What is brain plasticity?
Brain plasticity is your brain’s ability to create new ways of being, as a response to changes in your environment.
For instance, when you learn to play a new musical instrument or study a new language, new connections and pathways are created between different neurons in your brain, as a response to the skills you are learning.
The more a neuro-pathway is used, the stronger and more habituated it becomes. Back to your cello, brain plasticity means that the more you bow your instrument, the stronger your brain’s cello-playing connections become, and your bowing becomes increasingly habituated and automatic. This is how you start making brain plasticity work for you.
Similarly, anxiety is also a result of brain plasticity. Anxiety is triggered by an unpleasant event occurring (environmental trigger) and you thinking about it (brain adaption). And then you thinking about that unpleasant event again, and then still more beyond that. And with all of your musing over this event, new neural connections become habituated, making it easier and earlier for you to fall into the automatic habit of anxious brooding.
Now, this is a simplification of the phenomena of anxiety, but you get the general idea, at least with how it relates to brain plasticity.
The other side of the brain plasticity coin also applies. In the same way that repeatedly using a neural connection strengthens it, ceasing to use a brain pathway helps make it less habituated.
For example, if you don’t speak Italian for twenty-five years after receiving your Renaissance Studies degree, it’s likely going to take you a bit of work to get back into the swing of things. You’ll recall the language, but it’ll initially be tougher than it was way-back-when.
Recall that neuroplasticity is a neutral concept, meaning that depending on its manifestation, it can either help or hinder you. Its value to you is based on what’s connecting in your brain.
So what can you do to develop events of brain plasticity that help you get ahead? How can you work on making brain plasticity work for you?
Imagination and visualization.
When you rehearse a new skill in your mind, the effect is very similar to physical practice. So when you imagine yourself playing that new cello tune, chattering in Italian, successfully negotiating that new contract, and giving a winning presentation in front of the board, your physical performance will be upped by the mental practice.
Awareness and action.
Everything you do reinforces pathways associated with what you are doing, and everything you aren’t doing weakens other connections. Therefore, when you want to boost a quality – go ahead and DO IT!
Do you want to get better at selling? If you do, start selling! Brain plasticity means that when you sell, you get better at selling.
And remember – if selling (or any other talent you’re strengthening) is new or uncomfortable for you, it’s fine, and indeed, a good idea, to start small and work up from there. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that.
The important thing is that you are repeating that which you wish to enforce.
Understand that you may initially feel uncomfortable.
Learning new skills, whether it be running or public speaking or writing, takes mental muscle and practice. And often initially feels uncomfortable, or even terrifying, in many cases.
Be patient with yourself, understand that it’s a process, and simply keep on going.
Encourage yourself by remembering that each time you practice your new skill, your brain is learning and adapting, and you are growing more and more skilled.
Just keep on going, and recognize that you are awesome!
Practical Self Development.
Practical Self Development is an incredible self-development process that helps you make brain plasticity work for you.
When you work with Practical Self Development with me, you build and reinforce brain pathways that work FOR YOU, not against you. The result is greater momentum in the direction you want, less stress and anxiety, and increased productivity.
Book a no-charge, no-obligation Clarity Consultation today to find out more about Practical Self Development and to see if you’re a good fit.