We all know better what we should be doing, but the moment we are faced with a challenge, we fall prey to the temptation of the instant gratification monster.
We have an aha moment or decide on a goal, get all determined about it, even make the action plans. We buy everything we need, get all ready to conquer our vice, and by the end of the first week already sabotaged ourselves and fell back into the reactive pattern of getting comfort through the negative behavior. Why so many of us consistently do that? Well because behavioral change is not just a conversation you should have with your therapist and wait for things to change overnight. Behavioral change has to be an experiential process where you start training your body, mind and emotions to support your new lifestyle. Your body, mind and emotions follow patterns and that momentum has to be broken down consciously and strategically in order for the change to be a lasting one.
In order to create behavioral change you need to work with and understand your physiology, mental and emotional patterns.
There are 3 levels of understanding we go through when we are changing our habits:
1) Conceptual understanding- this is the stage where you become aware of a behavior you want to acquire or a behavior you want to get rid off. This is the first step in making a change, self-awareness of who you truly are or want to be. Without an awareness of behavioral habits you want to acquire or get rid off, you will not even know what is damaging your life, forget about the next steps to take.
2) Emotional understanding- every habit or behavior you have is triggered by an emotional state that is making you get into the debilitating routine around your habit. Here you gain emotional intelligence and you start using your emotions in constructive ways. Your thoughts are aligned with what you want and your emotions are following giving you the resources you need in order to devise your strategies. What emotion is triggering you most of the times when you indulge in the unwanted habit? What needs do you think you are actually trying to meet while that negative habit is giving you the illusion of meeting it? For most people it is self pity, anger, fear, sadness)- what is it for you? Most believe anger is a very bad emotion but in reality anger helps a lot of people get focused and take action. It is a much more empowering emotion than sadness or self pity for example which usually drive people to suicidal thoughts and feelings of helplessness. In order to achieve any goal and be happy you need emotional fitness. People form addictions because they are trying to numb the pain they have in their life, they are trying to eat, smoke, drink, etc away their problems.
3) Behavioral understanding- where you not only know and feel you want to change, but now your actions are aligned with the outcomes you seek. As my mentor Antony Robbins says “Repetition is the mother of skills”. The first 2 steps are important but this one is crucial. This is where all resolutions are broken. If you don’t do what you know you should do, you cannot get where you want to get. You eradicate a bad habit by installing a good one to replace it. You cannot stop feeling self pity all at once if that is the emotion driving your physiology. But the moment you feel it coming, you can shift to relaxation routines, to calming thoughts that will generate emotions to keep you away from that toxic emotion that makes you do toxic things like reaching for that fridge, cigarette, glass or phone call.
Start taking action because nothing can happen without it. When an idea comes and feels really good, follow it and put it in practice right away. Even if it’s harder to shift ways of behavior or habits in the beginning, once you have done something consistently at least for 3 days, you have build enough momentum to stay on the right track. After 30 days of doing something consistently it will become natural and a habit for you.
When we have emotional fitness we are in a proactive state of mind where we are focused on creating the lives we want, we take responsibility and accountability for our actions and results. We are centered, clear and positive about our lives and ourselves. Negative habits plague our life whenever we have a problem we do not know how to solve and we go in crisis mode developing other short term ways or habits to satisfy our needs. When that happens we are in a reactive mode and we feel overwhelmed, confused, blame others or ourselves for limitations and failures.
Getting our neurology to change can be a fast process if besides the right resources( a coach, books, equipment etc) you have the most important resource-your desire to change.
Don’t you think whatever you have been desiring to change or bring in your life deserves a little bit of effort on your part? Make it happen! Now!