Have you ever wanted to change a habit that has been with you for many years? It can be mentally and physically draining to change. One reason is that our brain has to change at the level of neurons (the brain cells that communicate with one another).
The brain has neural plasticity meaning it can change as you gain experiences. Your brain wants to make things easy for itself and conserve energy, so as you experience something the neurons inside the brain form connections in a certain pattern.
As you continue the activity or habit over time the relationship between these neurons become stronger and change shape to solidify their connection. This makes these connections more efficient and the brain uses less energy.
This also means experiences, like our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, are reflected at a micro-level within our cells. Does this mean we can’t change these pathways? No, the brain has the potential to keep this plasticity throughout a person’s life. The brain can, in a sense, be rewired as you change how you think, act and emote but changing these circuits are far from easy. It takes a lot of mental and physical energy to remodel these pathways that have formed deep groves in our brains from being used so often.
As we start a new habit or thought pattern, new pathways form while the old ones weaken. Shifting into a new habit can be difficult but it can be encouraging to know that the brain can change. Please be patient with yourself when embarking on practicing a new thought pattern or habit because your brain has been “wired” a certain way and must change at the cellular level. With time and repetition, you have the potential to build the pathways for new habits.