Time for Personal Growth: How to Stretch Your Neuroplasticity

Back in December, we went over key activities you can do to improve neuroplasticity, and consequently, a better life. In this video, we revisit the subject for three additional keys to activating your neuroplasticity.

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Why neuroplasticity is important

I want to talk to you about a topic that is dear to my heart: neuroplasticity. The reason why I thought this could be a good talk today, is that I am noticing in myself and in many of my clients a real urge, probably driven by this crazy time of pandemic that we are in right now, to be learning more, an urge to grow and an urge to expand one’s knowledge.

The more neural pathways we create, the more neuroplasticity that we have, the happier and the more balanced we feel. That’s why people are studying and learning, because it provides them with great pleasure and pride. So, let’s dive a little bit into three ways to increase our neuroplasticity.

(You might remember back in December, I dedicated a video to this topic, in which I covered four keys towards neuroplasticity already. Do feel free to go check it out, and/or keep reading to discover a new set of three keys.)

Key 1 – Personal relevance to unlock greater neuroplasticity

There is nothing that we do with pleasure and sustainability that doesn’t have a heavy dose of personal relevance. If it is not of meaning and importance to us, we simply won’t be effective. That is why, for example, in any change situation that we’re going through, we must find a way that the change we are operating is meaningful to us. It must have some relevance, because at the beginning of any sustainable change, there is always the desire for something that seems more appealing, better or simply more interesting. This means we are going to study better for topics that we have an affinity for, for example.

Key 2 – Focus and attention to increase neuroplasticity

Very often coaching clients will come to me with questions around multitasking and presence. Possibly more women than men actually, because female brains tend to handle a greater amount of multitasking on multiple fronts. My female clients come asking me: “How can I be more present?”

I try to always understand what they mean by that. What they really mean is to be having the feeling of living in the here and now. They’re very focused and very attentive. This is another reason as to why we love learning. When we’re reading a book, studying, listening to podcasts, we feel we’re very effective because we’re in it. We’re very focused, we’re listening and nothing else exists. You put your ear plugs in and there you are. You are paying close attention. Meditation falls in that category too by the way. It increases neurotransmitters, including brain-derived neurotrophic factor which is necessary for neuronal growth and connections. Many studies have linked, for example, meditation practice to differences in cortical thickness or density of gray matter.

So, that’s what we call being present, present to yourself here and now, and focus and attention is a way to be present. The more present you can be in what you’re doing, the more focus and attention you’re giving, the better your neuroplasticity is. That’s why you feel satisfied after studying something, a topic, listening to a podcast, or after a meditation practice. You are living in the here and now.

Key 3 – Practice and making mistakes is critical in developing neuroplasticity

There’s nothing like making mistakes to improve and to learn. It is a key to neuroplasticity that is essential for all of us and yet, as we grow older, is less and less tolerated unfortunately. But it’s an essential process for the development of kids. What child is learning without making mistakes? How do they learn that they shouldn’t put their hands in the fire if they haven’t tried it in the first place? The same holds true when the kid is learning how to walk. They stumble before they stand. They try to position their feet slightly differently. They learn by practicing and making mistakes. As do adults. It’s somehow less acceptable as an adult to make mistakes. But a critical part of the learning practice and the learning process is the ability to fail, to recalibrate and try again.

This is literally how we increase the thickness of the neural pathways and all the connections in our brain. This is also typically how we eliminate neural pathways that no longer serve us, because it’s not just about increasing the amount of neural connections. It’s about crossing and eliminating those that are not suitable to us anymore. It’s about pruning.

Becoming masters of neuroplasticity

I want to encourage you to practice, make mistakes, be present and find topics of personal relevance as you learn and try to make sense of the crazy times we’re in right now.

Let me know if I can help you in making sense of things in your life, your career and aspects that you want to transform. I’m here to help you jump into your neuroplasticity!

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