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Change Your Brain to Break Bad Habits, Overcome Addictions, Conquer Self-Destructive Behavior

By Richard O'Connor
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
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Rewire by Richard O'Connor

Rewire is about why we sometimes fall into self-destructive behavior, and how to move past it.

It delves into the brain activity behind addictions, and outlines strategies for rewiring yourself for improved self-control over your bad habits.

Key idea 1 of 7

We have two “selves” that dictate our actions – and we can learn to control them.

We've all been through this: you're faced with two choices, you know which one is right, yet you choose the wrong one. Why do we do that?

It's because we all really have two selves – a conscious self and an automatic self. They both influence our decisions.

The automatic self acts without our direct control. It's what's influencing you when you mindlessly eat a bag of chips while watching TV.

The conscious self uses rational thought and reason. When you decide to try octopus for the first time, your conscious self is in charge.

Usually, when you do something you regret, it's because your automatic self is in control, and your conscious self isn't considering the consequences. You eat those chips without thinking about it.

So if you want to overcome any bad behavior, you have to train your automatic self to stop slipping. Strengthening your conscious self to be more dominant is also useful, but training your automatic self is more effective.

Brains can physically change. You can direct the ways your brain develops, and how it affects your behavior.

Our brains are constantly building new cells, and new networks between them. In fact, it's recently been discovered that learning actually causes the growth of new cells; our behavior affects brain cell growth, thereby brain function.

When you do any action repeatedly, your nerve cells grow more and more connections with each other. For example, “go to the gym” (nerve A) will connect with “stay at the gym until my workout is done” (nerve B).

As you work out more and more, it'll become a habit. Nerves A and B will increasingly bond together.

So when we develop good habits, we replace bad habits. You need to change your automatic habits from negative to positive ones.

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