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Reprogram Your Brain, Change Your Life

Reprogram Your Brain, Change Your Life

Mental blocks. They’re referred to as limiting self-beliefs, negative anchors, and hereditary fears. They are the things that stop you from doing what you want to do, not because you don’t want to do them, but because you fool yourself into thinking you can’t.

Here are the first steps to reprogramming your brain and changing how you see the world.

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Rethink the Language You Use

The term “programming,” has been intentionally used. Language has a direct impact on your brain chemistry, which simply does as it’s told. Importantly, your brain has no option but to agree with what’s suggested if it’s offered no compelling alternatives, so when you tell it something is going to be hard, or huge, or impossible; it agrees. Through changing the terminology used, you can adjust your perceptions subconsciously, and in doing so adjust your brain chemistry ever so slightly, giving you an advantage over fear.
It’s hard to overcome fear, but easy to reprogram something.
Going for a long run on a hot day is difficult, but popping out for a jog is enjoyable.
If we make things large in our minds, they will become large in reality. Remember, your brain follows direct instruction, so offer it easier and more digestible presuppositions.

Teach Yourself That Life Is Good

You know that overwhelming feeling, when it seems like all you do in life is work? The tension in your chest that comes from feeling like you can’t escape, the headache that results from stress and the mysterious muscular pain that shouldn’t exist after sitting at a desk all week. Contrary to popular belief, stress doesn’t eventuate through hard work, but rather through not seeing any way out, or a light at the end of the tunnel. When you forget why you’re doing something, the relevance of it in relation to life diminishes – and you begin to question its validity, and then yours as the person completing it.

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“Why am I doing this?”

Through offering yourself a reward, you can put your brain in a more positive frame, thinking less about what needs to be done, and more about the end result. However, this can come with dire consequences, as anyone who’s been exposed to drug addiction, or alcoholism will attest to – make sure your reward creates a positive impact and doesn’t become your reason for doing everything. Addicts will look back fondly to their first years of substance abuse, the efforts they would put in at work, looking forward to that drink at the end of the day, before the drink became the only thing that mattered.

Discipline Yourself, and Your Mind

Most of us just think reactively, allowing in whatever images or comments that happen to be floating around. Through this, we are also reactive in our moods, which are dictated by our thoughts. It’s important to note that your experience of anything is simply an interpretation; it’s why one person can love an experience – skydiving for example – and how another can be terrified at the mere thought of it. Same experience, different interpretation.

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The same applies to daily living. We may choose to take other people’s behaviors or actions personally, and in doing so make ourselves angry, producing chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol, which were used by our ancient ancestors to prepare for battle, or retreat hurriedly from a predator, but serve little purpose when someone runs a red light in front of you.

Instead, depersonalize the event and treat it as an occurrence, rather than something that, “happened to you.” Realize that the world isn’t personally attacking you, and don’t allow feelings of self-pity or self-importance to cloud your judgment. You’ll experience an increase in the chemicals that produce happiness and inner peace, such as dopamine and serotonin, and most importantly, you’ll be able to handle stressful situations much more easily.

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Your brain is a computer, and when programmed with intention, it can reduce the impact of negative events, and encourage focused action towards the things you love.

Featured photo credit: Andrew Jasso via unsplash.com

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Rhys Knight

Head of Content at www.knight.global

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Last Updated on September 10, 2018

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]

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Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

Looking at images of loved ones

While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.

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In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]

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Exercise

Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.

Meditation

Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.

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In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.

With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

Featured photo credit: condesign via pixabay.com

Reference

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