You're Living on AutopilotNov 21, 2021
I say this with the utmost respect and love AND I also direct this statement at myself.
Did you know that your brain has evolved under two important principles? The first is safety and the second is efficiency. Your brain has developed instinctual, automatic responses to make sure you move out of harms way. It also relies on familiar behaviors that can be implemented with very little energy, the goal is to be as efficient as possible, rather than learn from scratch new habits for every single thought, emotion, and action.
Although this is an extremely efficient, and often effective process, it comes at a cost. These remembered patterns run most of your life and thus in many ways, you are more or less a collection of habits, many of which you’re barely aware of.
Think about it – ever arrive somewhere and not really remember if you stopped at that stop sign you know you passed?
How about eating two cookies and not even realizing you ever reached for the second one?
How about watching hours of TV, not really sure what you originally turned the TV on to watch?
How about picking up your phone and tapping on the social icon, when you meant to look at your email?
This is called automaticity and it’s why you keep getting results you don’t like. When you are acting, thinking and responding on autopilot, there isn't a lot of room for change.
BUT WAIT – there’s hope! For so long, people believed that they couldn’t change their destiny – my family has diabetes, so I’m destined to get it. There’s obesity in my family, so that’s what will happen to me. My family never graduated college, so I don’t have the ability to be smart. But research shows you have the power and ability to change the brains habitual responses and patterns, it’s called neuroplasticity – this is the brain’s ability to change itself.
Don’t fall victim to the story of: I never succeed, so why would I this time? Or: I always quit working out after so many weeks. These are habitual stories that with effort, have the ability to change.
There are three ways that neuroplasticity can change the map of your mind: neurogenesis – creating MORE neurons in your brain – in an adult brain, this happens in key areas like the hippocampus as you learn something new. Hebb’s Rule- when neuron’s are connected repeatedly, that path gets stronger, creating bigger and easier paths to travel. The more you practice something (exercise, positive self-talk) the more those neurons are communicating and therefore creating a bigger and easier path. Myelin – a fatty sheath that surrounds different parts of certain neurons. Myelin is known to improve the function of neurons which can create efficiency and better connections between neurons.
So how do you change the make-up of your brain and habitual responses and habits, you ask?!
- Awareness! Awareness is the first step to any change. If you’re not aware of your habitual actions, responses or attitudes, how can you change them? Awareness is about observing ourselves in the moment without judgement; observe your thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Research has shown that meditation, mindfulness, breath work and self-reflection can dramatically change the brain.
- Intention! When you become aware of your habitual responses, you allow yourself the space to make a choice: go down the old path, or create and strengthen a new one. Intention is about deciding how you want to think, feel and act.
- Action! Sustained focus and consistent action to create new habitual responses that will serve you; this goes for anything – nutrition, mindset, self-talk, movement, sleep habits, etc.
I encourage you to start today. What you desire is possible, it will take time and effort to change the old habitual patterns that have always gotten in your way but the change you desire is worth the time and effort.
New ways are possible and you’re the only one that can create them. Stop living on autopilot.
Are you ready to change your ways that aren’t serving you? Let’s go!
Ready to work with a registered nurse health coach?!
The time is NOW!