It’s no secret that goals are the key to success with anything. With this in mind, it’s good understand how and why this is the case so we can feel motivated to take action. In this case, we’re not just talking about movement and health related goals, but this can be applied to any dimension of life – careers, connections and meaningful pursuits.
When we look at neuroscience, meaning is everything. The nervous system can change in two ways; either by creating new pathways (connections) and by inhibiting pathways (inhibition). Inhibition is especially important for survival. Without it, we wouldn’t have clear thoughts and wouldn’t be able to create meaning from what our senses are telling us about the world around us. How our brains choose what to inhibit depends on what is most important to us, this is rooted in what we value deep down which stems from past experiences, preconditioning and cultures.
So you might be wondering what this has to do with your goals? Although our brains are powerful and amazing, they are also flawed. Brains and nervous systems will create inhibitory patterns after injury, trauma or anything that threatens survival. These patters are interconnected with your bodies and minds which essentially means that if avoidance or movement patterns start to take hold (like a limp), we tend to just grow around them. This doesn’t just take place with physical injuries but also emotional insults. It’s the reason that it can feel like the loss of a loved one happened only yesterday or why that backpacking trip in your 20’s can feel like it just happened. We carry our most meaningful experiences closest to our hearts.
So the question is, how can we use this for benefit?
Firstly, ask yourself what you truly value in life. You need to be honest and look at yourself critically to really understand. Is it family, survival, money, power, a sense of importance, freedom to move?
Secondly, your goals will be far more effective if they’re structured around something that’s meaningful to you. Whether that’s the feeling of winning a race, hiking around the mountains or spending time with your family – it’s these meaningful experiences that will help your nervous system break those inhibitions and help you to do what you never thought was possible.
Thirdly, avoid saying things to yourself like “I want to be pain free” or “I want to move without the clicking in my knee/shoulder/hip”. You see, when your goals are centered around something like pain or undesired experiences, it actually strengthens the parts of your brain that give awareness to that experience. This often will have the opposite effect of what we’re talking about, there will be more inhibitory pathways and a stronger perception of what you’re trying to get rid of. This will also have the effect of overriding the emotional part of the brain that makes you feel peace and joy. So, when you actually reach your goals, your brain will be too focused on pain or dysfunction to actually take in the moment. The moment gets lost those beautiful parts of life won't come with you.
The best way to practice all of the above is through self-reflection, meditation and dedicated exercise. I’ve included all of this and a whole lot more in the ebook. You can structure your own meaningful goals and break through your inhibitions in your own time. It's sometimes also good to talk things through with an integrative physiotherapist.
Write me back with any questions or comments I’d love to discuss this with you!