As pandemic restrictions ease, I've been struck by how many bad habits I've acquired over the past few years! Overscrolling social media, evenings with alcohol, even overbuying food. The need to feel connected and safe in my home was very real. I see how these habits developed and now how they aren't serving me.
Autumn is a wonderful time to let go. The Earth's energy is becoming more restful and there is surrender to letting things fall away and decay. It's my favorite time to reset my life. With everything dying, it also feels like a new beginning.... coming back to routine after the free flowing feeling of summer. It's a perfect time to assess what is serving you and what do you want to let go of.
Habits form when repetition forms a neuropathway in our brain. This is a good thing when learning a skill like dance steps, playing an instrument, or learning a language. Repetition allows your brain to not think about what your doing and your body takes over the action. It's problematic, though, when the pathway forms around a habit that no longer is useful in your life... or worse, is creating negative results.
Luckily our brains have neuroplasticity! That means it can form and reorganize synaptic connections! It just takes awareness, intention, and a little bit of grit.
Awareness: what does this habit provide for you? (Ie alcohol provides relaxation, a sense of social belonging, relief from boredom, etc.) Make a list of all the benefits of the habit. Brainstorm other ways to meet these same needs. Make a list of all the negative consequences of the action, too. Having more awareness around habits lights up our prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for planning, decision making, and goals.
Intention: Intention is power for the lazy! Setting an intention is an action that requires more Being than Doing. Internally connecting with your goal every day- bringing to mind the feeling of fulfillment when you have broken a habit... noticing the sensations in your body as you imagine your goal. Bringing to mind daily, or hourly how you want your life to be. Finding a symbol to represent breaking a certain habit and holding that image throughout your day.
Grit: It does take work. You are strong and powerful, though! What makes you remember your strength? What can you do to create support in your life?
Before engaging in a habitual activity, PAUSE. Take 3 deep intentional breaths. This action is like putting a log across a path.. it slows you down and makes continuing on the path less automatic.
What can you do to control your environment so that the ground isn't fertile to grow your habit? Ie: if you are trying to watch less tv, moving the chair you sit in to face away from the tv. If you are trying to scroll less, put your phone in a separate room so it's not in easy reach. All these little things add up.
Hire a coach! This can be huge for staying focused and accountable. Also , a coach will hold the strongest most powerful vision of you!
Be easy with yourself. It takes time.
The book The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doige
The book Atomic Habits by James Clear
The Book The Brain Over Binge Recovery Guide by Kathryn Hansen
The podcast, This Naked Mind by Annie Grace