Changing your thought patterns and emotional responses is one of the most difficult things to accomplish. I’ve heard it said that by age 15, our personalities are very entrenched. People repeat the same mistakes over and over again despite trying very hard to change. Why is it so hard to change? Is there a secret that will allow you to change your behavior/bad habits quickly and permanently?
I’m a true omnivore. I eat everything—vegetables, meat, junk food. There’s not much I have an aversion to. As a result, I need to lose weight. Not just to look good in my clothes, but to have more energy as well. I’ve done it before, but I was hoping not to have to do it again. There’s only one problem—my bad habits.
What Are Habits?
Habits are rituals. I have a nightly ritual that started with the best of intentions. I don’t like to eat once I brush my teeth in the evening so I decided one night to have a cookie and brush my teeth afterwards. That was 10 years and many cookies ago.
Any rehabilitated cigarette smoker will tell you it takes 6 or 7 tries to change a habit. So, how do you get your behavior to match your intentions every day? Our mind is the only tool we have.
By the time we are 35 years old we reach a point where our personality becomes a set of memorized behaviors and emotional reactions that runs like an automated program. Dr. Joe Dispenza, author of Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself
For starters, you have to have hope. You have to believe it is possible to change, and it starts with your thoughts.
Meditation is a great technique to help reprogram the mind. While meditating, you can mentally practice how you want your day to go. Over time, it’s like installing new neurological hardware. You create a new habit of mind.
Since habits—rituals—are a crutch, use them to your benefit by creating new ones. The key here is to make sure they’re not too difficult. Don’t sign up for an exercise class on the other side of town. Instead, commit to walking the dog every evening. You can meditate at the same time. Now, it has become a daily ritual of renewal.
Another trick is to remember past successes. It’s just as important to celebrate past success as it is to overcome past failure. We have all succeeded at something so don’t gloss over it. Use that success as a reminder that you can achieve your goals.
Lately I’ve been on a tear to find resources to help reframe my thoughts and push past my comfort zone. Besides Joe Dispenza’s excellent book, another gem is The Motivated Mind. It teaches how to make a change when you can’t seem to get motivated.
I’m doing this now because I don’t want to be one of those people who make New Year’s Resolutions that go nowhere. That can turn into a yet another bad habit.
One study that followed people for a year found the most successful people set up a small series of goals and rewarded themselves along the way. They made a plan based on the benefits and stuck to it which is what I learned from my reading. However, along with that approach, the ebook also teaches a simple principle that I;ve never seen explained so profoundly.
Personal change is hard but not impossible. The right tools can make it a little easier. Keep in mind if a ship changes course by just one degree, it will end up at a different destination.
Click here to get your copy of The Motivated Mind.
If you’re looking to break the habit of being yourself, these resources will help you make permanent change.