A dirt path in the wilderness develops after it has been walked over and over again. Overtime, as the result of deliberate effort, what was once covered with grass and twigs becomes a clear, unobstructed path that is easy to travel.
Like the wilderness, our brains also have their own pathways that we have created overtime. They’re thought and behavior patterns we have taught ourselves or learned from other people. For example, if I have learned to believe that someone’s disapproval is a reflection of my worth, every time someone disagrees with me I’m likely to walk the same pathway I have for years that believes I’m not good enough without someone’s approval.
By the time we’re in our mid-twenties we've developed several, well-worn pathways in our brains and begin to rely on those through the remainder of our lives. Overtime, the pathways grow deeper and deeper. We become so set in our ways of thinking that it becomes more and more difficult to rewire our thoughts or habits.
But the beauty of the brain is its ability to renew itself, no matter our age. We have power over our thoughts, and with effort and intention we can literally build new areas in our brains that allow us to travel to new perspectives or different ways of behaving.
When you’re stuck in a thought or habit, imagine walking a well-worn path in the woods and then stepping off of it. Envision yourself creating a new path by walking over it again and again until it develops.
You have choice over your thoughts and actions. With a little effort and intention, you can leave an old, worn path in your brain at any moment and create a new one that contributes to a healthier version of you.