I don’t know about you, but I’m a fan of origin stories. I love origin stories in comic books as well as in movies. I just like seeing how it all began. What’s crazy to me is that nobody asks me the origin story of The Rewired Soul.
So sit back, relax, and let me tell you about how absolutely hopeless I was for a long time until I learned about something called “neuroplasticity”.
A Life of Hopelessness
I was lost for many years, and it wasn’t just my addiction. One of the reasons I continued drinking and using drugs was because I felt like an absolute dumpster fire of a human being. I was a terrible person to others, and I was awful to myself.
If I’m being honest, when I told my family to give up on me 7 years ago and just let me die from my addiction, it was more than just wanting to die. Most of it had to do with knowing how much of a waste of space I was on this planet. I was contributing absolutely nothing to this world. In fact, I felt like each day that I was alive, the world was a little bit worse.
I know I’m not that important, and I wasn’t the cause of suffering in the world, but I did play an active role in destroying the lives of anyone who came in contact with me. If I was making everyone’s lives worse, I felt like I’d be doing my son a favor if I was no longer around.
Luckily, my mom helped me get sober. When I share the story about early recovery, I tell people that I was suicidal for the first three months, and they’re confused.
Well, even though I was sober. I was still hopeless. I couldn’t imagine my life getting better. A piece of me knew I could get back on my feet financially, but that’s not what I was hopeless about. I was hopeless about the agonizing pain of being stuck with this awful brain of mine.
There’s a misconception that when people get sober; they become these little angels. Nah, man. I was still a pretty awful person doing all sorts of fuckery.
I stole cigarettes and food from my roommates in sober living. I was stealing money from my mom’s purse, and it was to buy coffee and cigarettes instead of drugs and alcohol. I lied to people constantly and had absolutely no control over my temper.
The Rewiring Begins
I named my first book HOPE because that’s the only reason I’m alive today. Sitting in the rooms of 12-step meetings, I heard scores of stories of people who were just as bad or worse than me, and now they were awesome.
By the way, I don’t think addicts in recovery get enough credit. I’ve met so many people who used to be the most ruthless, self-centered individuals, and now they’re the most giving people you’ll ever meet.
Because of this, I got a little bit of hope that maybe I could change too. If they used to be liars and thieves and now are productive members of society, good friends, children and parents, maybe I could do that too.
I’ll spare you the details of working through my steps, but they changed me. For a long time, I didn’t notice the change in me, but other people did. They noticed how much nicer and calm I was. They noticed how I began giving rather than taking, and I eventually noticed it in myself.
Trust in Neuroplasticity
I was 27 years old when I got sober, and I didn’t think a change was possible. If you’re like me, you’ve been sold a story from a young age that “old dogs can’t learn new tricks”. This is an epidemic of problematic thinking, and people of all ages are victims of it.
Working in treatment, I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who truly believed they couldn’t change even if they wanted to, and I know that feeling too well. The reality is that no matter how old you are the brain continues to grow and change.
My nerdery in neuroscience started when I learned about neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the science of how the brain grows and changes. This isn’t a scientific theory either. This is a scientific fact. And it explained how I was able to change.
The first time I heard about neuroplasticity was when I learned about meditation. They’ve done brain studies of people who never meditated before, and then they did follow up studies after months of meditation practice, and they saw how the prefrontal cortex has become stronger. This is the part of the brain responsible for everything from impulse control, to emotional regulation, to self-awareness, impulse control and more.
Later, I started learning about evidence-based therapy like CBT. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of the most popular forms of therapy because it’s backed by science. How did it get backed by science? Because through practicing CBT methods, your brain begins to change.
Then there was the first book I read on depression, which was The Upward Spiral by Alex Korb as well as The Craving Mind by Dr. Judson Brewer. They’re both neuroscientists who specialize in how different methods and activities Rewire the neuropathways of the brain.
There are thousands of scientific studies out there that give concrete examples about how we can rewire our brains. Once I learned this, I named my YouTube channel The Rewire. I wanted to do it as a reminder to myself and everyone out there that your brain is never “stuck”.
Sure, some of us may struggle with certain disorders that may never go away, but different forms of therapy and coping skills will improve our mental health. It’s like fixing up a not-so-great car. It may not be the best thing on the road, but if it can get you from point A to B safely, it did a damn good job, and that’s what we can all do with our brains, and we can’t ever forget that.
So, why did I change the name to the Rewired Soul? My mom and I have a dream of working together, and her private practice was called Soul Solutions, so we came up with The Rewired Soul. We’re both people who have been Rewired and now live incredible lives, and now it’s our passion to help others.
If you’re looking for affordable therapy from the comfort of your own home, I personally use BetterHelp online therapy. I have a badass therapist, and I highly recommend this easy-to-use service. By clicking here to sign up, it helps support the work I do as well.
Originally published at https://www.therewiredsoul.com on November 28, 2019.