Have you ever heard the excuse “I’m just wired this way”? I know I have – and I’ve probably made the same statement myself! How would you like to know that you are able to re-wire your brain to NOT be that way so you could live a more fulfilling / happy / joyful / abundant life?
I started reading (AKA listening to) a new book “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself” by Dr. Joe Dispenza and though I can’t even begin to fully comprehend everything he’s talking about, I’ve already had several moments of clarity and recognition of habits and thought patterns he describes in the book.
This morning I had a flash of insight and a great analogy of what he’s talking about.
Think of your brain as a tree – the spinal column being the trunk and the synapses and neuron pathways being the branches and leaves. As we’re growing up, we learn things and form opinions about our world and ourselves – the branches and leaves grow. So these branches are there for a long time. Now, it’s not enough to think “I want to change” and it’s done – we’re not a squirrel able to jump from one tree to another and BOOM, we’re changed.
And this is why it’s so hard to change – we try to jump from one set of “bad” habits and thought patterns to a new set of “good” habits and thought patterns without understanding the process. We get frustrated when we backslide or revert to old ways and change seems impossible. This is because the old “bad” habits and thought patterns are still in place and the new “good” habits don’t have a foundation. In order to make actual change, we have to prune those “bad” branches away.
This is where the analogy comes in. When you want to stimulate growth on a tree – or most any plant, I believe, which I used a similar analogy in a previous blog post “Stop watering Dead Plants” – you need to prune it. When you prune a branch, it never grows back the same. Every time you subject your body and mind to a new habit or thought pattern, you’re taking a swipe of a saw to the old branches. You continue to do this until you finally cut through the old branch – but it doesn’t stop there. You have to keep on exposing yourself to the new habits and thought patterns until new growth happens – then you have to keep going.
Forming new habits and thought patterns is hard! The longer you’ve had them, the harder it is to saw through the old branches. If I had the knowledge, insight, and thought patterns I have now but in my twenties, I may have been able to cut through the branches like it was maple wood – soft and easier to cut – but being in my forties, I’ve had these thought patterns and habits I’m trying to change for much longer, so it’s like trying to cut through oak wood – hard and needing more effort.
When I was a Personal Trainer, I often spoke about the “path of least resistance” – basically, the body will continue a certain range of motion because that’s what it’s used to, that’s what it knows, and therefore, easier – whether or not it’s proper form. This is why I don’t like relying on machines when I’m exercising – because the stronger muscle will compensate causing imbalances within the body; the stronger muscle will continue getting stronger and the weaker muscle will continue to get weaker.
Who knew the brain does the same thing… but it makes complete sense when it’s explained in simple terms. Bring on the analogy!
When you want to make change and you start making conscious efforts into this change and you start pruning away the branches, it requires a lot of effort for the new growth to start… but once it starts, it gets easier and goes faster. However, this new path is hard and requires a lot more effort than the previous habits and thought processes. Your previous way of living and thinking was easy – it required unconscious thought as that’s how you’ve always been. Now that you’re trying to change, your body/mind may try to resist by reverting back to the old ways – or trying to. This is why people constantly fail; because changing seems so hard and doesn’t happen instantaneously to the decision to actually make change.
So why is it so easy to “fall off the wagon”? Because even when you prune the unwanted branches, they’re, in fact, still there. Hey, it’s an analogy, it’s not perfect! You’ve heard of “phantom limb”, right? When someone loses a limb but it still feels like it’s there? That can happen to anything – I had it after I shaved my head. I’d be standing in a breeze and I’d go and brush the hair off my forehead… but there’s nothing there! So imagine that with the tree analogy; even when you cut the branches, it’s still there as a phantom limb. And even if you fall off the wagon, it doesn’t mean it’ll become corporeal again – unless you choose to remain there. As long as you keep getting up and returning to the new habits and thought processes you’re trying to create, the phantom limb will gradually become less and less.
But it takes time and most people are too impatient to keep trying until it becomes their new normal. At this present time, we are in the “now” age. Things are so automated and there’s so much available instantaneously, people expect everything to happen immediately. If they have a question, they turn to Google. Hungry but don’t want to cook, they order delivery. Don’t have the money, use a credit card. Want to read a book, download it. If a person didn’t want to leave their house, they don’t have to! They can order groceries and have them delivered, they can do their banking online, food can be ordered and ready to eat when it arrives at the door, you can buy anything online and have it delivered to your door. It’s a wonderful time to be a hermit!
But why would you want to?
There’s so many beautiful places to go, and wonderful things to see and experience. And the best part, it doesn’t have to be exotic – it can be in your own back yard! When you stop and slow down and experience things around you instead of passing through everything around you, it opens a whole new world; feeling the wind on your skin, the sun’s heat, listening to bugs or laughter off in the distance, the smell of BBQ wafting in your direction, hearing the crunch of gravel beneath your feet, or take your shoes off and walk in the grass… there’s so much you can experience and appreciate with no effort other than just being present.
Stop thinking about doing and just be.