If you have low self-esteem, you may sometimes wish there was a way to rewire your brain. Well, it may surprise you to read that you can actually do that. With a little knowledge you can alter your brain’s nerve connections and neurochemical behaviour to develop more positive thought patterns.
So how do you rewire your brain? Does it involve complicated medical equipment and carefully monitored exercises? Nope! Just some good, old-fashioned self-care. One of the primary drivers of changing brain behaviour is metacognition. This is simply thinking about who you are and how you behave. Taking time to observe the things you do and the way you feel is the cornerstone of many self-care practices.
When people hear the term self-care, they often think of bubble baths or face masks. They of course are not the only way to take care of yourself. Self-care encompasses a vast range of methodologies. From indulgent treats to more difficult tasks such as setting boundaries and working through past trauma.
You’re probably familiar with meditation as a method of calming the mind, but did you know it can help modify your thought patterns? By encouraging you to focus on the present, meditation allows you to shift your attention away from the past and the future; too much focus on the past and the future can cause depression and anxiety. By thinking only about what is happening right now, you can keep your emotions in check and avoid spiralling. Regularly focusing your efforts on the present teaches your brain that this is what you want to think about. It forces you to break those old negative thought patterns that would lead to excessive worry, fear, etc.
Affirmations and positive self-talk sometimes get written off as silly or “woo-woo,” but they have a tremendously positive effect on the mind when used consistently and correctly. The key to effective affirmations is to take the time to craft specific phrases that you genuinely believe—or that you can believe soon. Eventually, if you’ve been consistent over time, your brain will take on these new beliefs and let go of your old negative self-talk. It will disconnect those old neural pathways in favor of the new ones you’ve built.
The mind-body connection is a powerful one, and practicing yoga is an excellent way to strengthen it. If you’ve struggled with meditation in the past, yoga is an brilliant way to engage in a sort of active meditation. It’s a way to silence the mind and be present while having something to focus on without overwhelming yourself. Your slow breathing and the gentle movements release endorphins that promote an improved mood too.
Writing down your thoughts and feelings is an amazing way to uncover deep rooted beliefs and subconscious patterns you may not otherwise know about. Allowing yourself to write whatever comes to you and follow whatever flows through you is a great way to discover things about yourself and hone your writing skills at the same time.
If you’re looking to give your self-improvement efforts a turbo boost, therapy is the way to go. A skilled therapist can help you learn from past traumas and give you the tools you need to heal from them. Therapy lets you uncover deep-rooted issues faster (and sometimes easier). You also have the added benefit of having a professional ready to help if things get especially challenging. As a registered therapist and social worker, I help my clients overcome their biggest obstacles and become their best selves.