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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.