If a neuron fires and isn’t followed by the activation of subsequent neurons, the connection between them weakens. Eventually, your brain breaks the associations, carving new neural pathways, which has been shown to successfully treat phobias, anxiety disorders, and PTSD.
Every minute of every day there’s a battle going on in your brain ? a battle for cortical real estate. Your experiences, behaviours, emotions, and even your thoughts are constantly, literally changing and shaping your brain.
You have a use or lose it brain. Any unused connections go dormant to free up resources needed to strengthen those connections that are most often used. Neuroplasticity is competitive, and functioning areas of the brain not receiving any stimuli will be taken over. In experiments where participants were blindfolded, their visual cortices started reorganising themselves to process sound in just two days!
You can retrain your brain to not be worried, anxious, or reactive by repeatedly associating positive, calm, safe feelings and thoughts with material that is upsetting or anxiety producing for you. In his book, Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom, Rick Hanson likens this process to pulling weeds and planting flowers in the garden of your mind. With time, dedicated repetition, and neuroplasticity, you can actually change the neuronal pathways in your brain.
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