Photo of Dr Leanna Manuel

Practice Makes Perfect

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If you ever took piano lessons as a child I’m sure you heard the words, “practice makes perfect.” While I’m not a fan of the word “perfect”, the general concept that repetition improves performance is valid. There is a caveat, the repetition must be approximating the desired result, not repeating the errors.

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The phrase “neurons that fire together wire together” was first used by the Canadian neuropsychologist Donald Hebb in 1949. The gist is that the more frequently you utilize a specific neural pathway, the stronger it becomes. So, if you play the same piano keys in a sequence over and over again that pattern creates somewhat of a superhighway in your brain.

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This is great if what you are practicing is something you want to keep in your brain and it serves your greater purpose. Practice makes perfect after all. But what do you think happens if you say to yourself, aloud or silently, that you are stupid, fat, anxious, or worthless? Bingo! That creates a superhighway too.

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Over time, superhighways in the brain become resistant to change and you need to build off ramps. Once the off ramps are created and used frequently, the original negative superhighway crumbles or can be closed. How do you build an off ramp? You can build one by refuting the negative statement and creating a new one.

Examples:

Highway: I am stupid

Off ramp: That wasn’t my best moment but I am a smart person.

Highway: I am fat

Off ramp: I am working with my body to become more lean

Highway: I am anxious

Off ramp: Sometimes I feel nervous just like everybody else and I choose to remain confident in my ability to handle life’s challenges

Highway: I am depressed

Off ramp: My mood has been lower than I would like recently so it is time to take positive action

Highway: I am worthless

Off ramp: I am a wonderful and perfectly created child of God

It is important to use the off ramps at least as often, if not more often than you travel down the negative superhighway.

I usually recommend that you use journaling as you begin the process. There seems to be somethig beneficial about making these statements formally and seeing them in written format. Saying it aloud is also beneficial.

Remember….what you practice will grow stronger. Practice makes perfect. Choose wisely!


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