Why is it so Hard to Establish a New Habit?

As we work on our human revolution, that transformation from the lesser to the greater self, we are going to have to give up habits of thinking and acting that don’t serve us and adopt new ones which serve us better.

How Do We Build a New Habit?

We start by making a decision to change something with our conscious mind.

 

The  part of us that is going maintain and act on the change is our subconscious mind. that subconscious part of us is entrusted with all of the things that maintain our lives.  It keeps our heartbeat regular, digests our food, and keeps all of our vital processes functioning to maintain life.  For this reason the subconscious mind does not change quickly.

 

Think about how you learned to drive a car. Initially you had to consciously make a decision to practice braking and accelerating as you learned to drive. You might have been overwhelmed by all the things you had to remember at once. You motivated yourself by looking at the freedom you would gain, the fact you would be a part of the grown-up world, etc. Yet after you practiced driving for a while, the actions became automatic and your unconscious reflexes put on the brake or the accelerator at just the right time.  You had become a driver. By setting the goal and following through, you grew into a new identity.

The Steps:

  • You made the decision
  • You practiced taking small actions to build the new habits,
  • Your subconscious mind adopted the new behaviors
  • Once that happens you are supported in the new habit. the subconscious handles things automatically.
  • You built a new identity, a driver.

Make a Decision: What do You Want to Achieve?

Let’s say you don’t believe you can achieve the goal you’ve set and you want to be able to pull yourself out of that mindset.

First, create a conscious vision of what you want to achieve. Why do you want to achieve it? Your why’s are your strong reasons for doing it, your motivators. Your motivators could be the opportunity, on the positive side, or the consequences if you don’t do it on the negative side.

Make the decision you are going to do it no matter what. Then chant to be willing to make the necessary changes.

Accept the Fact of Resistance

We all have resistance to change. When we learn to recognize it and embrace it as part of the process, then it becomes easier to persist. Change doesn’t happen overnight so we can’t expect habit change to take place in a couple of days. You have to plan on being persistent with the new behavior for a couple of months.

Change isn’t comfortable in the initial stages, so you must be willing to step out of your comfort zone for a while until the new behavior becomes habitual. We all revert to old thinking or behavioral habits and have to work to change them.

Having this goal of changing a negative mindset. I don’t really believe this goal is possible. I want to change this way of thinking. I know I’m being negative and I know being negative has not created good results in my life. I don’t want to continue to create negative results in my life. I want to focus on the solution. But, I find myself falling into looking at the problem over and over. See my post, Do You Know why Your thoughts Are so Important? http://wp.me/p3V1J9-PB) to discover why developing a positive mindset is important.

This is the time the rubber meets the road. Do you quit, drop the goal and move to something else? Or, do you stick with it and practice pulling your thinking out of looking at the problems to refocus on the positive end goal? If you decide to practice, you have engaged in the process of building a new positive habit – focusing on what you want.

You don’t have to completely believe you will achieve the goal. Treat it as an experiment and see what happens. That way you will keep your mind positive, engaged in the process of building a new positive habit – focusing on what you want.

One Small Step a Day

Consciously take a small action to build the new habit. When you become aware you are falling into negative thinking, refocus your mind on your end goal – the solution to the problem. You may have to take that small action over and over during the day. When you take a small action, for example , turning your attention to what you want, your mind lowers its resistance.  It may take a month or two of being persistent in pulling your mind out of negativity. But one day you will find yourself doing it automatically. At that point you will have established a new habit and will easily focus on the positive goal.

“I like change, but only a little bit at a time.”

Whether you can believe you can achieve a goal or not, stick with it until you get what you want. Seeing the way events work themselves out, ends up building the belief that anything is possible.

A Personal Experience: A Physical change

Let’s say it’s a physical change you want to make. Lifelong I have had a tendency towards a rounded back. Slumping while sitting is a physical habit. As I got older my back rounded more as I worked at computers and desks. I decided one day I didn’t want to be facing the floor when I was 90.

I chanted about the issue. an idea came to go to a physical therapist. I went and she she introduced me to the foam roller. I lie on it on my back length wise and use weights to open my chest. When I started a year ago, due to the rounding, there was a three inch space between my head and the foam roller. I committed myself to doing the exercises 3-4 times a week. Getting off the roller was actually painful.

Over the months I noticed my back seemed to be loosening and then one day I was able to brush the roller with my head. Over the next couple of months my back continued to relax until I was able to lay my head flat on the roller. It took a year, but by doing just a little 4 times a week, I was able to transform the trajectory of my back. It was a huge victory. People started commenting that they couldn’t see the hump I had had. I won’t be facing the floor when I’m ninety. I didn’t think that kind of change was possible. One small action at a time.

Find a Role Model, a Mentor

If you’re unsure about what is needed, find a role model, someone who embodies what you want to do. You can talk to them to find out how they did it or you might read something they’ve written that shows you how they think. This is when having a mentor is so useful.

When chanting for a goal that is a stretch, it is helpful to read Daisaku Ikeda’s writings. He demonstrates how to reach for a huge goal in The Human Revolution, and talks about the importance of staying positive in Faith Into Action. Then in the Daily Encouragement, he encourages you to persist with your dreams and not let anyone talk you out of them.

Summary:

1. Create a vision of what you want.
2. Make a decision you are going to do this no matter what.

3. Chant for your goal.
4. Accept the fact of resistance.
5. Take one small step a day to practice the new way of thinking, or to make a small behavioral change.
6. Find a role model
7. Never give up.

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