Last week we began a discussion on the topic of habits. We briefly discussed how our habits result from our repeated actions and that our actions stem from what we believe to be true. We also touched briefly on the difficulties in changing habits.
Results in our lives come from those very things that we do over and over and most of us have, at some point attempted to change one or more of those habits, often without success.
I believe the reason why we experience such difficulty in changing habits is because our focus, concentration and efforts are all directed at those habits – the very behaviors we wish to change – and our method of bringing about change is through dogged determination or what we euphemistically call “will power.”
In doing this we are directing our efforts and energies in the wrong place.
Yes, in trying to change habits we are trying to bring about new repeated behaviors, but if the formation of habits truly follows the formula we previously discussed
Beliefs Choices Habits
then we are pointing our efforts to the wrong end of the formula.
If the first step in the formation of a habit lies with what we believe to be true, then it stands to reason that until we change that belief, we will struggle mightily to change the habit.
Perhaps this explains why we so commonly enjoy short-term success in our behaviour-changing endeavors only to return to our old behaviors very quickly.
Which begs the question: how does one go about changing a belief?
I’m convinced the answer lies in what we repeatedly tell ourselves. How many times have we committed to quit smoking with the full knowledge (belief) that it would be a difficult undertaking only to find ourselves lighting up after a few days? Several cycles of this behavior can easily begin the process of us telling ourselves that the goal in mind is unattainable, impossible.
How often have we dropped those unwanted 20 pounds only to revert back to our old eating habits and gain back 25 pounds.
What changes during the period of weight loss and the period of weight gain is not only the food we feed ourselves but more importantly the stories (beliefs) we tell ourselves.
And the moment the story changes, our choices change and when we make different choices, we take different actions.
If we are serious about changing your habits we must first begin by examining what we believe to be true – the story we are presently telling ourselves.
And to do this we need to create a new story – the one we want to believe to be true – even if at the point of inception we don’t believe a word of it.
And then we need to tell ourselves that story over and over again, with as much conviction and passion as we can muster.
And we must be consistent in the telling of that story. We must tell that story when we feel it to be true and we must tell that story when we don’t. We must tell that story when it is an easy story to listen to and we must tell that story when every word feels like a monumental lie. We must tell that story when it is fun to tell and we must tell that story when it isn’t.
And slowly over a period of time that story will come to represent our truth. And we will notice that we are doing different things effortlessly. And we’re doing them repeatedly and sooner or later we have created a new habit which will stay with us for as long as the story does.
And we must be vigilant for if we stop telling the new story, the old story may show up and we all know that absolutely no good can come of that.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.
My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.
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