Change is hard. It is supposed to be hard. This is how our brain is wired. And our brain`s main responsibility is to keep us safe. From an evolutionary point of view (1), change equals danger; danger equals lack of safety; lack of safety equals predators; predators equal potential death. No wonder lasting change is trickier than it seems.
I hope this is an AHA moment for you: our brain doesn’t differentiate between actual and fictional danger. For the critter brain, every time when you try to make a change (despite your positive intention behind it!), your innocent attempt triggers a fight or flight reaction. Why? Because your brain cares for you and wants you to be safe. Once you understand that your body`s only goal is to keep you alive, you begin to shift your mindset from reactivity to positivity. To make any change STICK, you have to win your brain over first. And do it in a way that makes both you and your brain FEEl good.
So, instead of beating yourself for not sticking to your new year`s resolutions or your last week`decision to adopt a healthier diet, exercise more, stress less/etc., understand that it literally takes time for the body to drop its defenses and become an ally to your goals, and not a foe.
- In order to shift gears towards your goal, you have to act as the architect of your most ideal future and not a slave of your behavioral patterns.
- To receive a level of self-actualization (your innate ability and right to reach your highest creativity potential), you have to first strip the layers of cognitive baggage piled in your subconscious mind.
- In order to shift from the role of spectator (ofWhat happens To you) to a creator (of a Life that happens FOR you), you must stop sabotaging yourself with negative self-talk and victimization. This is KEY!
These are my three fundamental strategies for creating long-lasting change instead of temporary breakthroughs:
I HAVE AN INTENTION
Decide what you want; then break it down to an attainable goal.
I recommend you to breakdown your goals into a longterm goal and short-term goals. Be realistic what you can and can`t achieve in a six or three months frame, and focus on the progress you make, and not on the areas you`re still working on. The bigger the change you want to make is, the smaller the daily changes should be. You can`t possibly outdo years of behavioral patterns in one month regardless of your discipline and motivation. The body has to trust you first and welcome the change, instead of fighting you on it.
“Neurons that fire together wire together.”– Donald Hebb, a Canadian neuropsychologist known for his work in the field of associative learning.
II PAY ATTENTION
Stepping back and identifying what your self-defeating habits are is one of the first steps of the change process.
Be curious to monitor your actions (without judgment!): are they moving you towards your goal, or do they pull you away from it? Most importantly, monitor your self-talk: how many times in a day do you speak kindly to yourself as opposed to the times you lash out and say things you would never tell your best friend? (more about building unstoppable confidence you may read here). Be adaptive to change and the breaking of old habits. Often, it has taken you a lifetime to build them, so it takes time and patience to reformulate your routine around them. Habits are literally wired in your brain. And I will repeat this again, because it is so important:any lasting change begins in your mind first before it gets translated to your behavior and habits.
As Goethe wisely pointed out: “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”
III ALWAYS BELIEVE
Stay optimistically realistic. Momentary set-backs are inevitable. Giving up is optional.
Believing in your deservedness of happiness, confidence and self-love is the only way to preserve your enthusiasm to keep going when you stumble through obstacles. They’re there to test your will. And expose you to your fears so you can dissolve them and move forward. Face them, love them, and keep going. At its core, change is a continual process of letting go. This step is all about giving you a way to release old beliefs and create new ones. When you change a habit, you CHANGE a part of how you act, and when you change how you re-act, you start to change who you are in a triggering circumstance… when you begin to change who you are (when you don`t like yourself), you start to fall in love with your-true-self and your life.
In conclusion, please remember that habits are AUTOMATED behaviors and, as such, they are prone to change.. While some habits are health-promoting, others are health-destroying. And here we talk not just about physical health but about your mental and emotional health as well.
To make any change last, you need to feel good about it in your heart first.
I really hope this article was not only informative but also inspired you to take action. Please forward and share with anyone in your social circles that can also benefit from implementing these strategies.
~ With Love and Care,
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(1) I dearly recommend you to read Dr. Rich Hanson`s books: Resilient and Hardwiring Happiness. I mention his work in this article as well.