Chapter 23: Brainy Talk

I have an attention span shorter than that tiny tyrant, my son Ezekiel Napoleon.

I get bored easily, and just as easily excited by shiny new ideas and hair clips.

Which basically makes me a toddler.

If a toddler was an enthusiastic go-getter, and also a little bit of a flake.

Loves the start of a new venture; hates the daily grind of making it happen.

This personality quirk is particularly unhelpful for long-term success, because as any cheese or wine advertiser will tell you, good things take time.

Long-term success requires long-term commitment and hustle, which if you ask me, is a giant pain in the ass.

But – and I mean butt – this blog has helped me turnaround that tendency.

I’ve had to stick at things: regular writing, weekly podcasts, Instagram content, I’ve completed two terms of improv, and I ran a bloody half-marathon.

Through thick and thin, long after the excitement and novelty wore off, I stuck with it. And heck, you can too.

“Dreams won’t work unless you do,” – John C. Maxwell

Psych 121

Have I mentioned that I have a Psychology degree?

I actually totally do, so let’s put it to good use for a hot second.

The human brain is very clever, but it can also be a real jack ass.

I’m talking about neural pathways.

These are the well worn tracks in our mind that have been created through repeated behaviours. They’re the bunches of axons, called tracts,  that have joined up through repeated use – like a well-trodden path through the bush.

These pathways create efficient shortcuts in our mind so we can do things easily and without thinking – like driving a car, or applying contour.

Which is helpful, but also incredibly unhelpful, when that habit or behaviour isn’t a fun or healthy addition to our lives.

What has this got to do with anything?

Homie, it has everything to do with everything, because it means you not screwed.

It means there’s a reason why some behaviour or ways of thinking feels like it comes naturally to you, but it also means you can create a new reality and a new you.

You just need to create a new pathway.

But, howww?

Repetition.

It takes around 66 days to create a new habit.

That’s 66 days of consistently, mindfully choosing a different path.

Which tbh, seems like a long time. But the time will pass anyway, so you may as well be moving in the right direction.

I’m still confused Kate, give me an example

I always wanted to do a half-marathon.

But I’d never trained outside before, and I’d never run more than 10km in my life.

From past experience, my subconscious knew I would give up, because that’s what I’ve done before.

My battle was to not give up, and to convince my brain I wasn’t going to by consistently hacking at that scrubby bush to create a new path.

How did I do that?

Tiny victories.

  • Doing a 15min jog outside
  • Doing a 5km ParkRun
  • Cracking 10km (that was such a good day!)

These were all milestones that continued to prove to my brain that I could do this thing it thought I couldn’t.

And the rest, as they say, is history … See: “Chapter 20: Half-Marathon

Learn more about brainy stuff

Want to know more about neural pathways and changing habits?

I recommend checking out this article. I used it as a reference, and it definitely explains neuroscience better than me!

What habits would be at the top of your to-change list? Or what positive, new habits are you going to try and form? Go on, give it a go – I dare you!

Kate x

Disclaimer: I do have a Psychology degree, but I’m not actually an expert in this field. This is just the Basic White Chick explanation of neutral pathways and habit changing/forming. I recommend you do your own research if you really want to knuckle down and make some changes, or to talk to a professional if you have significant mental health concerns you want to tackle. Much love. 

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