Affirmations create new neural pathways

email newsletter:blog 7.26.22

We hear messages from every angle to think positively, look on the bright side, or be grateful.

Yet if you're anything like me, your brain interjects a BIG "yeah, but" or maybe a simple "hmpfh" squeaks out of your mouth in disbelief.

Our internal defense systems, old patterns for safety, and subconscious core negative beliefs are right there to raise a flag in disagreement the minute something positive is introduced into our system.

This doesn't make you defective, disordered, or broken dear one.

It makes you a human being seeking safety from a world that has disappointed you over and over for believing you could be better, or do better.

Therefore, our brain steps into action to defend against any foreign concept by giving us what seems like a billion reasons why affirmations do not fit and will never be our reality.

Let the opposition begin!

Let's take a simple affirmation as an example:

I believe in myself. I am strong and capable of handling all that comes my way today in a kind and compassionate way.

This affirmation could help us through a project at work, a presentation at school, or a difficult conversation we're about to have with a partner or family member where we need to set boundaries.

Yet, you may read it and notice your mind starts to present a list of opposition. (remember this is what brains do...)

  • Affirmations! This is silly...
  • This is stupid!
  • This will never work...
  • You sound so full of yourself!
  • I'm just supposed to think myself better?

If that doesn't deter us and make us stop trying, our brains get more personal:

  • Why would you believe in yourself? You failed the last test...
  • You couldn't stand up to your mom on Saturday? What's different today?
  • You didn't even get out of bed until noon...
  • Truth is you're really no good at life.
  • and so on...

The point here is that if your brain sends you an objection (or 50) as you try to recite an affirmation, then your brain is doing it's job to keep you in homeostasis... or the same.

But wait!!

We can listen to our strong objections and begin to tenderly change the wording so that it can be held in a more open way by our ever protective brain or any part of us that may be struggling to accept that this new concept could be helpful.

We are staying with ourselves in a compassionate and loving way at the very point where we would have stopped trying in the past. 

Affirmation re-wording exercise:

Allow yourself to re-read an affirmation while holding all of the reactions you felt and heard above.

Sample Affirmation:

I believe in myself. I am strong and capable of handling all that comes my way today in a kind and compassionate way.

Listening to your Inner World and calling upon your wise self, re-write your original affirmation in a way that feels aligned with your heart and do-able to your mind.

I believe in myself. I am strong and capable to handle of handling all that comes my way today in a kind and compassionate  loving way.

The end result will feel like an affirmation that can support you in your day and your mind will feel less likely to challenge it.

I am able to handle all that comes my way today in a loving way.

Why Affirmations can help us...

Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to change over our lifetime. Our brain is capable of reorganizing and growing new neural pathways moment after moment. This is so amazing and comforting to me!

With affirmations, as we repeat phrases that feel comforting, our brain begins to build new neural pathways around the new words we are saying.

Old neural pathways are like deep crevices in our brains. Like a flowing river where the water has created deep grooves so the water can flow easily.

New neural pathways form as we begin to practice new thoughts or behaviors. The river splinters into different directions and the stream of water gently creates new channels.

email newsletter:blog 7.26.22

Just as our old beliefs can come quickly rushing back because of many repetitions of the old message... we can begin to build new beliefs with repetition of an affirmation.

It's not woo-woo medicine, it's science in action!

Repetition is key. Just as we memorize lyrics to a song... slowly over time, until one day we are singing along without even a question that we know the words.

Takeaway to try...

Challenge your brain to build a new pathway so you can begin to form a more compassionate self-concept. 

First off, find a word or brief affirmation that will soothe your soul.

Maybe it's a sweet saying that feels like a hug to your Inner Child or is encouraging to a discouraged part within.

Maybe it's a new supportive song lyric or quote that sparks a positive change within.

Use the exercise above to re-word your affirmation until it fits with your heart, body, and mind.

Recite your affirmation often throughout the day... at least 5 times!

Write it in your journal.

Put it on a stickie note to attach to your bathroom mirror, refrigerator, or in your car.

Remember if your brain does it's brain thing again and speaks out with a negativity bias, this is an indication that your system is feeling overwhelmed. Take a deep breathe and give yourself a break. 

In time you can try again. For even as we simply try something new... we are building neural pathways.

I am able to handle all that comes my way today in a loving way.




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