Neuroplasticity is defined as “the potential that the brain has to reorganize by creating new neural pathways to adapt, as it needs. Think of the neurological changes being made in the brain as the brain’s way of tuning itself to meet your needs.” WhatIsNeuroplasticity.com
I hope those last few words catch your attention. What are your needs when it comes to your relationships, and how can you get your brain to tune itself to those needs on purpose or even on command?
Many of us need to learn how to control the stories we tell ourselves about others. Though we have little control over the initial thoughts that pass through our minds when presented with new or troubling information, we do have control over how long we allow such thoughts to linger. We can also control what thoughts we allow to replace those initial thoughts.
When you become more and more intentional about replacing unhelpful thoughts (e.g., fictional stories you’re making up about another person based on little to no information), you’re exercising your brain’s neuroplasticity.
And just like physical exercise and muscle memory, the more you accomplish this mental task, the easier it should be for you to do so the next time and the time after that. You’re training your brain how to better relate to others by refusing to allow the made-up stories you tell yourself to be the only stories you tell yourself.
As I said in the chapter on presence in The Stories We Tell Ourselves, “The mind’s neuroplasticity allows you to give up on the relationship in your head in order to focus on true connection with the real person in front of you, and much of this work begins with an internal awareness of your thoughts.”
So the next time you’re forming thoughts before really taking all of the facts into account, think about giving your brain a quick mental workout