Guest Blogger Joy Anderson of Stodzy Marketing

Without further ado, I bring you the effervescent Joy Anderson.  Joy is the outreach director at Stodzy Internet Marketing: New Age Marketing for the Addiction Treatment Industry. Pretty darn cool.  Take it away, Joy!   xo, Laura


Rebuilding our Infrastructure:
Creating New Neuro-Pathways to Recovery with our Inner Speech

In the process of recovery we do a complete 180 in all that we do and there are countless ways to accomplish this. First, Take Charge.  WE are responsible for our thoughts, our feelings, our habits. The best part:  We have more control than you think.

Create a New Route

To construct new pathways in our brains, will-power can come in handy for its intended use.  Self defeating habits are best dealt with by replacement.  We cease the unhealthy behavior and replace it with a healthy one.  When we change our behavior, changes also happen in the neural pathways and synapses - we create new pathways that bypass damage - we can also alter existing pathways.  This is referred to as neuroplasticity[1]. This concept has long been applied in therapy for rehabilitating stroke patients where parts of the brain are severely damaged.  The really hopeful news is that brain activity associated with a given function can move to a different location - thank goodness for that as those of us in recovery from substance abuse have surely damaged our brains beyond repair, not so differently from stroke patients.   Repair no, rerouting yes.

The most amazing part of the construction of the neuronal network is that, like trees in a forest, the dendrites—the connections in your brain—are not hardwired. A tiny gap called a synapse exists between each two neurons. An electric impulse begins a chain of chemical reactions that cause neurotransmitters to flow from one neuron to another. This exchange causes another electric impulse, which causes additional chemical reactions, and so on. The interchange of electrical and chemical activity is the basis of human thought.
— Allyson Lewis, The Science of Time Management

This takes a lot of effort and conscious, intentional, action.  We basically decide we want to do life differently, so we have to reprogram our brains with the corrective message.  You see neuropathways are the roads of the brain that carry messages. If the same message is sent over and over again the pathways get “exercised.”  They get stronger. You can actually get rid of the old destructive habit entirely by doing new, healthier activities with repetition.  After a time you find yourself automatically doing the new behavior and struggling less to stay away from the old, harmful path.

We re-teach ourselves...
We recondition our brains to feel good naturally

As we learn these new behaviors let’s examine what happens in the brain. There are many ways to approach this and recent studies have shown that a combination of MIndfulness Therapy  (being in the moment)  in conjunction with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (thoughtful behavior modification) has the best success.  With this type of dual processing approach, both sides of the brain are activated. One part of the brain, the limbic system works quickly, automatically, unconsciously and is associated with more basic, primal emotions.  The other part of the brain works more slowly and requires working memory.  It handles memory and learning. [3]  Learning leads to the production of new proteins and, in turn, to the remodeling of neurons. Learning literally changes the structure and function of the brain.

Get Creative

Along with the behavior modification, we must use our imaginations - oooh fun!!  We get to imagine our new behaviors - we visualize ourselves doing them. Have fun with it.  We imagine getting off work and heading for the beach with a healthy minded friend.  We’re having fun, and we can imagine anything we want.  Just keep it positive.  Those old pathways are still there and it may be easy to fall onto an old path.   When we find ourselves headed down a negative path we have to stop the thought process and redirect. We might literally say “Stop. I don’t hang out with them anymore.“ Taking a deep breath never hurts either - anything to interrupt that negative thought process. Visualize getting back on the new track we just created.  As we focus on these new behaviors they become patterns, patterns become habits. We are actually retraining our brains - review above if you didn’t get that. 

ur inner monologue is so much more powerful than we give it credit for.  We believe what we tell ourselves - even more so if we do it using our own names.  In a series of groundbreaking experiments by Michigan psychologist Ethan Kross discoveries have shown that how people conduct their inner monologues has an enormous impact on their success in life. Talk to yourself with the pronoun I, for instance, and you’re likely to fluster and perform poorly in stressful circumstances. Address yourself by your name and your chances of acing a host of tasks, speech making to self-advocacy, suddenly soar. “[4] 

Think about it, we are always dishing out advice but rarely do we take our own.  Somehow, we are more likely to follow the advice or gain inspiration from a friend.   When we talk to ourselves with encouragement like a good friend would the same thing happens.  We have to feed ourselves the information that we need to feel good and keep progressing on the new “Road to Recovery.”  We are responsible for our recovery.  We never have to do the recovery process alone, but we must learn to take responsibility for our thoughts. WE nurture our own neural pathways thereby boosting our recovery - word by word.    We have the power to talk ourselves into or out of anything.  This also becomes learned behavior and again, we transform our own brains.

In the author's words:

Oh, Hi! I’m Joy!  I’m a Florida Native – yes there are actually people who live in Florida that grew up here.  Now, that said, I’m also a seasoned traveler which has loaded me with an arsenal of ideas to write about here.  My job is to reach out to other business, build relationships, hunt for back links and create relationships with valuable marketing opportunities.  I love what I do – I fear no networking opportunity!  My goal is to reach out to bloggers and other writers to help connect the world one link at a time. I’m a perfectionist and put a lot of effort into everything I do. 
Happy to be part of the team, bringing it together every day.