Myelin 2.0…

You and I are hard wired and you and I have hard wiring; one we were born with and one we’ve built. We oftentimes confuse the two. We are hard wired for survival, fear response, and all kinda other things evolution has given us upon birth. We didn’t have to work for it; it came as a gift from our ancestors – thank you very kindly. Over time, through experience, environment, adversity, and all kinda other events we develop some hard wiring as well. This hard wiring is earned, you could say.

Lets say you decide early in life you want to beocme a professional golfer and start pounding balls like a banchee at your local driving range. As you make the golf swing over and over, your mind begins to change. The neural networks around your swing, the muscles, and movements necessary to execute a shot, become wrapped with something called myelin. Myelin grows and wraps these kinda pathways like an electrical cord is wrapped around an electrical wire. The more you swing the club, the more myelin you get. Swing enough times and you’re gonna build a swing, so deeply wrapped with myelin, you can perform it without thinking. Assuming it’s a good one, you are on your way to mastery. You see, masters build hard wiring so they can perform under pressure without thinking. The master golfer simply grips it and rips it. Good.

However, there is a down side to your hard wiring. Let’s just say the swing you’ve built from a young age wasn’t the best one. The mechanics are a bit faulty, you drop the club at the top and re-grip it on the way down. Now, after twenty years of hard wiring you want to change your swing. However, you have a neural network loaded with myelin around this very thought. You aren’t gonna break this habit. You’ve got to build a better one, slowly, just like you built the first one. It’s going to take a long time to build up the myelin around your new circuit and train your brain to dial it up, especially under pressure. You see, you simply won’t trust it…

The same is true in changing any kinda hard wiring – it takes time. Remember this, you don’t really break one of your old habits – you build a better one. And, whatever habit it is you want to change you gotta remember the longer you wait to begin building the better one isn’t just a stall tactic – it’s actually much worse. The longer you wait, the more myelin you keep wrapping around the wrong wiring. Do this long enough and your swing thought, so to speak, becomes almost as hard wired as your fear response. Yikes. Maybe this is why it’s so hard to teach an old dog a new trick.

What habit are you wanting to change? Why do you wanna change it? How long have you been practicing the new, improved habit? Who is on board to help you with your habituation? What obstacles are you anticipating along the way? Go back to your why questions and go a bit deeper. Remember, as Nietzsche once said, “He who has a why can deal with any how.”


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