Anchoring New Behaviors

Today we are going to focus on changing habits. Everyone wants to change bad habits, right? Go ahead and think of something, some behavior that you would like to replace with a different behavior, whether it’s eating or smoking, or exercising, lack of focus, whatever it is. Do you have something in mind? If your mind was flooded with ideas, just pick and stick with one habit that you wish to change at a time.

One example would be weight loss. There are many reasons why a person gains weight. The obvious ones of course have to do with eating too much, eating the wrong foods, and getting enough exercise. Beyond these reasons are even more fundamental root causes. Why do we overeat? Why would we choose the wrong foods for our bodies? And why do we not get enough exercise, when we know it would make our bodies feel better? By exploring these root causes for you as an individual, you will have a deeper understanding of what is going on in your body. And the subconscious purpose of that extra protection, or layer of insulation around your body. When we are able to address these issues and make some corrections in our beliefs, to our relationship with the world around us, and to ourselves, it will be easier to shed the extra pounds, and you will be more successful in maintaining the lower, desirable weight.

Habits are actions that become automatic over time, such as waking up, getting out of bed, going to the bathroom, getting a drink of water, and brushing your teeth. We do these things without even thinking about them. But some actions become automatic even if we know they aren’t healthy or helpful for us. So what can you do to change those actions that have become so ingrained that they are now habits? Well, first you need to have awareness around that habit. What is it that you are doing, when do you do it, and what is its purpose? For something to become a habit-even an unhealthy one-it has to be serving you in some way. Looking at both how a habit is benefitting you AND how it is being detrimental to you is a key component to moving forward in making a more positive change. I work with my private clients on this all the time. I support them in tapping into their subconscious minds, which are often hiding these reasons why the habit is benefiting them, even though it is holding them back from their goals, so that we can find a way to get that benefit in another way AND reach their goals at the same time.

After you have clarity around the habit, the next step is that we need to practice some self-compassion. Once you know why the habit is there and how it is serving you, you can identify what need it is fulfilling, and then find a way to fill that need that is more helpful and healthy, whether that is physically or emotionally. Give yourself grace for having the habit, and love on yourself to make sure your needs are fulfilled. The third step to changing a habit is to tap into your inner wisdom. Know that you have the choice to make that change and are perfectly capable of doing so. Decide what positive habit you will replace the not so positive one with, so that you don’t have a void. And once you decide what will be the replacement habit, identify the triggers for your current habit and how you will deal with them. What triggers can you remove from your environment, such as having the chips and ice cream in your house, and how you will deal with standing in front of the fridge door when you are craving unhealthy snacks. It could be as simple as pausing to reflect on WHY you are in front of that door, taking a few deep slow breaths, and making a conscious decision what action to take next rather than just being reactive to whatever triggered you.

Once you’ve figured out what those triggers are and what changes you are planning to make, it’s time to visualize that new you. Targeted visualization retrains your brain by giving it something to work toward. Your subconscious mind will constantly be working in the background to make that scenario a reality when you give it a strong enough picture to work toward. And the sixth and final step to changing habits and anchoring new behaviors, is to realize and tell yourself that you are in the process of becoming that person in the picture. Know that just as it took time to build the habit you are trying to replace, it will also take time to change that habit and replace it with your new, healthier habit. Take microsteps and celebrate each and every success, but don’t beat yourself up when you slip. In my group hypnotherapy program the Clarity Collective, as well as with my private clients, we talk about doing a mental awareness check every morning, evening and throughout the day to make sure they are that future self they envision, and how to pull themselves back into that vision if they ever slip out of it. Tell yourself, “I am in the process of becoming (insert your goal) healthier, so that I can (insert your vision) live a long, energetic life with my family.” Your mind will believe you that you are in process much more readily than it will believe that you are a master at something in an instant that you have been struggling with for years. And it will be easier to forgive yourself when you slip up here and there, and just move forward to the next win.

There is no exact time frame for changing a habit, and anchoring in new behaviors. It may take just a few weeks, and it could be a few months. So just take it one day, one step, and one choice at a time and before you know it, your new healthy habit will be cemented into place! And should you need support in answering these questions for yourself, changing the old behaviors, and anchoring in the new healthier behaviors, I’m here to help.