Part of what makes us unhappy is related to our own habits and behaviors.
Growing up, we develop habits and behaviors based on education, culture, experience or so forth.
Nevertheless there are 3 steps that will lead us to hold habits in autopilot in your life.
Step 1: Learn something new, at first it seems uncomfortable like walking or driving a car for the first time
Step 2: You repeat the task or activity several times to become familiar with it and your brain identify trigger and emotion.
Step 3: one day your brain as a computer record the trigger, the emotion and the action tied to it and you have a new habit or behavior
Neuroscientists have traced our habit-making behaviors to a part of the brain called the basal ganglia, which also plays a key role in the development of emotions, memories and pattern recognition. Decisions, meanwhile, are made in a different part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. But as soon as a behavior becomes automatic, the decision-making part of your brain goes into a sleep mode of sorts.
Changing habits will require often more effort than adopting a new one because we will not have to compete with an old ingrained habit wired deeply in our brain.
Recently one of my friend was wishing for an easy instant process to get rid of old habits and patterns. There is no such thing yet available on the market. A huge marketplace is opened to anyone daring enough. Until then what do we do when we realize a bad habit or behavior is holding us back? How do we let go of it and commit to our desire for sustainable change?
Prepare the soil
People tend to discard the first two most important steps of the change process when wanting to kiss an old habit goodbye. Before altering the habit, it is important to understand it. *What do we do?
*How do we do it?
*Where does it come from?
*What is the trigger?
*How does this habit made us feel so far?
Most of my clients wants to go from A (old habit) to B (new habit) in an instant or so. To get from point A to point B in real life, you must know where you are before going where you want to go. Then, to ensure you get to your destination it makes sense to evaluate how to get there. Do we walk? Take the bus? Drive a car? Fly out?
What motivated us to be where we are at the first place?
What has motivated us to wanting to place B?
You get the process. To be successful and anchor new habits and new behaviors we better understand them first so we save ourselves failed attempts and disappointment.
During this first phase the emotional aspect of the habit is as important as the habit itself. If the emotion feels good or remind you of a good time with a loved one or has developed has a protective habit, chances are some work will need to be done to detach from the emotional tie before even starting to adopt a new habit.
People who want to lose weight for example might have a big challenge not so much in exercise and following a diet from the mental aspect of it but more about the emotional tie they have with food or meals. The pleasure of eating or the comfort food brings to some people must be taken into consideration so they can recreate with their new habit a similar feeling.
When you have identified all those parameters, you will have 50% of what you need to kiss this old habit goodbye.
Fertilizing the ground
Old behaviors stick and it is easy to fall back. Don’t worry about relapses unless you have an addiction and in this case a trained therapist will assist you further in the process.
During this phase what matters the most is to set you mind to accept that change is a process. Be aware of your old habit, become the observer and catch it increasingly often. Don’t fight it much and it will become weaker every day. Instead practice as well your new behavior or habit in parallel and tie to it as pleasant emotion. Exercising can be fun, eating broccoli can be exquisite too!
When I chose to be vegetarian a few years ago, to align to my core values. It was not an easy task and did it anyway. I analyzed what was my old habit of eating meat, what it brought me and what emotion it was tied too. I discovered I was attached to it because my Fiancé loves meat and eating at delicious restaurant where we have fabulous time together. The day I made the decision was such a disappointment for him and a challenge for me as it meant our special moments could be gone forever. It was not, after some time, we started again to go to fancy restaurants and I would ensure the menu would have a great vegetarian option or a large selection of sides and desserts.
When you understand that, everything will seem easier. Indeed, it is important to focus on the daily small steps and not on the ultimate goal. Be content about what you committed to accomplish today and if have done it even partially you are a rock Star, already closer to your ideal habit.
3 KEY Steps You’ve Been Missing to Replace Any Old Habit
How do you kiss old habits goodbye? The process is a little more in-depth than you think, but it comes down to three key steps.
When we learn something new it seems uncomfortable, but we repeat the task enough that our brain learns the emotions of the activities. Then, our brain learns to record the trigger, emotion, and action therefore anchoring the habit. The problem is, we don’t often question our habits once they’re formed.
Wish there was an easy way to get rid of old habits? There’s no such thing for now. What we have to do is realize we have bad habits and then we can change them.
How do we do this?
Step One: Understand the Habit
The first step is to ask yourself self-reflecting questions to get to the root of your habit. This action is essential!
What is your habit?
Where does it come from?
What is the trigger of this habit?
How does this habit make you feel?
How is this habit affecting your life?
Most of my clients want to go from old habit to new habit in an instant, but to go from another, you have to first find out where you are. What’s motivating you to start this new habit and why did you get into the old habit in the first place? When you understand this, you can save yourself from future disappointments.
During the first phase of creating a new habit, the emotional aspect of the old habit is just as important as the new habit. If the old emotion feels good or reminds you of a good time with a loved one, you will need to detach from the emotional tie before creating a replacement habit.
For example, those who want to lose weight might have a strong emotional tie to the pleasure of eating. This feeling must be considered in order to create a new habit with a similar feeling.
When you’ve reflected on your old habits, you will have 50% of what you need to kiss it goodbye!
Step Two: Accept the Process
It’s easy to fall back into old behaviors. That’s why so many of us give up! During this phase, what matters most is to set your mind to accept that change is a process.
Watch out for your old habit. Simply observe and catch yourself as often as possible. There’s no need to get upset as you’re learning your new habit. The old way of doing things will happen less and less as you practice your new behavior and tie it to a pleasant emotion. Exercising can be fun. Eating healthy can be a blast. It’s up to you to train your brain to think that way.
When I chose to be vegetarian a few years ago, to align to my core values, it wasn’t easy. I analyzed my old habit of eating meat, what it brought me and what emotion it was tied too. I discovered I was attached to it because my fiancé loved meat and eating at delicious restaurants where we have fabulous time together.
The day I made the decision to be a vegetarian was such a disappointment to him and a challenge for me as it meant our special moments could be gone forever. But they weren’t and after some time, we started to go to fancy restaurants again. I made sure the menu had a great vegetarian option or a large selection of sides and desserts.
Step Three: Tell the World
When you tell the world things are changing, you have accountability partners everywhere.
For example, you might decide to quit smoking. I had to do the same and when I decided to quit I realized what I missed was the feeling of friendship and spending time with friends. Today I still spend time with family and friends, just in another fashion.
How do you continue and sustain your new habit? When you have accountability partners, make sure you surround yourself with people who will encourage you. Even if you relapse or need to tweak something, you want the right people to support you. If you have a naysayer or complainer if your life, try out a new environment and see how it leads to your success.
When you understand the process of creating new habits, everything will seem easier. As you do this, it’s important to focus on daily small steps and not the final goal. Be content with what you’re committed to accomplishing today. If you’ve done it even partially you are already closer to your ideal habit.