Making and Breaking Habits: The Power of Practice

​Sometimes wisdom provides great advice of how to behave or think and our soul softens at the possibility of its truth. Despite our best intentions, there can be a wide gap between our current reality and the rose tinted one we strive towards. How do we get to the place where this wisdom becomes our experienced truth? In short, it is practice, patience and commitment to the journey.

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Oct 25, 2015
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Sometimes wisdom provides great advice of how to behave or think and our soul softens at the possibility of its truth. Despite our best intentions, there can be a wide gap between our current reality and the rose tinted one we strive towards. How do we get to the place where this wisdom becomes our experienced truth? In short, it is practice, patience and commitment to the journey.

Habits are actions and thoughts and have been so well practiced over the years that they become routine.

Habits can form with or without conscious effort. However, we are interested in looking at the habits we can intentionally design.

We have the magical capability to consciously and deliberately learn desired behaviors or thoughts. We then gift them to our unconscious through a process of repetition and time. This turns them into an automated system, so deeply internalized that it requires little or no thought for them to be carried out. It is not always easy, but it is possible.

Before we create a new habit, think about something you really want changed. This could be moving away from an old behavior or moving towards a new one. This craving of really wanting something can become the engine behind our behavior, sometimes even a rocket ship.

[One tip here, is it is usually more sustainable to move towards something than away from something as the former can feel like a gain and the latter a loss, even if you are moving away from something you find undesirable. Sometimes the first step can be moving away from certain thoughts or behaviors, but once that is achieved, find something you want to move towards.]

One you have identified what it is you want, evaluate the options available you have to get there. Create a reward for yourself for when you do. This should be an immediate reward, not a delayed one. This is because the brain needs a signal that the behavior is worth doing and the routine is worth remembering (helping it towards automation). Finally, create a cue for yourself to signal that the habit loop is about to take place, allowing your unconscious to kick in. For example, if your new habit is going to the gym in the morning, place your gym clothes by your bed so you see them as soon as you wake up. If your new habit is being kinder to yourself, keep a journal by your bed and a pen on your pillow so at the end of the day you can write down three things that you did well that day. The reward could be a smoothie or being able to get under the covers. Allow yourself to anticipate the reward; focus on this craving when temptation tries to take you in another direction. Be creative with this stage and think about what you really want before finding the cue, routine and reward that is most authentic to you.

It is not always easy, but it is possible. These seemingly new, unfamiliar and challenging ways of behaving and thinking can, through committed practice, self-compassion and patience, become as easy and as effortless as blinking.


If you would like to read more about this, please find a link to author Charles Duhigg: "The Power of Habit" http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Power-Habit-What-Chang...

Go to the profile of Jodie Jackson

Jodie Jackson

Constructive Journalism, Positive psychology, Yoga, Meditation, Coaching

I believe that we all have an exciting potential to contribute to our own wellbeing as well as others around us. With a few simple tips and know how, we can have greater mastery over the direction of our lives and take greater pleasure in the adventure. Join me on this journey as I share with you the things that I am thinking, writing, reading and watching and welcome your thoughts too!

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