Just last week one of the participants in a course I was running threw a great question at me. It was a question that I think each of us has asked at one time or another. “So Trinidad,” she said, “How do you break a habit when you realize that it no longer serves you or supports your growth?”
I responded instantly with, “The simple answer to that is, you don’t break a habit!“
The deep structure answer to that is that if you try to break a habit, you only deepen the habit. In fact, the more attention you give to the habit you want to change, the more deeply entrenched it becomes. For every habit that you and I have, there is a neural highway widely traveled in the brain. Every time the habit kicks in the chemical and electrical neural circuitry runs a repetitive path in the brain.
So the secret is… take your attention off the habit that you want to change and put your attention on the new habit you want to form. As you do this, you begin to create a new neural pathway. It’s like diverting a train from the main line its been traveling to a brand new line. Leave the old track alone and make a new track!
And the more you access that track, the more attention you give to it, the more entrenched the new track becomes. Below is a simple 6 step process for making a new habit.
- Have a new insight or make a new decision.
- Reflect on it. Visualize it. Storyboard your interpretation of it and write it as a goal statement.
- Speak of your intention to a close friend or partner.
- Take action.
- Assess the results. Compliment yourself on what worked and course correct where necessary.
- Repeat steps 5 and 6 over time until the new behavior becomes the automatic behavior!
For those of you who are interested, I did a series on changing habits dated March 26th and 31st, continuing on into April. You may want to track back and have a look.
Thank You, Australia… It’s been a fantastic trip! I’ll be back in August to see many of you again and I’m really looking forward to it!