Hey, everybody! In today’s blog, we’re going to talk about creating new habits.
We’ve been talking about lots of scenarios and concepts around habits and identity.
Habits Are Everything
I want you to know that habits are everything. Everything that you do is about training yourself, and everything you do and have is because you are in the habit of doing and having it. Everything you don’t do or don’t have is because you’re in the habit of NOT doing or having it.
So basically, habits are everything when it comes to all that you achieve in your life. Essentially, habits create the results in our lives. And because everything is a habit, it’s in your best interest to be keenly aware of the principles of habit, as well as how to break the habit of being yourself and then emerge into creating new habits. It is said that 95% of everything you do is a habit.
You Are Not Your Habits
All of your habits are mainly brain-based, which means you’re not your habits. They are something we can rewire, and we can retrain ourselves to create better habits that are going to achieve better results in our lives. You can create anything you want with the right habits because you really are not your habits. Again, we can establish and create new habits.
Remember, there is the concept of reptilian brain (survival/habit brain), mammalian brain (emotional brain), and prefrontal cortex (thinking brain). Habits are survival mechanisms housed in the reptilian brain. When it comes to habits, this part of the brain thinks “If you don’t do this, then you’re going to die.” That’s why habits are hard to break, because our brains are wired to encourage us to keep doing them. All habits start with a single thought. And when you get stuck in those thoughts, then that creates that habit loop. But no one really gets stuck on a single thought unless they are choosing to continue thinking that thought. It’s the automated responses to our daily lives that create habits.
So basically, what you do every single day, even the thoughts that you have, is highly habitual in nature. This means you’re almost living your life in a trance of doing the same thing over and over, eating the same thing, thinking the same thing, feeling the same thing. Who you are today is based on your habits of the past, as well as your current habits. So, it’s in your best interest to learn better ways to manage your habits because you really are not your habits, but your habits create your life.
We Are Not Born With Our Habits
So what exactly is a habit? Habit is an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary and automated. It’s as if you don’t even need to think about doing the habit. And you’re on autopilot all day, every single day. That’s why habits are super powerful. And remember, as human beings, we’re all born without habits. We learned our habits from our surroundings and indoctrination. And as Buddha said, “first, we create our habits and then our habits create us.”
Think about your past New Year’s resolutions. How many times have you tried to change a behavior only to fail? Well, that’s because we try to approach it with willpower. We make a resolution and think we’re going to change our behavior, but I want you to remember all habits are brain-based and chemical and survival based. So just changing our behavior is not enough to create a new habit.
Willpower Vs Strategy
It’s going to take more than just sheer willpower to be able to break a habit and create new ones. You need a great strategy and understanding of the three brain levels. As I said, there’s a reptilian brain, which is fight or flight (survival) based—this is the habit brain. And then there’s the mammalian brain, which has to do with our feelings. Lastly, there’s the prefrontal cortex, which is more of the “thinking” part of your brain.
Habits Are Your Body’s Way Of Creating Efficiency
Your habits are what you’ve reinforced over and over again.
When you constantly act on a habit, you reinforce the habit and the neural wiring in your brain gets stronger and stronger, then the habit becomes super easy and automated. It becomes a natural neural pathway, which cannot be destroyed, but it can be rewired. Habits are a path of least resistance, and when you go against your habits, you don’t feel like yourself or you might experience discomfort. You’re hardwired to do the same things, day in and day out. Following through on habits essentially creates brain chemicals that are conducive to being happy. We’ve got four essential brain chemicals called dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins. This is why our brain wants us to keep following through on our habits, whether they actually serve us or not.
What I want you to remember is that when we do these habits, we tend to stay in that zone of creating homeostasis. And this takes very little energy. Our bodies are all about efficiency, they don’t really think outside of their habitual loop in the way we think, feel, and do.
You’re probably reading this because you want to change some aspect about your life. And the only way through to successfully change your habits is to change the way you think, feel, and do things.
Habits are really hard to break. So, we want to have a better strategy to break old habits and create new ones.
Dismiss, Don’t Ignore
The fundamental principle that you need to remember is that willpower does not work. If it did, you’d already be free of your bad habits that you’ve accumulated over time.
Using willpower gives the original thoughts and habits more power, because you’re trying to repress and fight against the wired habits. And this only sets you up for failure.
There are signals called “urges” that you must become familiar with. Urges are your brain’s way of keeping your habits alive. And giving into your urges only makes them stronger.
An urge is a signal from your brain to do what you’re in the habit of. So how do you “hijack” your urges?
Well, you want to hijack your urges by dismissing them, not ignoring them. This is because when you ignore the urge, it creates tension.
Ignoring the urge means you know it’s there, but you try to pretend as if it is not there. So you go back and forth between “I should” and “I shouldn’t”. Dismissing the urge, on the other hand, is completely shifting your attention elsewhere, as if the urge is not even there.
Dismissing urges makes them go away so much easier. And I want you to learn to dismiss your urges — dismiss that habit voice, and move your attention from the habit to something desirable because you are where your attention is.
Your Habits Don’t Define You
Habits are not personal, they are not about YOU. Habits are simply habits. You must recognize a habit as a habit. It’s not a reflection or a characteristic of you.
Let’s talk about the anatomy of a habit.
Habit urge is like an alarm clock. Your alarm clock does not think. It’s not intelligent. It’s just programmed to do what it needs to do. When you tell it to go off at a certain time, it’ll go off, no matter what. This is how habit urge works.
So I want you to not take it personally when you give into the habit, but make sure that you start to think about hijacking that habit in a whole different way. Urges really are not personal. They are not about you. They are the brain’s alarm clock, and just like an alarm clock can not force you out of bed, your urges cannot force you into doing a habit.
The reptilian brain sends urges, however the prefrontal cortex allows you to decide whether you will do the action or not do the action. So the urge itself can not make you do something until the prefrontal cortex decides to take action on that urge. I want you to always think about this brain alarm clock when it comes to your habits. In that way, you’re able to think about habits in a whole new, different way, and this will help you start to change your habits.
You have two voices on your shoulder: the habit voice and then the other voice, the new habit voice that you want to nurture so that you can create new habits.
It’s Not You, It’s The Voice Inside You
Most people feel powerless to stop habit voice because they don’t know it’s simply a habit voice. Remember, you’re not your thoughts. You’re the thinker of your thoughts. Similarly, you are not your habit voice.
You can simply just move your attention and dismiss the habit voice. Think about the habit voice as a con man. Habit voice will lie, scream, trick, yell, manipulate and rationalize to get you to do the old habit.
It’s going to say, “Go ahead. Just one more time. You can start tomorrow. You had a crappy day today.” When you listen to this, you give in and do the habit that you’re trying to break. Voices will say anything to close the deal. Rather than getting into a dialogue with yourself, you need to learn to dismiss that habit voice. And it’s just that easy because thoughts are fleeting. When you get used to dismissing the voice, it simply gives up because it’s fleeting and it’s temporary.
We have 60,000 thoughts in a given day. Continually doing a habit is focusing on one same thought over and over again. All behavior starts with a thought.
All our thoughts come and go. When you dismiss habit urge and shift your attention, the urge goes away because you’re no longer focusing on it.
You Are Where Your Attention Is
It’s absolutely possible to change or transform, but you need a strategy to understand exactly how your brain works in the way that it does. So I want to ask you, have you noticed that your habits are sustained by where you keep your attention?
I want you to think about your health overall, as well as your wealth. I want you to think about how thought patterns show up in regards to these two areas of your life. And then I want you to think about what you want to create in the next six months or 12 months, and what habits will create the outcomes that you want. Are the thinking patterns you have now in alignment with what you’re wanting to create? Aka, will your current thinking and behavior habits get you these results?
Eliminating Bad Habits One At A Time
The easiest way to break any habit without using willpower is really elimination. Eliminating the bad habits. And you start with one habit at a time.
Pick one habit. You want to eliminate one habit that would make a huge difference. And I want you to make a declaration about eliminating this habit because nothing will ever happen until you decide. And if you don’t want to quit that bad habit, think about the consequences of it.
I want you to have enough grace to give yourself time to change. And I want you to start to recognize your habit voice, and also understand that setbacks mean nothing. You just have to get up and keep going. And if you slip up one day, then go back to changing that habit again and again and again, and commit.
Remember, you can easily dismiss the habit or the urge that comes up and move your attention away from the thing that you don’t want to do. It’s just that simple.
I hope this was helpful in talking about habits because habits really do make us who we are. We are our habits. And I want you to think about all the thoughts that you think, all the feelings that you feel, all the actions that you take, every single day. They’re very habit based. Whether it’s the foods that you eat, or whether you exercise or not, what you do day in and day out is habit based.
I want you to know that you have the power to change, only if you decide that you want to.
I hope this was helpful.
I would love to hear from you. Please leave me reviews and/or comments. I would really greatly appreciate it.
Thank you so much for reading this blog! I’ll see you next time.