Breaking Bad Habits
What is a habit? The basic definition is that it's a more or less fixed way of thinking, willing or feeling, acquired through the repetition of a mental experience, that becomes imprinted in your neural pathway. Every habit forms a mental loop, that includes a cue, a routine and a reward.
Cue, Routine, Reward
Take sucking your thumb for instance. The cue is when the child feels threatened or afraid or unsure of himself. The routine is putting the thumb in your mouth and sucking it. The reward is an immediate feeling of comfort.
We Naturally Form Habits
As human, we are naturally drawn to habitual patterns, because repetition creates familiarity and comfort. Habitual behaviors often go unnoticed in the person exhibiting it, because a person does not need to engage in self-analysis when undertaking a routine task. Habit is often compulsory.
Breaking Bad Habits
Breaking bad habits is changing the wiring in the brain. A key to changing a habit is to identify your cue and modify your routine and reward. People succeed when they recognize that the habit interferes with something they value, and they develop the confidence that they can change.
My First Bad Habit
As I look back on some habits I have formed and broken, this becomes clear. Let's start with the first bad habit. Thumb sucking, the cue any sign of stress, the routine, thumb in mouth, the reward, an unconscious return to the breast, immediate comfort. The habit is broken, after five years, when the desire to be a big boy is formed.
Nail biting, a modified routine to thumb sucking. The cue, stressed, the routine, start biting nails, the reward, an immediate feeling of control. The habit is broken, after ten years, because of vanity, embarrassed to show my nails to anyone, a sign of weakness.
Smoking cigarettes, the cue, stressed, the routine, lighting a cigarette and inhaling into your lungs, the reward, a feeling of comfort, a shot of the stimulant nicotine, plus it was vanity for the self-image, It seemed an adult way to take a step back and pause. The habit is broken after twenty years, because of fear to my health, vanity.
Drinking alcohol. The cue, stress, the routine, drink until drunk. The reward, forgetfulness. The habit is broken after twenty years when the pain of drunkenness, outweighs the pleasure of forgetfulness.
Marijuana, the cue stress, the routine relax and smoke a joint, the reward forgetfulness. The habit is broken after thirty years, when being high starts to interfere with ambition and drive.
The Worst Habit
All these habits, I have both developed and broke, over my lifetime, have shown me that I have the strength, the willpower, to recognize and change the wiring in my brain. That is until running headlong, into the habit to end all habits. The most formidable, evil, corrosive habit of all, the habit of negative self talk. www.my.wealthyaffiliate.com/dbcrist/blog/dont-be-a-puppet
This negative way of thinking, about myself, (my script) was formed very early in life, and repeated endlessly, every day for years and years, it has created a well traveled neural pathway. This "script" is replayed, instantaneously, unconsciously, over and over throughout the day and is so automatic, that it can be activated, by the most innocent comment or even an image.
Your Script Becomes Your Life
This habitual way of thinking, this script, has developed so many triggers, that it springs to mind with almost no provocation. As I discussed in my previous blog, http://smarterfittness.com/maxwell-maltz-and-self-image The things that we fixedly believe about ourselves are always negative and we don't even realize we are playing them in our mind, they have become so insidious, that we can't separate them from reality, in fact what Maltz and many other deep thinkers have come to believe, is that we create our environment, our reality, based on these false narratives.
We Limit Ourselves
It's only through research, quieting the mind, and being aware, that we begin to see that we are the only ones limiting ourselves, from achieving everything we want in life. We become aware of these dis-empowering beliefs, (by listening to our own self talk) and start to realize that our minds, are filtering our life experiences to support these false beliefs.
The Habitual Mind
Mel Robbins, talks about our mind and how our Reticular Activating System is constantly searching for evidence to support our beliefs. That we all have a confirmation bias, in that we all love to read and watch (as in TV), things we agree with. That our minds are designed and motivated to do only things it considers easy and stops us from hurting ourselves, it's not designed to do things that are scary or uncomfortable. It becomes comfortable to think little about ourselves.
It's A Decision
When we listen to our negative self talk we stop ourselves. We are all only one decision away from a totally different life. Our life comes down to decisions, make a decision to change your self talk, and you can change your life.
Ms. Robbins has developed "The 5-Second Rule", it's a ritual that forces our mind into medicognition. Anytime a negative thought comes up, stop and count back from 5,4,3,2,1 and replace the negative thought with an empowering thougth.
Change Your Beliefs Change Your Life
Through awareness I'm forcing myself to do this, I'm slowly rewiring the neural pathways in my mind. Replace your false narratives with empowering ones, consistently for 21 days, and watch your life change. This has been by far, the hardest habit for me to break.
As always, thanks for visiting, Dave