Understanding your thought patterns and how the brain works provides a frame of reference for creating a healthy attitude, improving your self-esteem and boosting your confidence.

Brain Pathways

The brain is made up of cells called neurons. These cells have nerve endings called synapses and dendrites. Nerve endings release chemical and electrical stimuli to communicate with each other. This communication forms neuro-pathways in the brain and is the basis for how the brain works.

When you initially learn something the brain pathway or connection is weak. The more frequently you think a particular thought the stronger the pathway becomes, forming an automatic and eventually unconscious habit of thinking. This is called brain training.

We’ll use learning to ride a bicycle as an example of how brain pathways are formed. When you are first learning to ride a bicycle you must consciously pay attention to staying balanced, keeping your eyes on the road, holding onto the handlebars and steering in your desired direction. Then the more you practice, the stronger your bicycle riding pathways become.

Eventually you are able to get on your bicycle and ride without thinking. You're operating on automatic. A strong brain pathway, that coordinates all of the things you previously had to consciously focus your attention on, has been created. It is as though new brain software – bicycle riding software – has been uploaded and is seamlessly operating in your mind.

How Your Attitudes and Self-Esteem is Formed

Your brain works the same way in forming your attitude and what you think about yourself. As a child your attitudes and thoughts about yourself are formed from the messages you’ve heard and believed from important and influential people in your life – you parents, siblings, teachers, friends, etc. . .

For example, if you were continually made fun of by classmates and not invited to play with them when you were a child, you have probably developed a negative attitude and low self-esteem thought pattern regarding friends and social situations. As a result, as an adult, obsessive thinking, reflecting these thought patterns and brain pathways, may automatically surface in social gatherings where you experience anxiety, fear and nervousness based on thoughts like:

• People don’t like me.
• I was only invited because they had to.
• Nobody’s going to talk to me.
• I don’t know what to say.

These beliefs, charged with emotional energy and acted on with conviction are what we call your dominant thought pattern or dominant attitude. They operate on automatic, like a habit, and are the thoughts that trigger, consciously and unconsciously your feelings and reactions to the circumstances of your life.

Good News: Thought Patterns Can Be Changed!

When you become aware of your attitude and beliefs – what you are thinking and feeling, you can choose and practice creating new brain pathways by consciously choosing and developing new thoughts and behaviors. With practice, your new thoughts will become your dominate thoughts replacing old patterns of thinking and attitudes.

Creating New Brain Pathways – How to Do It

Step 1: Awareness All change begins with awareness. Awareness describes a state of consciousness in which you are alert and awake.

Awareness allows you to:

• Notice your thoughts, feelings, word and actions.
• Identify your attitude and beliefs.
• Determine if your dominant brain pathways support your dreams and goals.

Practice: Focus your attention on the present moment:
• What do you see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Feel?
• What thoughts are you thinking?
• Remember you can always become aware of which brain pathway is operating by actively listening to your self-talk.

Step 2: Choice Choice is the act of making a decision. Consciously choosing the thoughts and feelings that support a healthy attitude and your goals and dreams. Awareness partnered with choice allows you to:

• Accept responsibility for your thoughts.
• Be empowered to make conscious choices that support your desired result.
• Understand and use the creative power always available in the present moment to support your dreams and goals.

Practice: Make the choice to become aware your thoughts:
• Choose and attitude or goal you desire.
• Make a list of the thoughts, feelings, words and actions that nourish your attitude or goal.
• Read your list at least twice a day – when you wake in the morning and before you go to sleep at night.

Step 3: Change Change is where the rubber meets the road, where you put into practice the choices you have made, transforming your thoughts and feelings regarding your attitude and goals.

This does not mean there won't be times when you are confronted with your fears of failure or success, or that you won't, on occasion, question your ability to succeed. What it does mean is that as soon as you notice sabotaging brain pathways running your life you will:

• Be awake to your feelings.
• Identify your thoughts.
• Shift your attention to thoughts, feelings, words and action that directly support your dreams.
Practice: Have and new thought and change your thinking whenever you notice you are sabotaging your desired result:
• Use your list, you made in Step 2 Choice, whenever you notice that sabotaging brain pathways are operating.
• Acknowledge yourself for noticing your brain pathways and re-focusing your attention on what you desire.

©2010 Susyn Reeve & Joan Breiner. All Rights Reserved – www.Self-Esteem-Experts.com

Author's Bio: 

Joan Breiner & Susyn Reeve have transformed their lives by using the tools and techniques presented on their website http://www.Self-Esteem-Experts.com. They know that maintaining a positive attitude starts with making a conscious choice and then using the information, exercises, worksheets and Daily Inspirations, on their site, to support you in developing and maintaining a positive attitude no matter what is going on in your life.

They co-founded www.CelebrateAHero.com. A website to celebrate the special people in your life by making personalized gift books. Susyn is the co-creator of www.WithForgiveness.com and the author of Choose Peace & Happiness, The Gift of the Acorn and WITH Forgiveness Personal E-Workbook.

Additional Resources on Attitude can be found at:

Website Directory for Attitude
Articles on Attitude
Products for Attitude
Discussion Board
Joan Breiner, M.Ed. & Susyn Reeve, M.Ed., The Official Guides to Attitude