The basics of any positive choice therapy is that you catch unwanted thoughts, focus on a new thought or belief and then try to store that information as new cognitions about the same trigger situation or thought.
The basics are described visually below. Let's put anxiety aside for a moment and focus on your brain habits, which are the changeable loops, or filters, we are targeting with neuroplasticity retraining. The trick here is to both catch the loop at the beginning (with the bad thought/trigger) and to intentionally begin cognitive processes (your chosen thoughts) so that over time this new reality becomes what you emotionally respond to. It's a tough process, and we'll coach you through it over the course of our sessions.
This process will increase overall positivity in your life once you build the skills to catch, process and reprogram input faster than the rate of negativity from the old loops.
My experience is that clients begin to fully understand this process by trial-and-error at the beginning. Then, once fully understood, the challenge becomes one of finding a trigger during the negative input that will activate the filter process. Remember that "neurons that fire together, wire together" which means we need to find a trigger for the positive filter that coincides with the negative thought. It doesn't work to practice these things separately.
We could wait for these things to happen naturally, and practice them over long periods of time, but I believe we can make these neurological changes happen a lot faster by setting up some practice!
To set up a simulation, we will learn to trigger the negative cognition while queueing yourself for the filter. You may call someone while you have a cognitive cue card in your hand or you may set a reminder for yourself so you can think about the anxiety for 3 minutes and then think about your new cognitions for 5 minutes afterwards. Once this active trigger process has been done for a few cycles, you may notice that when the negative cognition happens, you start to automatically start the filter process.
The more active approach to neuroplasticity enhancement and retraining helps you figure out a preferred reality, or story, and prime yourself with a lot of self-talk so that you can catch yourself in the act of the problem-flooded cognitions. In this instance, you'll need to figure out some way to pair the negative thoughts with your new, productive thoughts.
The way this could look is to find something that coincides with the negative thoughts. For example: When you get to the office, you become anxious about talking to my co-workers. Maybe you prime yourself by thinking about who you may see first and then pair that person with your new cognition.
It takes a lot of repetition to create new neural connections or to let old ones become less strong. Also not every trick will work. But the process of frequently practicing a new, preferred way of thinking will slowly change your brain functioning. It will create a new you.