Step 5: Celebrate and Express GRATITUDE as the Changes Occur
The brain has a network of nerves called neurons, dynamic electrical wiring (of sorts) that convey the various incoming and outgoing ‘messages’, which helps to regulate how we each engage life. This activity is expressed through two formats of consciousness; the conscious state, which includes our dreams, wishes and imagination, and our subconscious state, which is our main state of consciousness (95% of each day) including our habits and programming. Everything I have been discussing in this series of blogs has been about how to have your subconscious state be programmed in a way that supports you in your creating a life that reflects your dreams and wishes. This is called neural pathway development and works because of the capacity for neural pathways to change, called neural-plasticity.
The more you rely on a particular set of behaviours, thoughts or emotions, the more established are the neural pathways that make that possible. As an analogy, think of habits being like one of those large ropes that are used to tie a ship to a dock or jetty. In contrast, when you imagine or have desires and wishes to experience something new in your life, that can be compared to a length of cotton thread. As you become more mindful of your new state of consciousness, more threads are added and the single thread takes on the appearance of looking more like string. The key here is that the only way (and this is only partly true in the human body) the string develops is if the large rope gives up some of its strands. Effectively that means that as the new neural pathway adds more strands, the old one has to forfeit some of its stands for that to happen. Effectively this means that an old habit’s neural pathway can potentially disappear once a new pathway is fully established.
As you can imagine, it can take time to make that transition. Every time you are mindful of your dreams and wishes, that is your more self-loving alternative, you add more strands to your new neural pathway. And every time you resort to your old patterns of behaviour, the stands are added back to the old neural pathway. This is why it is so difficult to change established habits.
Imagine if there was a magical way to speed up the rate at which the new stands were added to the new neural pathway, a turbo-charged function of sorts. Well, there is! In fact there are two levels of turbo-charging that collectively makes the transition of strands from the old to the new happen exponentially. In two words; gratitude and service. In this blog I will be looking at gratitude, and in the last blog in this series, (the next one) I will be discussing service.
To be grateful you first have to be aware of a benefit. In the context of changing the nature of the subconscious, it means that you have to be conscious of how you have benefited from your newly adopted behaviours, thoughts and emotions. In other words, you have to catch yourself doing it right, which in our vernacular means; doing it in a way that is kinder to yourself, to others and to the planet. This requires reflective time, either in the moment, which is called being present in the moment, or later on, say just before you go to bed, where you take time to reflect on what you have done throughout your day.
Having recognised your success, it is necessary to take a moment to acknowledge it and even celebrate it. To acknowledge it you might identify the way the more self-loving alternative has benefited you. You could even it share what you have done and how it has benefited you with your partner or a close friend. You might write about it in your journal. This is not unreasonable for most people, but how to celebrate is so foreign that most people have no idea what they could do.
This might sound funny, but you could do a little happy dance, or intentionally skip as you walk. You might put a gold star on your calendar, or put a playful sticker in your journal. In the same way that ‘yummmm’ is the verbal mantra for gratitude for food, ‘wowwww’ could be the verbal mantra for gratitude for acting more self-lovingly. Every time you acknowledge and celebrate your success, you supercharge the rate at which strands (neurons) move from the rope of your old habits to the new ones that support you dreams and wishes of a more self-loving reality. The more quickly your strand of cotton can become a rope, the less likely you are to revert to your old patterns of behaviour. Like gratitude, service helps to speed up the adoption of new habits.
In new weeks blog, I will be looking at the importance of service in changing how we function subconsciously.
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