Whether you've been aware of it or not, your brain has been telling you a story about your own life. It's been telling you a story about who you are, what your personality is like, your strengths and weaknesses, how likely you are to stick to certain habits, and how easily you give up on taking care of yourself. Maybe it's been telling you that success and happiness are for other people, but not for you. That you're doomed to repeat your same old mistakes. That you're not very good at sticking to habits. That you don't really commit to changing your life for the better. Maybe the life that you thought you wanted to live just isn't in the cards for you. Maybe your brain has been telling you that you're a shy person, or an extroverted person. Maybe it's been telling you that you suck at public speaking because you get way too nervous and that you could never speak in front of thousands of people.
Some people are extremely aware of the fact that their brain tells them certain stories and narratives. Other people live their life totally oblivious to this. They just think that things are the way that they are. And this can actually become a problem for a lot of people if they remain unaware of the fact that their brain is constantly crafting a narrative about their life, tendencies, the people around them, and the role that they play in the universe. And we can't stop these stories from forming, because the subconscious is extremely perceptive. The subconscious picks up on basically everything. I've mentioned before that over 90% of our overall mental function is subconscious. Bottom line is that we are constantly observing; we take note of every sight and smell, every taste and texture, and everything that everyone says about us. Every small success and bitter failure is woven into the story that we tell ourselves. And we believe this story.
You know, we kind of have no choice. We have to pick up on patterns, otherwise the world seems too chaotic. But I think the problem about this is that what we think happens often isn't reality. We are highly emotional creatures. We interpret things with a lot of subjectivity, and a lot of these opinions were formed when we were so young that we didn't even really have the ability to think rationally. You know, like if your older brother decides to play with the cool kid on the block instead of you, as the younger brother, you might feel really left out and you might think that nobody likes you or nobody cares about you. And if a couple more situations like this start to happen, it can really start to develop a belief that you are not fun to hang out with. You know, no one really likes you. You're not worthy of love. And you'll carry that with you subconsciously through life–having no idea that that belief is there, but it will serve as sort of a fundamental character trait woven into your story. And it gets even trickier because human beings like consistency. Because it is woven into the fundamental framework, or the lens in which we view the world, we will tend to reject new information that contradicts the story we have been telling ourselves for years. We will throw out new information in favor of ideas that help confirm our cognitive bias, things in line with the story that we've always told ourselves. And that really sucks because a lot of the time, the stories we tell ourselves don't serve us. We might think it serves us because we think it's the truth, but the proof of its efficacy is in the pudding. If you're not where you want to be in life, if you feel unsatisfied on a day-to-day basis, and if you don't have a sense of inner peace, there's a good chance that your story isn't serving you.
So what's the solution? Well, thankfully, there's this thing called neuroplasticity, which is kind of a general umbrella term that refers to the brain's ability to modify, change and adapt both structure and function throughout life and in response to experience. And if you think about it, this is probably the most optimistic psychological discovery in history for people who don't really like the way that they behave, or the thought patterns that they tend to dive into. And this is because it is possible that by introducing new stimuli, experiencing new situations, or behaving in a different way over time can actually change the literal structure of your brain. You can redesign your brain in a way that better serves you. And really the only thing stopping you is cognitive bias and cognitive dissonance. But it will feel uncomfortable to behave in a different way. It's going to feel unnatural. It's going to feel like it's not really you doing these things. But I can guarantee you that if you practice these new behaviours long enough, it will really start to feel more natural. And that’s not just some empty platitude. Those things will start to feel like you. By doing these things over a long period of time, your subconscious starts to actually develop evidence that you are this way. And when your subconscious sees evidence from the past and the present of this new behavior, it will predict and assume confidently that you are capable of continuing this lifestyle.
So it all starts with awareness. It all starts by taking a step back and trying to figure out what story your brain is telling yourself about yourself. Who are you according to you? What things do you usually do? And what behaviors do you engage in day to day that reaffirms that belief? How can you modify those behaviors to better serve you so that when your subconscious naturally does its thing and observes your behavior, it has some evidence to go off of that you are indeed this new person?
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