings’ complexity often does not allow complete changes in a short time because other things come up when we change one thing. Personal development is a journey and often it takes years. Sometimes, even after years, we still have a lot of things to improve.

by Betul Erbasi on Speed of Personal Development
Quote by Tamara Kulish, image from clipart

The struggle to change

I too struggle with books that promise my life will be completely transformed within a certain amount of time if I follow their guidelines. It took years to go through my transformation, and I was highly motivated.

I do best with baby steps, and a gradual dripping-in method, anything too drastic and I start to feel anxiety, even panic.

I did do research into changing habits, and I learned about Neural Pathways.

What are Neural Pathways?

Quote by Tamara Kulish, image from clipart

Every thought we have, and every action we do creates a new Neural Pathway. When we repeat a thought or action over and over, the pathways become more and more ingrained, because they are basically laying one over the other over another, effectively creating roads and then highways. Our brains use these as wonderful helpers in life so we don’t constantly need to think every step through.

This is why older habits and thought patterns feel much more difficult to overcome because those neural highways become an automatic go-to.

When we start thinking new thoughts or doing new actions, the neural pathways are so thin and narrow in comparison to the old ones, but with repetition and perseverance, they become stronger and wider.

(C) Science E-Metaphysics

What happens to the old ones?

With disuse, over time they start to fade away, becoming less and less of a natural go-to for our brains. It does take mindful repetition of the new actions and thoughts to get to the stage where they feel natural enough to become a go-to.

Often we give up when we’re only partially through this process because the old neural pathways are still exerting a powerful pull.

People often criticize people who start, stop, start-stop, many times, feeling the person just isn’t trying hard enough, but in reality, every time we start and stop, we’re still laying down some new neural pathways. With enough attempts, many people do finally succeed, because the accumulation of the neural pathways has built up enough to provide the traction needed to keep going.

So the trick is, to keep going! Keep picking yourself up, and keep trying!

Eventually, we create enough neural pathways to keep on that pathway, meanwhile, the old ones have a chance to fade more and more!

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27 thoughts on “Changing our thoughts and habits Part 1: how does it physically work in the brain?

  1. Thank you for this very helpful post, Tamara. You’ve mentioned Neural Pathways to me before, and I read your post, ‘Rewiring the Brain’ – This time, the information seemed clearer despite the crippling fear I’m feeling about my counselling ending on Wednesday. I’m not sure I can make the changes I need to make until after then because, currently, it feels like my world is going to implode on me that day. It might sound drastic and ridiculous, but it’s how I feel at the moment. I’m going to read this again and then read Part 2, which you shared a couple of days ago. I’m getting very behind reading other bloggers’ posts right now – I don’t think my brain being scrambled is helping much. Thank you, as always, for your wise advice, knowledge and information. Happy New Year to you. Xx 🌷💗

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ellie, take baby steps kid! There’s absolutely no need to try to tackle everything at once! I started with what I was able to do and built up from there. I highly recommend doing that too!

      Pick 1 thing you feel comfortable doing that will help you. Keep repeating that 1 thing until you feel comfortable moving on to the next thing! Baby steps are good steps, because they still keep us moving in the direction we want to go in, but at a pace we can manage!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. PS, thanks for your positive feedback! You are very good at this! Maybe a baby step is just to start cheering yourself on when you do something, anything! Cheer yourself on continuously!

      Happy New Year to you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I stumbled across “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” in my early-20s and, even then, I understood the point, but it wasn’t my cup of tea. I’ve always been fascinated by rewiring the brain through our thinking, but it just struck me that neurolingistic programing (how we talk to ourselves) can change our wiring, but substances like lion’s mane mushroom also support neurogenesis (new neural connections). Too many confounding factors, but I would *love* to see research on whether thinking and substances stack, multiple, or otherwise affect one’s ability to change their thinking. Change can be so hard, but what if there were such tools to support people along that journey?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your feedback! Yes, I believe that some research has been going into different mushrooms, particularly those with Psilocybin. The research has been shown to be promising to help treat addictions and many psychological disorders.

      In the meanwhile, there are positive things that we can start to do for ourselves!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting post! Never heard of Neutral Pathways. Although I get a lot of information from books on transforming habits, a lot of them don’t work for me–it doesn’t stick/make sense/etc. BUT…sometimes I find a gem recommendation and focus on that..and, apparently, new Neutral Pathways take over. Thanks so much for the post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so encouraging to hear, isn’t it? I was blown away when I learned about them and how they work, for it means that even if we do something slowly over time we will see results!

      I get it about learning even 1 new thing from a book or webinar, I’ve done that too. I get too overwhelmed with a huge influx of information. I learn best when I can take 1 new thing, think on it and be able to slowly incorporate it into myself. Thanks for your insightful feedback!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As you’ve noted, I’ve also found that creating new Neural Pathways takes a lifetime of trying, failing, picking myself up, and trying again. In other words, we must never give up. As women, we face an additional challenge of changing Neural Pathways created over millions of years under a patriarchal system of beliefs about who we are as women and our place within society. Thank you for all the informative and insightful posts you have shared with us throughout this year. Blessings in the New Year ahead ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, indeed it can take years and years of steadfast work. Those old ingrained ways take a long time to overcome. Thanks so much for the blessings! I appreciate your kind words. Wishing you and your readers a wonderful New Year too!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I didn’t really enjoy “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” to be honest. I get the point of it and I know it’s encouraging to some. But I feel like that book and many others in the same genre tend to be very toxic positivity adjacent. I like what you said at the end about how we need to keep trying and eventually we’ll succeed because I feel the same way. Change takes much longer than people think. It can take years and that’s okay.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree! I was so discouraged when I read those kinds of self help books because I was blaming myself for everything and I felt that there was something terribly wrong with me if I couldn’t make the time-line they set out. Only when I gave myself permission to just give myself all the time I needed and to unplug myself from those toxically positive mindsets. Who needs that? It felt so judged!

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Right?! We hope to only have the good and understandably get discouraged when it isn’t, but we need to keep going and not give up. I found that part hard to do but then I saw the pattern, than the bad stuff doesn’t last forever, that it’s possible to change even that. Unless we go through some stuff, we don’t grow.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. It’s because some people try to normalise just having the good which I think makes it worse. Once you realise that everything isn’t so black and white you start to do so much better in life.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. Yes, I like how you say “normalize just having the good”. That perfectly describes what happens. We become complacent and even entitled when we normalize the good. It becomes expected instead of us feeling grateful when it happens!

              Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Michele! Yes, I was hoping to provide a counterpoint of sanity to any well intended efforts people may try at this time of y year. I prefer the baby step method myself, for the same reasons as you!

      Liked by 2 people

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