How Your Habits Are Taking Charge of You (Instead Of You Taking Charge of Them)
HOW HABITS WORK
The truth is that most of us who are inconsistent or quit our journey are not lazy, do not give in too easily, and do try our best! Motivation and willpower are great tools to tackle short-term goals. However, long-term lifestyle changes require a different approach. Motivation naturally drops after we get started with the quest, and just living life depletes willpower.
Because this is how our brain is wired.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s divide the mind in the executive (or conscious) and habitual (or unconscious) parts. The conscious part is responsible for your rational thoughts and speech, while the unconscious part takes care of your emotions and reactions, as well as everything you do when you are on auto-pilot: driving, eating, brushing your teeth, and so on.
Guess which part of your brain controls your habits? You're right; the unconscious one.
Translation? Well, you cannot, for example, decide that from now on you will be going to the gym six times a week for an hour and a half each time. To be accurate, you can actually make this decision, but even if you do, it won’t matter—at least not after the first week.
Because you make these decisions with rational thought, using the conscious part of your brain. However, the conscious part of your brain has no control over habits. You’ve just decided to alter your habits, but the unconscious part of your brain is the habits lord and the boss! What you have control of is maybe the following week, but the following year? No. This is under the boss’ authority.
Did the unconscious part of your brain agree with your well-thought-out resolution to become a gym junkie? Not really.
If the boss does not approve the plan, then the plan does not get carried out. If you would like to live healthier and yet you don’t, then the boss hasn’t approved your plan yet.
This is why so many people quit. They haven’t yet persuaded the boss! This is how you gained twelve pounds in two years—the boss had not approved any of your healthy-living plans.
So the question becomes: How can you persuade the boss to make a lasting lifestyle change? The boss does not respond well to big, rapid changes. That journey is great for our executive brain, but not for our habitual brain.
Our habitual brain (the boss) actually responds well to the exact opposite—the down-to-earth journey.
1. Go for mini change. Big changes turn on your boss’ fight-or-flight response (run by the amygdala in your brain). When change is big, the boss chooses flight. Try mini change instead to avoid waking up the amygdala. Five minutes of exercise a day may not impress your executive brain, but they do wonders with the boss.
2. Take quests that are easy. Easy quests make you feel accomplishment and send positive messages to the boss to keep going. The boss cannot wait to get more of that! It loves feeling accomplished. Habits are built and you are well on your way to success.
Long-term success is not just about the amount of effort you devote. Long-term goals need consistency.
Thoughts + Self-Talk, Clearing Out The Junk
In order to have the body and life you envision, you are going to have to dig deep. You’re going to clear out the junk that keeps you going back to the junk. To be successful, you must let go of everything you think about who you are in this world. Forget all the nasty names you say to yourself when you look in the mirror, or when you beat yourself up for ditching the diet.
Instead you are going to visualize what life looks like when you are happy, free, and feeling inspired.
Be mindful of the language you use, even when you say something in your head.
How much better does it feel to say “I’d love to have more energy” instead of “I am so tired all the time”? Rather than saying, “I’m out of shape”, try “I’m getting fit!”
Affirmations are positive statements that can help you to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. When you repeat them often, and believe in them, you can start to make positive changes.
When you don’t want to face the day:
What if this day were to bring me a great joy.
I bet today will be a day to remember. I want to go and greet it.
My thoughts are my reality and I am thinking of a bright new day.
I fill this day with hope and face it with joy.
The day will come and go, whether I participate or not. I’d like to participate.
When you come face to face with a problem:
I am safe and sound.
Everything is going to work out for my highest good.
There is a great reason that this is unfolding before me now.
I have the smarts and the ability to get through this.
Every problem has a solution, and I seek my solution with resolve.
When you want to do more with your life but feel stuck:
I attempt all possible ways to get unstuck.
I seek a new way of thinking about this situation.
I know the answer is right before me, even if I am not seeing it.
I believe in my ability to unlock the way and set myself free.
When you feel you are not good enough no matter how hard you try:
I am more than good enough and I get better every day.
I give up the right to criticize myself.
I adopt the mindset to praise myself.
I see the perfection in all my flaws and all my genius.
I fully approve of who I am, even as I get better.
I judge myself to be both good and great at all times of day and night.
When you want to give up:
I cannot give up until I have tried every conceivable way.
Giving up is easy and always an option so let’s delay it for another day.
It is always too early to give up, so let me give it some more.
I know what awaits me at the end of this rope so I will not give up.
When you recognize how powerful, gifted, talented and brilliant you really are:
The past has no power and no hold over me anymore
I embrace the rhythm and the flowing of my own heart.
All that I need will come to me at the right time and place in this life.
I am deeply fulfilled with who I am.
“A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit.” ~Erasmus
Challenging the Self-Talk
Once you start looking at it, you’ll probably be surprised by how much of your thinking is inaccurate, exaggerated, or focused on the negatives. Whenever you find yourself feeling depressed, angry, anxious or upset, use this as your signal to stop and become aware of your thoughts.
A good way to test the accuracy of your perceptions might be to ask yourself the reality of that self talk. This question will help you to check out your self-talk to see whether your current view is reasonable.
What is my evidence for and against my thinking?
Are my thoughts factual, or are they just my interpretations?
Am I jumping to negative conclusions?
How can I find out if my thoughts are actually true?
BELIEVE YOU CAN DO IT
Thought-Stopping: As you notice yourself saying something negative in your mind, you can stop your thought mid-stream my saying to yourself “STOP”. Saying this aloud will be more powerful, and having to say it aloud will make you more aware of how many times you are stopping negative thoughts, and where.
Kristina Le Claire is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist specializing in helping people find their inner light. Her Hypnotherapy and Clinical Practice are designed to empower, showing that anyone can change their life path, regardless of circumstances and to understand that the key in changing their lives is to believe anything is possible. To truly live the life of your dreams, contact the good light