” The secret of permanently breaking any bad habit is to love something greater than any habit.”
– Bryant McGill
Are you ready to make a change to improve your health?
Chances are you’ve tried numerous times without success. Some statistics show up to 70 percent of people fail to achieve their health goals. So what’s going on? Why is an old habit so hard to change? Let’s face it; we’ve all been there! Breaking old habits reminds me of that “Bad Boy” relationship most of us had in our younger years. Instinctively you knew the Bad Boy would get you into trouble, but you couldn’t help but fall in love with him. The big question remains, why did you do it?
Bad habits are like that too. You know what to do, but you can’t break the cycle of repeating the same patterns and then feeling “brokenhearted.” Well, it’s time to “break up with yourself” once and for all. Now let’s dive into what’s got you stuck in a Heartbreak Hotel.
The subconscious mind, on the other hand, is responsible for all automatic body functions and thoughts.
It’s what keeps you moving through your daily routine without requiring much focus. I bet you can think of days when you wonder how you even got to work and felt like you were indeed on autopilot. For that, you can thank the subconscious mind! It controls bodily functions like walking, breathing, eating, and so much more. Our core beliefs, habits, values, and many behaviors are stored there as well. The subconscious is a bank that holds memories of past experiences and the emotional response the experiences elicited.
Negative and positive experiences starting in early childhood become memories in the subconscious. The mind uses memories to create automatic responses to perceived threats, whether mental or physical, to keep us safe.
Let’s say, for example, your athletic coach frequently made comments about your weight during practice. These comments drew unwanted attention and feelings of shame, self-doubt, and anxiety.
Before this, you were not aware that your body image differed from that of your peers. Understandably, you would return home hurt and depressed. Mom sensed your low mood and came to the rescue with a bowl of ice cream. Mom wanted you to feel better and repeatedly offered you ice cream when you were sad or anxious. After some time, whenever you felt shame, self-doubt, isolation, or anxiety, binging on junk foods became automatic. Presto, an unhealthy habit is born!
Repeating this habit hardwired it in your brain’s neuropathways. Chemical messengers like dopamine, a feel-good hormone, were released in the body each time you ate the ice cream, creating a physical addiction to the emotion.
Your sadness prompted the craving for ice cream, which triggered the short-term release of feel-good brain chemical dopamine. Afterward, you felt “out of control” because the action was not a conscious decision, thus creating more feelings of shame, self-doubt, and anxiety.
So how do we break away from these deeply ingrained habits?
And what does that have to do with the Bad Boy?
To change your habits, you need to bring the subconscious to a conscious level, sit down and have a heart-to-heart with the two parts of your mind. Not everything we learned in childhood is helpful or constructive. Taking a hard look at the connection between experiences and behavior is the key to creating permanent change.
“We must become aware of the old self to change.” Dr. Joe Dispenza
The following practices can have you on the fast track to breaking up with yourself.
1. Witness your behavior:
Start paying attention to what triggers the habits you want to change. Is there a correlation with a specific time of day, person, activity, place, or emotion? Grab a journal to document what you are learning about yourself.
“If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
2. Practice mindfulness
The art of mindfulness involves living in the present moment and accepting yourself without judgment. Mindfulness creates space to allow you to move away from reactivity and impulsive choices and choose how to respond consciously. It’s time to put the breaks on this subconscious habit!
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but building the new.” -Socrates
Socrates says it best! Your body does not know the difference between what is real versus what is imaginary. So how about retraining the brain by envisioning a new version of yourself without old habits?
What would your life be?
How would you feel, think and act?
Could you achieve a new health goal?
Lose weight, have more energy, feel more confident?
Spend ten minutes every morning visualizing the actions and elevated emotions the future you will experience.
4. Give yourself grace
Self-defeating thoughts play a significant role in creating physical imbalances in the body, making it difficult to move away from our current habits. Accepting yourself just as you are and getting the support you need can make all the difference in getting where you want to go! Maybe you need a mental health counselor to sort through some traumatic events or a registered dietitian specializing in health coaching. Whatever you decide, please don’t do it alone!
You CAN overcome unwanted habits by implementing these practices daily to retrain the subconscious mind and hardwire the new future version of you!
Repetition is the key to hardwiring the future version of you!
Final thoughts from the Registered Dietitian who’s been there…
Anxiety, depression, and feelings of insecurity hold us back from our true purpose. Fear can paralyze even the strongest among us.
Why not let go of the past and instead focus on what makes you awesomely YOU?
As a person that battled these issues for years, I can honestly say I learned how to break up with myself. Now I am devoted to helping others find their authentic self and live fully. I know this is possible, as I have guided many through the obstacles that have them trapped. I encourage you to step forward and find the beauty of YOU. Let’s kick that bad boy to the curb!