Rewire your brain: what is neuroplasticity and how does it work

Neuroplasticity means that you can rewire your brain. You probably already know that you can learn new skills and behaviours. But did you know that you can rewire your brain by using personal growth techniques? 

Your brain is a pattern-recognition network

There is an active, physical network of billions of tiny neurones in your brain, each one of which connects to anything from 1000 – 10,00 other neurones. Hard to imagine, right. 

All of these neurones actively relate, connect, and reconnect to one another. This happens in response to the constant stream of information (data) coming in from your internal and external environment.

Every tiny bit of data that arrives in your brain is tested against this huge “pattern-matrix” network to see if it matches any one of its billions of stored patterns. If so, a matching response is immediately generated. 

Most of your responses are automated

All of this happens before you become aware of it. That seems odd until you consider your own automatic reflexes, which happen without thought. For example, I’m typing this article without considering the position of my fingers for a second. I just think of the words I want to type and my brain instructs my fingers accordingly. It knows exactly what to do.

If your brain can’t make sense of data coming into it, or can’t find a matching pattern, you’ll become aware of it and feel stressed until you work out what you need to do. Then a new pattern is created and automated. The stress dissipates, and the next time your brain receives that data input, it will instantly produce the newly stored response. 

Consistent patterns become stronger

The more a pattern is repeated, the stronger it becomes. But that is not to say that this is a fixed situation. New patterns are generated in response to new experiences, and if those patterns are then repeated, they become stronger in turn.

Every time you do something different, learn a new skill or step out of your comfort zone,  your brain creates new patterns in the form of new neural pathways. This is the essence of neuroplasticity.

Your brain changes most in childhood

In childhood, your brain is the most “plastic” as you rapidly learn, change, and develop. Yet this ability to rewire your brain continues throughout your life.

Habits and actions form your identity. 

A person who exercises consistently, eats well, and goes to bed early (these are all behaviours), will form an identity of being “healthy”. That same person would have a completely different identity if they choose a sedentary life, live on take-out, and prioritize work over sleep. This idea is fairly comfortable to most people. 

Psychological characteristics aren’t fixed

In contrast, when it comes to psychological aspects (such as your personality,  your perspectives, your ways of thinking, and the way you interact with others), most people tend to think of these as fixed, immutable, and unchangeable.  Ie you have little control over them. 

This notion reflects a prevailing cultural belief: “Tigers never change their spots”, “Old dogs can’t learn new tricks”, and, “That’s just the way I am”. 

The research would definitely disagree. Yes, aspects of your personality are genetic, similar to physical traits. However, what you do with your genetic “deck of cards” is very much within your control. You can rewire your brain to change your entire psyche. 

Meditation is perhaps the best-known practice proven to result in physical changes to your brain. But there are many others, including techniques like playing video games, learning a language, entering therapy, doing something completely different (travelling), exercising, and/or doing something creative. 

Certain factors are beyond your control 

Of course, there are things that you can’t change. If you’re stuck in a negative external environment or living with a chronic illness, disability or pain, these may be largely out of your control. However, there are always things you can do to rewire your brain to handle things differently.

You can rewire your brain

Your brain is a physical organ, housed inside your body. You probably accept that what you do and how you treat your body will physically change your body. If you play a sport consistently, your body will adapt to the sport. Your muscles, your reflexes, your agility, your shape, will change according to the demands you place on your body.

This applies equally to your brain. There are multiple activities proven to exercise your brain in ways that will rewire your neural networks. Positive changes in your brain will directly change your sense of self, mental health, mental flexibility, and resilience.

Everyone is slightly different

What works for one person may not work for another in the same way. Not everyone is cut out for playing tennis, or for swimming, for example. But even if you’re disabled in some way, there are exercises, activities, and sports you can do and enjoy, that will greatly improve your physical health. 

It is exactly the same when it comes to personal growth and mental health. There are so many strategies and therapies out there that you can do and enjoy. 

BFB Success Formula: How to Rewire Your Brain

Acknowledge that personal growth is your choice, and is within your control. 

Play to your strengths and interests. It is much easier and usually better to build on your strengths than to focus on your weaknesses. 

Start with something that resonates with you. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try meditation. Or you feel pulled to start therapy or journalling a happiness practice.  There are lots of suggestions out there. You’ll be attracted to one or some of them, and these are the things you should start with. (Because if you enjoy something, you’re much more likely to continue with it.)

Keep going. Small actions performed consistently, build into significant life/identity changes over time. 


You can rewire your brain faster and more easily than you may have realised. Many therapy and personal growth practices, such as practicing kindness, start to show results immediately. Others may take a little more time, but usually, you will start to see changes fairly quickly. NASA research suggests that 4 weeks is enough time to make significant changes. 

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