Let Go of Detrimental Habits
We all have habits, most of the time we know what our habits are, and sometimes we can rely on our friends or family to point them out to us!
How many times have you had an intention to change something for the better? You buy a gym membership. Purchase a bulk load of nicotine patches. Promise yourself only one glass of wine, which turns into a daily bottle. Or fall into a guilty pit of despair after you’ve eaten a second piece of chocolate cake.
Did you know that you only have to repeat something for up to 21 days for a habit to form in the unconscious mind?
You create habits and behaviours from social circles, from childhood, your parents/guardians, the media (subliminal stimuli). You're subconsciously mimicking what has been imprinted in your brain by what is going on around you.
It took me many years to change my thinking about smoking, chocolate and wine. I used to have a glass of wine every night during the week. I smoked on my way to and from work. It was definitely a habit more than an addiction.
I used chocolate as an emotional prop after a stressful day at work, and I couldn’t last more than 3 months in the gym! I got SO bored. When we experience pain (emotional or physical), we naturally move away from it into pleasure.
There have been many scientific studies researching into what stops people from successfully completing a goal they set out to do, and the conclusion is that if you're forcing yourself into a lifestyle that does not resonate with you, or that you enjoy – it won’t last!
There has to be a real desire to implement change, and so many people fail at new regimes because they do not congruently want the change. You may have heard someone say in the past “part of me wants this, and the other half doesn’t” yep that is absolutely right. Unless you can bring the two consciously together, you may be setting yourself up to fail before you’ve even started.
You may have struggled in the past to kick a negative habit, and you cannot understand why you keep failing at your desired outcome because you’ve cried, got angry, upset, frustrated at yourself etc.
There are several reasons for this.
- You have limiting beliefs. Perhaps you say to yourself things such as: I can’t do that. I’m no good. I shouldn’t. There is no point because....
- You have fear: Of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection, fear of losing something, fear of what other people might think etc.
- You have addictions. Being physically addicted to something may require professional help.
If you are lazy or constantly making excuses as to why you can’t do something, there is an unconscious fear or limiting belief that you're unaware of.
Procrastination is a great example if this. If you're always putting something off, it could be that you think the task is too big. You don’t understand how to do it. You believe you'll fail. Some people are so attached to their beliefs, they live a life of misery because of it.
It made me sad the other day when I was in my spinning class because one of the people I’ve gotten to know forces herself to go to the gym four days a week, and isn’t enjoying it. She said to me that she will be doing it for the rest of her life because she cannot lose any weight and is scared of putting more on.
What an awful way to live, carrying around that heavy belief!
The sad thing is that all the time she is not enjoying the gym, the worse she is going to feel when she doesn’t go.
The GOOD NEWS is: If habits can be formed, they can also be changed and eliminated completely!
- You have to want the change.
- You have to enjoy the process of doing it and avoid making it “stressful.”
- You have to believe you can do it.
- Repeat Repeat Repeat.
- Celebrate (even when it doesn’t quite go the way you want it to).
How NOT to make a life style change.
Have you ever noticed the stress associated with mainstream dieting?
They're all built on foundations of failure.
- They make you eliminate the things you love – resulting in you wanting it more, and over-eating it the next time you have it.
- You feel hungry, adding stress to the body and for emotional eaters, a feeling of emptiness.
- You are expected to make a lifestyle switch overnight, not giving the unconscious mind a chance to adjust. (This is why most people give up after a week.) As a result, you end up feeling worse than you did before because you feel like a massive failure.
- Emotional triggers are not addressed so if you associate food with an emotion, you will find it very hard to fight those emotional patterns of behavior.
Mainstream dieting is like a plaster covering up a wound that doesn’t heal. Of course, if you need to lose weight quickly for health reasons then this would be a solution, but if you are looking for lasting change, be aware that there could be more to it.
People put a lot of pressure on themselves when they want to let go of a habit that no longer serves them. Don’t beat yourself up if the first few weeks are tough, remember that you need time to adjust. You can follow these simple guidelines to help you.
If you are looking to change something, here are some tips to help:
1. Take baby steps.
Avoid taking big massive steps and break them down into tiny manageable steps so your unconscious mind can adjust to the change.
2. Identify what triggers the undesired behavior.
If your habit is attached to something i.e coffee/alcohol = cigarette; eliminate the trigger first to help abolish the craving.
3. Have your outcome in mind.
What do you want to achieve by letting go of this habit? Write it down, visualise what it will be like when you get there, and keep reminding yourself why you’re doing it.
4. Avoid seeing the process as strange or out of the norm.
When you congratulate yourself for doing something “right” for a whole week, the unconscious mind thinks it’s doing something abnormal, and will attempt to revert you back to the previous patterns of behavior (relapse)/
5. Don’t apply too much pressure on yourself to achieve something life changing straight away.
Success is full of twists and turns. Like an airplane going off course, it always reaches its destination eventually.
With this in mind, let go of any feelings of guilt if you go off track on the odd occasion. It is almost indefinite that you will, but it’s important that you forgive yourself and keep going.
Most importantly, if you keep failing at something be aware that it could be a limiting belief or fear of some kind. Try to find out what this could be. If you would like help in un-ravelling or having more of an understanding about what is sabotaging you, get in touch.
Finally I have put plenty more nuggets of advice in my new ebook How to Create your Perfect Year, which is a great little tool to help you achieve success now and in the New Year.