Embracing the Discomfort: How New Practices Take Root in the Brain

Woman journaling


We are going to delve into an interesting facet of human behavior and neuroscience: How our brain reacts when we try to incorporate new practices into our life. It’s no small feat; our brain is a creature of habit, geared to make a staggering average of 35,000 decisions a day. So how can you effectively teach your old brain some new tricks? Let’s take a closer look.

The Brain’s Highways

Think of your brain as having built-in “highways” that guide its decision-making processes. These highways are crafted from a lifetime of experiences, challenges, and even traumas. Unfortunately, not all of these highways lead to positive outcomes; many can veer us into negative thinking and unwanted results. That’s why it’s essential to learn new practices that serve us better. But herein lies the challenge.

Vulnerability, Learning, and Change

The formula here is simple yet powerful: vulnerability leads to learning, which then begets healing, change, and growth. When you try to introduce a new behavioral practice into your routine, your brain, which is already committed to its existing highways, may resist. This resistance is normal; in fact, your initial impulse might be to reject the new practice outright because it feels uncomfortable or weird.

Persist Through the Discomfort

If you find yourself wanting to “kick a new practice to the curb,” that’s actually a good sign. It indicates that you’re challenging your established neural pathways, which is the first step in forming new, healthier ones. Feeling uncomfortable means that you’re in the process of learning and growing. But for the new practice to take root, you must persist. You must push through that discomfort until the practice becomes ingrained and starts yielding the positive outcomes you’re seeking.


Adopting a new practice, particularly one that can significantly alter your thinking patterns or behaviors, won’t feel natural at first. It’s akin to taking a detour from a well-worn path to venture through uncharted territory. But remember, it’s in this unfamiliar terrain where true growth happens. The discomfort you feel is just a precursor to change. So, embrace it, persevere, and keep practicing until the new route becomes your brain’s next great highway.