Why is it so hard to make positive changes in our lives? I have asked this question for a long time, but recently had my eyes opened to understanding what is actually happening. It all starts with understanding what a habit is and how it actually works in your brain.
Habits are formed when we perform the same action over and over until our mind tells our body to perform the action without us having to make a decision to do it. Once a habit is formed, our brain becomes hard wired to this action and finds comfort in the familiarity of it. This is why it is so hard to break a bad habit and make a positive choice instead. Our brain is geared to make decisions that will keep our body safe. When the brain senses stress, it tries to make us choose an action that will get us to "safety" and calm the body. This is what happens when we face a change in our lives.
Take the example of having the habit of eating unhealthy. When we are hungry, our habit is to grab an unhealthy snack or fast food. The reason for that is since we have made that poor choice many times, our brain is wired to immediately respond with eating something unhealthy at the first sign of hunger. Now, when we try to change that habit and start eating healthy, it can become so frustrating that we may sometimes make the positive decision to eat healthy but more often than not we continue to choose the negative action consistently. Again, this is due to the fact that the brain wants us to avoid any thing that is unfamiliar or uncomfortable. It is more comfortable for us to choose a negative action because it is familiar, and this is the root reason for why it is so hard for us to change.
So how can we possibly beat the system? The answer is visualization. If we meditate on and visualize that positive action, actually see our self creating that action in our mind, we start to train our brain to get comfortable with this different, yet positive action. When we put that image in our brain every morning, our brain will be prepared when we need to make the decision to put that positive choice to action. Instead of automatically responding to hunger with a desire for junk food, our brain now understands that we have options and we can more easily make that positive choice. Then, if we can be consistent with these positive actions we can successfully rewire our brain with the positive habit.
Meditation and visualization always seemed like something that was out of reach for me. I think I just didn't really have any understanding of what I was trying to accomplish with it. This understanding of hard wiring the brain really connected the dots for me and I have made great strides with it in a short time. I find that when I have spent time with visualizing the actions that I want to take, it is much easier for me to remember and create those positive actions when the opportunity presents itself. So yes, visualization does work!