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Episode 104 - How To...Detox Your Brain


If we need to detox our body, usually it’s because we’ve got something toxic internally - in our blood stream or our organs - that is wreaking havoc. It could be something like heavy metals in our body or even an addiction to sugar. And many times we’ve been given a protocol by a doctor, a plan to follow, for a certain about of time to rid our bodies of these toxins. If you’re seeing a naturopathic doctor, they might prescribe a drip therapy like chelation. Or you might have to follow a strict or restricted diet to eliminate the toxin. The idea is to pull out the toxin and then starve the body of it so that there is no longer a desire for it. You can see how affective this is when it comes to the addiction of sugar.

But why would we need to detox our brains? And how do you do that? I’m so glad you’re joining me on this episode today to talk about it.

Let me, right off the bat, tell you I’ve been reading Dr. Caroline Leaf’s book, Switch On Your Brain. She is a Christian who is also a scientist, and the way she describes her work is parallel to my focus of integrating brain science and Biblical Faith. Except that she’s a doctor and talks about quantum physics and has done research on the brain for more than 40 years. Otherwise, we’re the same person. Okay, not really. But reading her is so confirming for me. And if you’re familiar with her work, you’ll see her influence here in parts of this episode today.

Okay, again, why would we need to detox our brains? And how do you do that?

If we need to detox our brain it’s because there’s something toxic wreaking havoc, and that would be our negative thoughts. These brain toxins could be anything from self-loathing and lack of self-love, to bitterness and unforgiveness towards others, to irritation and annoyance, fear and worry. If you’ve listened to my podcast for any length of time, you’ve heard me talk about the effect our thoughts have on the way we are experiencing life. Regardless of circumstance, our thoughts control if we’re living in peace and joy, or not. Our thoughts also have a direct impact on our bodies and the way they function.

If you’d like to hear more about WHY you might need to detox your brain, take a listen to episodes number 2, 54 & 84. I’d also encourage you to read Dr. Bessel Vander Kolk’s book The Body Keeps The Score. And if you’d like to hear more about why you can actually detox your brain yourself - you don’t even need a doctor to do this - you can actually say you’re a neuroplastician doing surgery on your own brain - then listen to episodes number 2 & 83 & 97 and discover the way the brain is designed for Neuroplasticity.

But today I want to concentrate on the “How To” part. This detox is a purposeful, “I’m serious about this” kind of application. You must get the toxins out. So, your protocol consists of 4 steps that you will do for about 10 minutes a day for 21 days. We know that is takes at least 21 days to form a new habit. Well, it takes 21 days for your brain to sufficiently prune off old, toxic thoughts as unessential because you’ve been creating and reinforcing new ones.

So, we need to become aware. There are signals that will tell you that there’s a problem. We’ve talked about this before, but sometimes it’s your body that’s warning you that something in your mind needs attention. There are other signals, too, like anxiety as a way of living, fear or anything that’s disrupting your normal living, relationships that seem to always fall apart, insecurities and a whole list of other things. These are things that are signals that you need to become aware of how you’re thinking.

So, the first step is Awareness. It is to use purposeful thinking to become aware. This is being purposeful to stop and think about what you’re thinking and why. You can do this at any time. Just stop and recognize what you’re thinking at that very moment. What are you experiencing with the thought? What are the external stimuli? Did something just jolt you into action? Like a wasp flying over your head? Like just happened to me. Or is there background noise that’s distracting? Or maybe it’s comforting like your favorite music. Do you smell food cooking? Or a candle burning? Are you feeling a sensation in your body like pain or hunger? Each of these will produce a memory with an emotion linked to it. Can you purposefully recall that memory and the emotion?

You are now bringing existing memories to the consciousness - the words “memories” and “thoughts” here are interchangeable. Going through this process helps us to understand that we take facts, experiences, and the events of our life and assign meaning to them with our thinking. The more we do this on purpose, the more aware we become minute by minute of the thoughts we’re thinking.

When you are purposeful in your thinking about your thoughts - that sounds strange doesn’t it? When you pay attention to your thoughts and bring up that old thought, then that thought becomes vulnerable to change, even if and when it’s an old thought, something that’s been running around toxic in your mind for decades. When you bring attention to that thought, bring it into your conscious awareness, then this is the time that it’s malleable to change. In fact, it must change. Just by recalling it you are going to either reinforce it and make the thought stronger, or if you choose, you change it - in part or all of it. Here is where I want to send you directly to Dr. Leaf’s book. She says, “This change is real and happens via electromagnetic and quantum forces as well as neurotransmitters activating genetic expression and protein synthesis.” If you want to geek out on that, too, read chapters two and three of her book, Switch On Your Brain.

The second step to detox your brain is to Write it out. We call it a Thought Download. This is something that I teach my coaching clients right away. Let me tell you why it’s effective in the detox process as you’re applying it in order to attend to one single thought. Writing something down requires the involvement of both hemispheres of your brain - integrating the two - and making new thoughts, skills, and learning permanent. So, when you’ve homed in on one thought that you’re wanting to attend to, you would write about all the things you discovered in the Awareness step. Let your thoughts spill out onto the page unhindered by judgment or edited to keep from the negative. Let it all roll out. Invite the Holy Spirit into this exercise, asking Him to guide your thoughts. As you go through the 21 days of this detox, your Thought Download will change. You should be getting closer and closer each day to healthier more productive thoughts. You’ll also want to consider writing out your plans going forward to deal with your circumstances; to think through your reactions and responses to situations and people; to formulate a plan to establish boundaries, or how to create intentional self-care. Whatever it might be that comes from giving attention to the awareness of thought. Don’t forget that the Holy Spirit is speaking to you about these things, and He uses your brain to do it most times. This exercise is similar to Super Thinking that I talked about last week. Getting dialed in and giving undivided attention to one thing brings creative solutions and answers to what you’re focused on. It’s amazing how intricate God has made our brains so that we can do what He tells us to in His word: to be transformed by changing the way you think.

The third step is to Rewire the thought - to reframe, redesign, and change it, or reinforce and make the thought stronger. You do this by repetition and rehearsal. Rewiring with repetition and rehearsal in frequent intervals is necessary to solidify the new thought. The way you’re going to do this is by going through each of these steps each day for 21 days. Again, this detox is a purposeful. It’s an “I’m serious about this” kind of intention. As in, you must get the toxins out. If this is you, then putting in this focused effort for 21 days is going to be worth it! And easy!

So, the rewiring step might come in small incremental advances as you are getting more and more clarity and truth each day through the Thought Downloads. Again, you’re inviting the Lord into the process, your brain is getting more and more settled on truth instead of lies, and your belief system is changing and getting stronger. Be sure to support your rewiring with scripture that the Lord brings to mind. You are now creating new positive neural pathways.

Again, as the brain gets new information it must do something with it. You can choose to discard or keep it. Your thinking through thoughts, memories, experiences has just created a powerful signal in your neurons. And as you think deeper on it, as you’re more intentional about it day by day, it’s going to change the physical nature of your brain. That’s a proven fact. What you choose to keep will form who you are. Even the mere decision to change, to rewire your brain - by just deciding alone - begins the process of change in your brain. You and I have so much more power over our brains than we’ve ever known before. Now is the time to start appropriating what God has given us the power to do all along.

The fourth and final step is Application. Wisdom is applying knowledge we have gained. This is where you are applying what you’re believing in your day to day life. Remember, your brain will prune off old, toxic thoughts as unessential because you’ve been creating and reinforcing positive new ones. This is a process. Your detox is a process. So, as you go, you are building a new belief system and in the Application step you might experience some cognitive dissonance. The definition of cognitive dissonance is “the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.” You cannot just ‘thought swap’ your way to detox. You can’t just say you believe something and be able to live in that belief if you really don’t believe it deep down. That is cognitive dissonance and the brain knows the truth. When we’re saying one thing and completely believing another - when we are out of integrity with ourselves - the nervous system plunges into a tailspin and leaves you in an overwhelming feeling of being out of control.

But, as you move through steps one through four each of the 21 days, you’ll be gradually building the foundation of your new belief system. In the meantime, applying these new beliefs will need a bridge thought. For example, if your focus is stop worrying, you might say, “I used to be a person who worries, but now I am learning to trust that God is taking care of me.” Or, “I used to be a person who had a hard time forgiving others, but now I’m learning how to have compassion and grace.” “I used to be a person who was full of anxiety, but now I’m learning to cast my cares and burdens on the One who created me and knows me best.” These bridge thoughts create integrity in the brain and it will begin acting out of what you are confessing. Soon you will find that you aren’t just a person “learning” to do this, but a person who consistently does do this. And anytime you find yourself doing or saying the opposite of what you’re wanting, take that thought captive and correct yourself with the bridge thought.

If you’re working on changing your toxic thoughts - ones that have words like “should” “shouldn’t” and “if only” “I can’t” “I’m not” in them - then your Application of your detox might be so say to yourself, “No, I’m not saying that anymore. I’m putting down the manual and the expectations.” Or, if you’re ruminating on a past event - you keep playing it over and over again in your head - you might say, “Nope. I choose to stop letting that dominate my mind and taking up valuable space in my brain.” It would be helpful here to attach a scripture to these declarations. Like 1 Corinthians 2:16, “I have the mind of Christ - keen, stable, and sharp. Again, it’s vitally important to take thoughts captive before they create permanent change in your brain (2 Cor 10:5).

So, there we are friend. Your protocol to Detox Your Brain. Awareness, Write, Rewire, and Application. Do this for 21 days if you’re serious about making permanent, positive changes to your life. I know God wants you living in this freedom. Jesus came that you might have life, and life abundantly (John 10:10). We can only do this with a toxic-free brain, and He’s giving you the prescription to do it.

Detoxing your brain is a process. And sometimes we need someone outside of our own brains to help us along. If this is you and you’re serious about making some changes, I’d love to be your Life Coach and help you do this.

I’ve put a link in the show notes for a free 30-minute call just so we can see if we’re a good fit to work together and show you how Life Coaching would work for you.

Also, don’t forget to get the free, downloadable guide that complements this episode. It has a few prompt questions that will help you personally work through some of the things I’ve talked about today. It’s like a little Life Coaching at home.

Have a wonderful week, friends. See you next Wednesday for the next episode of Another Beautiful Life podcast.

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