Neuroscientists explain how to rewire your brain


The brain is an infinitely complex entity. This organ controls thought, memory, touch, vision, emotion, motor skills, breathing, hunger, temperature and every single process that regulates the human body. In combination, the brain and spinal cord (which extends from the brain) make up the central nervous system or CNS. A lot of the brain’s functions are out of our control. However, many of the functions of the brain can be improved, rewired or ‘hacked’.

Although it may come as a surprise to some, much of our suffering is experienced on a neurological basis. Of course, we cannot remove suffering from our existence, however, we can minimize it while improving other areas of our lives by miles. A happy brain equals a happy life.

In this article, we will be looking at how to rewire your brain by using tips provided by neuroscientist Caroline Leaf, PhD.


5 steps to rewiring the brain


The human brain is constantly changing, reorganising and regrouping. Our brain is in a constant state of change, which is called neuroplasticity. Although the brain is a physical structure, it changes and morphs based on what you are feeling, thinking, eating, reading, choosing, etc. As you are thinking/feeling and making decisions, you generate quantum energy waves through your brain. When this happens, your brain responds both chemically and electromagnetically.

The fact of it is that your brain changes a lot throughout your life. But do we harness the power to take control of this process? While you cannot take total control, there is a lot more that you can do than you may have thought. According to neuroscientist Caroline Leaf, PhD, we do have it in us to direct the plasticity process and ‘rewire the brain’. Below, you will find her steps to rewiring the brain.


1. Gain Awareness
Gaining awareness is the first step to rewiring the brain. There are plenty of common methods for gaining awareness. Caroline Leaf suggests a few rather common methods. You can begin to learn how to do breathwork and meditate, two extremely effective mindfulness practices! A mindful diet alongside incorporating activity/exercise will make this process much easier as they can help increase your brain function, which assists in the rewiring of one’s brain.


2. Inner reflection.
Now that you have gained awareness, you are ready to begin your reflection stage. Awareness is an exceptional tool for reflection. More specifically, Leaf suggests consciously asking yourself ‘‘why’’ questions on a daily basis. We all have our own reasons for wanting to rewire the brain and take some control. If you are trying to redirect your depression, relationship complications or any other life obstacle, prioritize reflection when working on these issues. Reflect on any automated thoughts that pop up when you are managing a specific struggle of yours. Keep an eye out for emotional and/or physical signals and thoughts. See what naturally happens when you work on these hurdles and take note of the auto-response that surfaces. This step may take some time. Be patient with yourself.



Step 3. Write it all out!
If you have come this far, give yourself a pat on the back! During the first 2 steps, a lot of unpleasant realisations can come up which can be difficult to accept. Once you accept what has come up, it is time for you to process it on paper. Now that you have gained awareness and given yourself plenty of time to reflect, grab a pen and paper. Caroline explains the importance and effectiveness of this crucial step. ‘‘There is so much science behind writing. When you write, you activate certain parts of the brain in a beautiful way.’’ – Leaf. Writing down your thoughts allows your perspectives to be carved deeper into your brain vs if these realisations were to never make it out of your head and onto your paper. Additionally, writing makes things more ‘real’. When you write down your thoughts on a piece of paper, you are engraving them into reality on a deeper level and it will result in a greater impact that will likely stick around for longer. When you have thoughts running through your head, it can be extremely difficult to organise everything, fogging up your metaphysical lens. Get everything out of your head so you can see things with not only a clearer set of eyes but a new set of eyes.


Step 4. Reconceptualize
Now it is time to study your own notes! Have a long, hard look at what you’ve written and ‘read between the lines’. You may notice patterns and areas where slight adjustments can be made that will go a long way. Sometimes, making small changes result in huge changes. This step is where the magic truly happens! It is time to reframe your thoughts. How does it make you feel looking at the words you’ve written? How can you change your perspective in a realistic and positive way? What changes can you make in the future to avoid going down these paths and repeating these patterns? ‘‘Take the sting out of the emotions. See it differently so your story builds your resilience’’ – Leaf. She explains that doing this will make you feel agency over your thoughts, rather than feeling overwhelmed by a wave of emotions.


Step 5. Put the plan into action.
According to Leaf, this step will consist of taking what you’ve written and reconceptualized and use it to discover a simple action that you can do each time these thoughts surface. The brain works in repetition. This is fact and is displayed very clearly in neurology. When we repeat the same action over and over again, eventually, when the brain received certain signals, it will use that repeated action as the new auto-response. This makes your life much easier as time goes on. For example, let’s say you are striving to take control of your anxiety. Every time you experience anxious bodily sensations, you could pledge to close your eyes and take ten deep breaths, each consisting of 3 seconds. Over time, when anxiety creeps up, you will have an action to go to. Every time you do this, your brain is deepening its carve in your neural-pathway, making you more and more naturally inclined to react in this new way and take this new and more effective route.


Final thoughts


If you wish to successfully complete these steps, please keep in mind that this is a lengthy process. As with all brain-hacking and brain-building journeys, it takes time and requires lots of commitment. Leaf says that it takes 21 days to break down your thoughts, however, it takes 63 days before neuroplasticity begins to really take on a pace.


The best words of advice I can give you are:

Be patient.
Be consistent.
Be positive.


True change never happens overnight. Don’t lose hope, know that you have it in you and remember why you started this journey in the first place. We all have what it takes to rewire our brains. Each and every one of us deserves to get to know ourselves, understand our triggers and enjoy our lives to the fullest. Your full potential is waiting for you, it always has been there. Put in the work today so your future self can thank you later.


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