Neural Pathway Disruption

My goal in creating a cooling in-leave conditioner was to create a new habit. Pulling can be like an automatic movement that becomes almost irresistible to urges. It may start from anxiety and stress, but over time the neural pathways become ingrained and it’s just what feels right to do.

The goal in making Prohibere was never to be a quick fix or a “cure”. The goal was just to disrupt the behavior and with a lot of work, and make the pulling more infrequent and less uncontrollable.

Habit Reversal Therapy has helped some people but it’s so easy to backslide. Traditionally, patients were trained to “fist clench” instead of pull hair. I tried this but it didn’t work for me. So I decided to make something that would still generate a sensation since I wondered if the sensation of hair being pulled drove the behavior (for me atleast).

How do we fix a neural pathway behavior? Practice. Have you ever learned a movement and years later still know how to do it? It’s because the neural pathways are ingrained. Is this the issue with trich?

Path of Least Resistance

Most people live on autopilot most of the time. This is because our neural pathways operate under the law of least effort, or the path of least resistance. The most worn path is the strongest and easiest to travel. It’s like traveling down a super highway. It allows you to conserve mental energy and respond quickly to your life experiences. This type of automatic conditioning can be seen in the body memory of professional athletes or top piano players. It can also be seen the last time you drove home from work yet didn’t recall the entire trip.

What can you do instead of pull? Is it possible to step away and do something you like? Not always.

Visualizing

Visualization is almost as powerful as the real thing given your brain cannot tell the difference between something real or imagined. Research shows that anytime you are thinking, you are engaging and thus conditioning neural pathways. Consequently, whether you are reminiscing about the past, thinking about the present or anticipating the future you are strengthening the neural networks associated with whatever you are thinking about. 

What about visualizing stopping before you have to stop? Will you imagine feeling the strength and power? Intensity of emotion and feeling is required to take an experience and make it a solidified habit. The more emotion you engage, the more neurons you activate to form well-worn pathways.

Repetition and Practice

Neural pathways are strengthened into habits through the repetition and practice of thinking, feeling and acting.

You can do this without buying anything if you are limited on funds. Putting lotion on your hands the first time you pull and repeating it for every attempt after that may suffice. What also will help? Practice in the mirror. It sounds stupid but reaching up to a hair as if you were to pull and then grabbing your lotion or Prohibere, 20 times in a row can strengthen the neural pathway. Repeat this each day.

Don’t want to use a product? Practice moving your hand up to pull and with the other hand, swatting it away. Repeat 25-30 times. Every time you go to the bathroom you fit in a “work out”. See if you can condition your body to start swatting the hand away when you start to pull on it own.

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How do we know practicing stopping could help? Police are trained to disarm a suspect in a specific way at the academy where they usually give the gun back to the person they trained with. They repeat this movement quickly and many times. They do this so much in training that in real life, they also disarm and then return the gun back to suspects! It became a real problem that needed to be addressed in training.

What if I practice but I still fall into a pulling episode? RECORD the time, place, and activity. Rate how much you wanted to pull, how many hairs pulled, how many times you pulled and if you were able to stop. Bag the hair to hold yourself accountable. If each time you pulled you had to record it and then put it in a bag, you would start to find it harder to pull because you would be looking at the “work” to do after pulling. The trick is forcing yourself to record EACH time.

Ok, great but what if I still can’t stop pulling?!?!

I get it. All this stuff is great in theory but sometimes life get hard and so stressful. Sometimes you can’t do it all. Some days trich wins. Can you step away and meditate? Can you ask yourself why you might be pulling? Did something trigger you? Were you watching a movie for too long and your body got restless? Do you feel anxious about something? Can you take a hot shower? Can you look at something online real quick to make you laugh?

Meditation

The true masters of manifesting meditate daily. When you meditate you slow down the nonsense, ungrounded chatter of the busy mind and access the calm abiding wisdom of your inner awareness and the skill of laser focus. Meditation is the process of relaxing the body and quieting the mind. In order to tap into the benefits of neural plasticity you have to disengage the stress response and stimulate the relaxation response. When you are stressed your brain rigidly defers to the strongest neural pathways out of survival and the path of least resistance. Consequently, during stress you do not have access to newly formed neural networks because they have not been tried and proven yet. Most people live in a perpetual state of stress believing feeling tense, time pressured or overwhelmed is the norm. This is simply not true and is the result of an undisciplined mind and body.

Headspace is free! Practice in the mirror is free! I believe you can make steps to lessen the grip trich holds on your life. It may never be 100% gone but it can be disempowered. The fact that you read this and can consider trying something new is a good start to changing your trich. Keep creating a new neural pathway! Good luck!



Emily Kight