The one action you might be missing when trying to end a habit.

The one action you might be missing when trying to end a habit.

Last week I told you I would be discussing habits – and if you didn’t complete that 3-question survey – please do so now at the bottom of this email. It’s three seconds of your time! Come on…help your fellow readers see where they are at in comparison to you.

But before we do, let’s talk about why you are not creating or able to end that habit (thought or behavior). By the way, it has nothing to do with will power.

 

The Problem

In order for conscious thought to start having any power over unconscious thought, you need to

A: Be aware you are behaving this way.

B. Create space between action (behaviour) and unconscious (thought).

If you can’t seem to begin a new habit or end an old habit, you don’t yet have that awareness.

The anatomy of a habit.

Quite simply, every time you give in to a habit you go through a mini fight or flight episode. Your conscious mind is saying NO. And when you give in, you are expending the least amount of energy, by taking the path of least resistance. It is effortless. Lovely at the time, until the conscious mind catches up and scolds you for doing so. A lot of negative self-talk can happen at this point.

But what if I told you that the endorphins or ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters that flood the dopamine centres of the brain have as much to do with ‘giving-in’ (ending the fight or flight in the body) as it does with the actual ‘physical reward’. In other words, by moving from the sympathetic state (fight or flight) to parasympathetic state (rest and digest) you are unwinding, surrendering, relaxing and breathing. And it is that feeling you are addicted to – not the so-called ‘reward’.

Action

So in order to stop the habit, you must FIRST create that space for the conscious mind and unconscious mind to work together at this effort.

Method

BREATHE first and allow the space and awareness to appear, thus opening the channels of the neural and biochemical pathways to send information throughout the body. Otherwise, it is very difficult for the conscious mind to bio-hack the primal lower brain.

One of the problems is that the lower primal brain is also where the emotional energy is centered. And – yes, emotional energy always wins over left brain logic, unless you can create that space.

Analogy

If you do not want to eat the cake, open the bag of chips, take a drag or pour the second glass of wine, then follow this sequence:

Stop and breathe.

Create space through the breath in order to reach both unconscious and conscious awareness – and ask yourself, “Is this __________ going to bring me closer to my sense of self, my purpose and how I am choosing to show up in life? Does this align with my sense of self? OR might it be the action (behaviour) that feels normal, habitual, simple, easy and effortless that seems to bring me into relaxation in the moment?

With the small action of saying NO you are re-aligning with your identity, reaching your true self and re-uniting in how you want to show up in life. Each time you say NO, you are creating a new neuronal pathway, opening up channels and allowing the energy/information to pass through you and release tension. You have moved from the fight or flight stage to rest and digest.

Practice this throughout the week – just Breathe – and I will meet you here next week to continue the discussion of how we need to re-visit our sense of self and why this is so important.

Reflection sprinkled with a dash of hope

Reflection sprinkled with a dash of hope

Okay, I must apologize right now because you might have expected me to talk about habits in this post, and I did in fact have it all ready, but felt it was more pertinent to make this post today instead.

There are a few reasons, but I think we can all agree that we are feeling a tiny bit better about the current situation we are in? So that is my point of stating Hope in the title.

The Reflection piece comes in because I happened to look at my post entitled New Year = New You back in January.  In this post I start off by saying, “There are so many things that I am excited for in 2020. I have never felt so excited in my life about the decade ahead, and I want you to feel this same excitement with me”.

“There are so many things that I am excited for in 2020. I have never felt so excited in my life about the decade ahead, and I want you to feel this same excitement with me”.

via @luellajonk

 

Now your initial response might be “Ha! Look at where that got you Luella.”

Fact is, it wasn’t just me that stated these words, I heard many around me say the same, and it was contagious. So, are we all a bunch of optimists with our heads in the sand? I argue and will continue to argue differently. Why ? Because both you and I know the power of thought.

I now encourage you to read on because below is a response that I wrote to one of my readers who did respond to the previous Happy New Year post. He challenged my thoughts and so the discussion unfolded.

I am sharing this because we are constantly challenged in our lives and it takes a lot of mental effort in those moments to align ourselves with what is most important to us.

Whenever you want to change a negative belief, it’s vital you replace it with something more aligned with the life you want, and stay connected to why it’s important.

And with that, you will see how the above statement is going to be a continuation of next week and further posts about changing the negative beliefs we experience at times of stress, which is the foundation of any habit change or addictive behaviour.

 

Blog Readers: When reading the following – the black and bold font is from the original post, the amethyst font is my client’s response to the post, and the italicized font is My response to His response. Enjoy the discussion.

 

The peace of this moment is all we can ask for right now.

“Not true.  In fact totally unbelievable.  For example, why can’t we ask for our mother to be cured of cancer?”

We can ask… but whom are we asking? The Universe? God? Buddha? Sure… but we can’t make our happiness in the moment about whether or not our mom will survive cancer. We have no control over this – now your head is living in the future. You are happy right now in the moment. Why bombard that with worry about something you honestly cannot control? You are likely creating a story in your head at that moment that is not centered on a promising upcoming experience.

Happiness is you right now, in this present moment. You are absolutely perfect just the way you are.

“Incredibly untrue. We are none of us perfect now or ever. What we can be is satisfied with what we are.”

What is perfection then? The idea of perfection is different for everyone. This is because our ideas/thoughts are based on experiences. If you do not think you are perfect just as you are right now, then it is likely based on past experiences, social media, or society. You actually are perfect.  

Once you welcome and accept this into your heart and soul, everything you desire will fall into your lap.

“Untrue in every way possible or we would all be married to movie stars living in Malibu.”

Really? And you think that will bring you happiness? Jim Carrey once said ” I wish everyone could get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it is not the answer”. It was just in 2018 that we lost Kate Spade and Michael Bourdain, and Robin Williams in 2014.

It is not when I have [———] I will be happy. It is when I am happy I will have [———].

“Sophistry.”

The only way I can answer that is to say that ’that is your perspective’, and it is a sad one. Happiness is not as much as a feeling or thought as it is an energy, emotion, or intention. It is when you have a sense of abundance no matter what you have or who you are with. I see it as simply existing in nature. Such as a squirrel, bird or an apple tree. The apple tree is abundant. It doesn’t always have apples, some seasons more than others, but it keeps producing, it doesn’t hoard its apples as it might be ‘worried or anxious’. It is simply moving through the seasons of life. It is perfect in every way, at every moment. If it begins to lack life, then it may be time to return back to its roots. When you are in a flow or a state of hormesis, your energy is positive. 

For example, it is not when I ‘lose more weight, get the promotion’ I will ‘be healthy, feel satisfied, get the man of my dreams’… It is when I am healthy, accept myself as I am right now… ‘I will lose weight, etc. etc.’ 

“Absurd.”

How is this absurd? If you follow a lifestyle prescription (which is what I strive to prescribe to my clients), then it will occur. How can you argue the fact that if one eats healthfully, manages stress with the right coping mechanisms, adding movement in their life, making sleep a priority, and tending their relationships with true connection, good things will not come out of this? I beg to differ. It is what I described earlier. When you are in a flow, you gain abundance in multiple aspects in life. 

As a society, we have it all backwards! You feed yourself and your soul first, and everything else you desire will come to you.

“A pessimist is an optimist with experience.” 

My response to this is that when we begin to realize that our thoughts are simply based on past experiences, then the pessimist has experienced situations that allowed him/her to start creating a thought pattern or story in their head, that has become redundant and repetitive, so much that they have convinced themselves that it is the truth, fact or certainty. Example, for me, waiting in a lineup at Safeway brings me a lot of frustration, anger and bitterness towards shoppers ahead of me who I have now convinced myself purposely chose items that do not have a price tag on – and now we have a ‘price check’. For another person – waiting in line at Safeway is normal, expected, and also might give them a chance to catch up on the latest celebrity news in People magazine. Our thought pattern and behaviour of this situation is much different.

That concludes the discussion. I hope you enjoyed reading the different interpretations of life. To me, life is a blank canvas or sheet of paper open in front of us, and the rest is Unwritten.