“So, why is change hard?” Are we really creatures of habit? The short answer is yes. Can we change that? Again, the answer is yes.
Think of it this way- habits are things we’ve learned to do. We aren’t born hard wired to do them. Still, they power up very specific parts of our brains, really fast.
But one part of the brain this powering up misses is pre-frontal cortex. It’s what I call the “what if” part of the brain. It’s where our most creative and innovative thinking happens, but when we act out of habit, the information never makes it there.
We wind up doing what we’ve always done. We’re on automatic and miss what’s possible. We don’t even imagine it.
Why does that even happen? Because our habitual responses, for better or worse, become hardwired. Every time we repeat a habit, we ramp up its power and over time, it generates its own biological back up. But we can change that.
Just by pausing and being aware, just by being mindful, we can create a “free will/ free won’t” rest stop to consciously move that information onto a new path, and create a habit that we actually want. We can counter the power of our habits with some power of our own.
One of the most recent books on this is Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit”. I read it between Christmas and New Years (just in time for resolutions).
It explains the mechanics about how habits get formed and what we can do about changing them. One of the suggestions I found the most helpful was creating a new cue – making a kind of mini ritual around it.
Another resource I’ve used is Kelly McGonigal’s book, ‘The Willpower Instinct”. Her lens is more psycho-social. She also has a talk on it on You Tube. The two work really well together.
Using them is helping me make some long overdue changes. I still have to catch myself, but not as often. This February, change isn’t near so hard as it was in January.
The thought and behavior habits we have are part of my “Soul Esteem and Identity” and “Spirit, Science and Success” workshops. To learn more about them and book one, click on the Workshops and Talks tab at the top of the page.