Already in early childhood under the influence of family environment we form certain habits — food, hygiene and movement related, and then we create new ones on our own. Our habits are very distinct and present everywhere in daily life, in our emotional reactions, as well as in our thinking. Often we react in the same way we have been taught or we react based on the environments that are familiar to us and this is how we form our patterns of behavior.
Habits make our lives orderly, organized and easy. They create a feeling of comfort, security and convenience and help us do things faster and with less effort. If we form healthy and constructive habits, they will assist us in achieving our goals and will become a mechanism working for us.
Yet what happens when we create the so-called bad habits — like overeating, smoking, drinking addictions, etc.? Turned into patterns of behavior these bad habits become barriers hindering and limiting our development by self-destructing and life-threatening us.
The habit is a behavior that is regularly performed in response to a stimulus. The habit is hard to break, as is done automatically, with little or no conscious control. Due to the creation of our neural pathways in the absorption of behavior habitually used, the occurrence of certain stimuli of our brain starts automatically as a program for routine behavior.
Neural pathways are like highways of nerve cells that transmit messages. Traveling on these highways many times, the roads become more familiar. Whether you gather with friends every Friday at a particular restaurant, or you buy a particular brand of an item every day, or you watch TV with a drink in your hand again and again, this way you create routines and forms of neural pathways. To me, this is actually encouraging because the brain can be constantly changing and we can create new habits by building new neural pathways. All this is thanks to the neuroplasticity in the brain.
If, for example, you have an unhealthy habit of overeating at night, and you want to create a healthier way of eating, it will take you some time to unlearn the habit already formed by creating new neural pathway and absorbing new healthy behavior. If you are persistent enough along with the power of your will, you will be able to reprogram your brain. You can eliminate behavior or thought dependencies directly from the brain.
For instance, smokers and people addicted to alcohol, and many others can learn new behaviors and attitudes and transform their lives in their desired light and new behavior.
Whether you work towards correcting the habits of others or to your own habits and stereotypes (or both), you can apply the insights below for achieving the desired success.
Here are some useful guidelines that will help this transformation:
1. Identification of the habit you would like to change and the formation of the new intent.
We cannot remove the weakness, which we do not know about. The first step to eliminate a bad habit is to realize what that bad habit is and bringing it to light. After deciding which habit we want to abandon and transform, you need to form a firm commitment to change. If there is a strong will and desire to change, the creation of new pathways in our brains is a matter of time and effort.
2. Carefully evaluating what is causing old habits in your life.
How does your body respond to that habit? What thoughts and feelings come to you and do you realize the consequences of them?
3. Changing your focus.
This is very important. To create a new habit and abandon an old one, you need to change your focus and direct it to a more useful and healthy things, which will replace the time given to the unhealthy habits and addictions. So after some time, they will fail. Avoiding risky places and circumstances that contribute to maintaining these bad habits would be a good strategy. For instance, if you’re addicted to sweets, is it necessary to keep baking cookies or going to the bakery? Focusing your mind on tasty and healthy foods will keep your body healthy and vigorous.
4. Using your imagination.
We create habits not only with new patterns of behavior, but also through our imagination. If our imagination keeps in mind our new changes again and again, and its benefits, we are already working on its formation.
5. Eliminating the old model of thinking, even with its occurrence.
To fight something that has “possessed” us would be far more difficult. An emphatic “no” when the old thought or impulse finds us again would help lead us in the right direction.
6. Creating a list of risky situations, places and conditions that contribute to maintaining the established habits of which we desire to be free.
Important in terms of our future strategy is to be aware of all risks, factors and conditions that contribute to maintaining habits and dependencies from which we want to give up. When these impulses occur, in what volume and circumstances do they happen, what is our emotional state at such times?
As we are aware of the supporting factors, the more effective we will become at our strategy for their elimination.
7. Creating a strategy of what to do when it gets harder before it gets hard.
When we have previously developed a clear strategy for dealing with such impulse it will be much easier to resist and maintain new behaviors. To seek spontaneous decisions or to rely solely on its determination will make things far more difficult. Knowing the risks, best strategies, and specific steps to replace the already established habits with new activities and activities together with our determination and willpower, will make us successful at our changes. This will be the creation of new affirmations to enhance and maintain our choices. It can be as simple as “I am free” or “I am in control,” will keep us focused on the new direction.
8. Transformation of obstacles.
What if we were to examine what would be the secondary benefits of eliminating unhealthy habits and behaviors? The key to creating a sustainable internal environment, conducive behavior of addiction, is the presence of “inevitable stress,” oppressed feeling, that nothing depends on us and nothing can be done to reduce our anxiety and frustration.
What if we were to take a look at stress in our life and how we can deal with it more effectively and making it work in our favor rather than against us? What are the possibilities and alternatives here? To use our own potential to build new sustainable habits, to avoid and overcome anxiety in our daily lives is the best strategy. So we will use our own resources and will transform the negative into positive, which will not only reduce stress and tension but will help us gain sustainable skills to deal with these stressors in the future and in finding positive and constructive energy. And this way we would be creating a healthy mind in a healthy body.
9. Connecting with our inner source of inspiration and support.
We have the power to deal with our own selves and find the support within ourselves. Many studies of brain activity reveal the positive effects of building new habits and neutral circuits in our brain. The nature of life is constant change. If we do the same thing every day, we will never be able to achieve new results. If we want to be healthier, happier and more complete, we need to become better planners of programming changes and creating new perspectives for ourselves. When we do so, our possibilities are endless.
Enjoyed reading? Please share. We are in this world to help one another. All of us grow faster when we support each other. I encourage others to add value to the world, so we can make compounding ripples of improvement for everyone.
About The Author
Dr. Mila is an internationally known Change Catalyst. She teaches individuals and organizations about awareness, connection, and the need for change – personally, socially, and professionally.