Hey you…positive thinking and it’s effects on the brain

Hey you...

I am working on some of this myself. However, I do feel as if over thinking is necessary in certain situations. Reminders are needed from time to time.

Here is a secret about positive thinking that actually isn’t a secret:

Positive thinking really does change your brain. Not in some magical kind of way, but in a real physical way.

The science is called neuroplasticity. It means that our thoughts can change the structure and function of our brains. The idea was first introduced by William James in 1890, but it was soundly rejected by scientists who uniformly believed the brain is rigidly mapped out, with certain parts of the brain controlling certain functions. If that part is dead or damaged, the function is altered or lost. Well, it appears they were wrong. It has the power to change its own structure, even for those with the severe neurological afflictions. People with problems like strokes, cerebral palsy, and mental illness can train other areas of their brains through repetitive mental and physical activities. It is completely life-altering.

So what does this have to do with positive thinking and with you?

It means that repetitive positive thought and positive activity can rewire your brain and strengthen brain areas that stimulate positive feelings. Have you ever found yourself trapped in obsessive over-thinking about a problem or in a state of anxiety or worry that lasts for days or even weeks? It drains your energy, affects your sleep, and spirals your mood and outlook on life. Focusing on your problem only strengthens the worry function in your brain. When you find yourself in that cycle of worry or compulsive thinking, remember the three R’s — rename, re-frame, and redirect. When the worry begins, mentally yell “Stop!” Rename the issue by reminding yourself that worry isn’t real. Rename it as a compulsive reaction, not reality. Re-frame your thinking by focusing on positive or distracting thoughts, even if you still feel anxious. Force yourself to think different thoughts. Redirect your actions. Go do something uplifting, fun or mentally engaging. The key is following these steps repeatedly, every time you worry obsessively, to break the pattern and rewire your brain. I am not saying that this always works, but it is nice to have a little knowledge about our brains and how they work.

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One thought on “Hey you…positive thinking and it’s effects on the brain

  1. good ole William James was way ahead of his time! thanks for this great refresher 🙂

    Like

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