How to Change Your Behavior? The Science behind Neuroplasticity
Your life is what determines how your brain looks like; that is a fact. When you do something for a while or gain a new habit, it represents itself in the brain. This quality is called Neuroplasticity and from what we said we can conclude that it can work for you and also against you sometimes.
• But What Is Neuroplasticity?
Neuroplasticity means your brain’s capability to change its structure and functions according to the inputs you provide it with. Your experiences, emotions, thoughts, habits, and behaviors are literally shaping your brain right now. Your brain keeps shaping from the moment you are born to the day you die.
• How Habits Are Represented Into Your Brain?
Your brain creates neuronal connections for the activities you do regularly no matter these activities are good or bad; smoking, exercising, watching porn, meditating, etc. When you make or break a new habit, neuroplasticity does its magic.
When a habit is satisfied, your brain releases dopamine which is responsible for feeling good and happy. Dopamine is essential in creating these neuronal connections and in making them stronger time after time reinforcing the habit.
That is why you need to understand that changing a certain habit means changing your brain.
• Changing a Habit or a Behavior Changes Your Brain Structurally & Functionally:
It is not easy to break your bad habits because you have to change the structure of your brain. You will make things easier if you understood how your brain works and tried to make it work for you. Any habit can be broken by creating alternate pathways in your brain.
Adopting a new behavior requires you to put effort, intention, and thought into the creation process. At first, you establish the connections, and then you make them stronger.
The amount of time required to make a new habit varies according to the habit itself.
So the question now is:
• How to Create New Behavior Connections?
As I said, it is not easy to change a habit, a thought, or a behavior, but it can be done when you understand your brain and make it help you.
Here is how you can establish a new behavior.
• Determine Your Triggers:
The first step is to know your triggers. When you think of a habit, anticipatory dopamine is released. You need to determine the things that cause this release and avoid them. Try your best to remove all of them even if you have to change your environment completely. Make sure to make your surrounding environment as supportive as possible to be able to break your bad habits and/or create new healthy ones.
• Decrease Your Expectations:
You need to start small. Changing a habit needs willpower driven by serotonin. Willpower becomes exhausted; that is a fact. Make small changes that do not require too much willpower then increase your expectations. Establish each change well then perform another change after a while; take your time.
• Serotonin Is Important:
Increasing your serotonin levels while changing your behavior helps your brain to function properly and enhances your willpower. Find out ways to increase your dopamine levels naturally such as getting more sunlight, exercising, and remembering happy moments.
• Reduce Your Stress Level:
Breaking a bad or unwanted habit is stressful. You have to find new ways to reduce your stress levels in order to be able to fight the stress resulting from the habit you are trying to break. Things like exercise, yoga, meditation, gratitude, and social interaction decrease your stress hormone (cortisone) and help you in your fight.
• The Conclusion:
Changing a behavior is one of the things that need a plan and clear goals. You may already have tried to change a certain behavior and failed over and over. Understanding how your brain works will avoid you the disappointment of failure and makes you try again.
Just keep trying until you build better and meaningful life habits.