Posted by: GPK | 19.March.2010

Make that old habit your b*%#h…

I know it’s crude.  I hear people say it all the time and frankly, it’s funny as hell.  I know that you know I mean no disrespect by it.  The point is that habits govern EVERYTHING we do.  A habit is nothing more than a fixed and complex pattern of neuro-chemical responses established over time.  Can we change them?  Once we become aware of them, yes!

The challenge of changing a habit relative to our activity – for instance – for going running in the morning, comes from having done something else for years and years.  The only way to get rid of an old habit – going straight to work without working out or meditating first – is to replace it with a new one.  The old one took time to fix in our neuro-nets (chains of nerves that are “used to” firing together) so the new ones will take time too!

The key is to stick with it until the new sequences of reponses become fixed.  All the while fighting the urges created by the old pathways aching to be used.  Those old pathways twitching for some attention is what causes anxiety and figitiness (is this a word?).  Don’t worry.  It will go away as the new neuro pathway becomes comfortable for you.

So, three things to do to make that unproductive habit your former habit.

1) Recognize and proclaim your “WHY”…Why is the old habit evil and why is the new habit righteous.  Old habit – eating too much and exercising too little.  New habit – eating in a balanced, nutritious way and staying active everyday.

2) Do SOMETHING relative to your new habit EVERYDAY.  If you want to eat better, be sure to start by eating a better breakfast everyday for starters.  If you can change more, change more.  Just don’t expect to change everything, all day long, day in and day out without hitting some bumps along the way.

3) Do something to reward yourself for sticking with it.  The reward certainly will be intrinsic (you’ll FEEL better just for doing it) but it’s important to offer yourself an extrinsic reward too (prize).  Think about how you’d get a child to get in the habit of making his/her bed everyday.  You’d explain why.  You’d encourage him/her to do it.  You’d keep track of it on a chart in the kitchen.  You’d offer a reward for compliance/accomlishment.  Guess what?  Your neuro-nets are perpetual kids!  Treat them that way.

What are your old habits?  What are your new ones?

Engage, think, share!


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