Five Steps That Help You Completely Rewire Your Brain

The notion that people only use ten percent of their brains is a grave misconception. Though popularized by films like Limitless, the reality is that the brain is far more efficient and malleable 1than most realize. 

Information travels across its 100 trillion neural connectors2 at a speed of 268mph. If that sounds like a lot of heavy lifting, keep in mind that the brain is composed of sixty percent fat. And never mind the rumor that humans only use ten percent of their brains’ capacity—scientists still haven’t found the limit for knowledge storage.

Still, films like Limitless do hit on one very real notion: that humans underutilize their brain power. While we have the equipment to accomplish anything, we might not know how to optimize our brains for a specific challenge. And even if we have a goal in mind, we may not know how to rewire our brain for that one activity. 

Thankfully, neuroplasticity 3means that we can teach the brain to handle just about anything. Neuroplasticity is the ability to reform neural pathways in order to create new patterns. It’s about linking up new neurons to teach the brain to do new things—and anyone can do it with these five simple steps.

 

Step One: Set Yourself Up for Success

To rewire the brain, you have to understand how it’s currently wired. Over the course of our lives, our neurons make connections based on our lived patterns—both good and bad. First, you need to understand what these patterns are in relation to your specific goals.

For example, a poker player who wants to rewire their brain for the game will first need to understand their weaknesses at the table. Most players struggle with ‘tilt’, a word that describes an emotional reaction that makes it tough to think clearly and critically.

Step Two: Connect the Dots

Once you’ve sat with your thoughts and identified which areas you need to work on, the next step is to simply observe your thought patterns once again. Here, the emphasis is on connecting the dots to see what sort of stimuli cause you to react, and what, exactly, that reaction looks like.

Keeping with the poker theme, a player might realize that they want revenge against another player after losing a hand (they are a ‘revenge tilt’ player). To further connect the mental dots here, a player can think about why they want revenge, how it derails their game, and what sort of reaction would be more beneficial. 

Step Three: Examine Your Findings (in Writing)

So far, rewiring the brain has required observation and honesty. It’s about understanding how and why the mind works as it does as preparation for changing an existing pattern. In step three, writing out all of your findings will help you understand what’s happening from a broader perspective.

This is a great way to refine your goals. For example, one recent trend that focuses on brain power is taking cold showers. Scientific studies have linked cold water exposure to the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases4… but convincing your mind and body to withstand cold temperatures takes a lot of examination. In other words, don’t be afraid to take your time on step three.

Step Four: Connect the Dots… Again

Step three is all about summarizing early findings. Step four focuses on connecting the dots—this time, without the intensity of our original reactions. In other words, the more thoroughly you can examine your inclinations, the less bound you are to them. They become objective facts that you can observe—and change.

This stage also involves a deeper personal response. For example, someone looking to switch to cold water showers might realize that they have a strong reaction to cold water because it’s physically uncomfortablewhich is made worse by hyperventilation5—which they might not have noticed before. This leads to step five.

Step Five: Make A Plan of Action

Now that you’re aware of your brain’s existing habits and a few of the underlying causes for these patterns, you can build a plan of action. These might start out small as you uncover new habits and patterns that need changing. Just stick with it, as habits (mental and otherwise) are built on consistency.

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  1. Liu, Tuan, Baoming Zhao, and Jinwen Zhang. “Recent development of repairable, malleable and recyclable thermosetting polymers through dynamic transesterification.” Polymer 194 (2020): 122392. ↩︎
  2. Hajcak, Greg, and Dan Foti. “Significance?… Significance! Empirical, methodological, and theoretical connections between the late positive potential and P300 as neural responses to stimulus significance: An integrative review.” Psychophysiology 57.7 (2020): e13570. ↩︎
  3. Price, Rebecca B., and Ronald Duman. “Neuroplasticity in cognitive and psychological mechanisms of depression: an integrative model.” Molecular psychiatry 25.3 (2020): 530-543. ↩︎
  4. Hansson, Oskar. “Biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases.” Nature medicine 27.6 (2021): 954-963. ↩︎
  5. Gouvea Bogossian, Elisa, et al. “Hyperventilation in adult TBI patients: how to approach it?.” Frontiers in neurology 11 (2021): 580859. ↩︎

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