glowing brain

Can You Pavlov Yourself? How to Condition Your Brain

By Michael A Tree House Staff

During the 1890s, Russian physiologist, Ivan Pavlov was looking at salivation in dogs in response to being fed when he noticed that his dogs would begin to salivate whenever he entered the room, even when he was not bringing them food. This was the discovery, and pure evidence, of classical conditioning of the brain.

In recovery, it is necessary to begin to recondition the brain. A recovering addict has a brain that’s wired to think of drugs as a solution to almost any issue. In early recovery, people are suggested to keep a rubber band around their wrists, and any time a thought of using comes up, pop the band on your wrist. This does seem to help people. Many attribute it’s impact to the pain as a distraction. What this is actually doing, besides causing pain, is signaling to your brain to rewire its thinking. If every time we think about drugs we instantly shift the focus elsewhere, the brain will begin to adapt to avoid these thoughts… thus reconditioning has begun.

This is a simple example of how we can recondition the brain. Through CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), Mindfulness, and other thought practice, we can begin doing this in a much more advanced and conscious way. Another example of reconditioning the brain is fighting against our natural desire as humans to give less effort. If its a day that I’m supposed to go to the gym, and for some reason I talk myself out of it, that is a negative reconditioning. If I fight the feeling and go, it will reinforce connections in my brain that lead to more positive actions. By acknowledging these wins and staying aware of the benefits, the connections will become even stronger.

With action, we can make sense of how to recondition thoughts and patterns in our life, but this also carries over to thought maintenance. By diligently staying self aware of our thoughts, we can alter negative or unhealthy thinking patterns. This all starts with simple awareness and a conscious desire to improve ourselves. If you catch yourself stuck in a negative thought and it brings discomfort, practice shifting those thoughts for the better. This is a brain workout, and like anything, you will get stronger.

This isn’t just a theoretical idea. It has been proven by multiple scientific studies. Be Brain Fit writes “Due to a property known as brain plasticity (or neuroplasticity), your brain is constantly changing. Your brain continually alters its structure, function, circuitry and chemistry in response to everything you think and do.” Knowledge is power, and by knowing this to be true, we can continue to evolve our selves and master our worlds.

At Tree House Recovery helps men find freedom from addiction. Our treatment programs create sustainable change for sustainable recovery. Call us 24/7 at: (855) 202-2138

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