3 Steps to Breaking Old HabitsJun 16, 2022
EXCUSES & AWARENESS
So, in my last post, I talked about EXCUSES… what are they, why we make them, and what we can do to change them.
We also addressed AWARENESS, which is just being aware of your thoughts and the actions that happen because of those thoughts. As a refresher, here’s an example:
You complain about cooking and eating the same old thing each week, yet you don’t do anything about it (i.e. look for new recipes) because it feels overwhelming and you aren’t really that confident as a cook, so why even try (the excuse)?
And what happens as a result? You are still eating the same old recipes.
So, today, we are going to put two and two together and learn how excuses can lead to the formation of habits. And although habits feel ingrained in who we are and what we do, they are actually learned behaviors that can be changed.
In order to do this, however, you have to UNDERSTAND how they are formed in the first place, and this happens by – you guessed it – AWARENESS!
I find this process fascinating because so often we have no real idea of how powerful our thoughts are and how much they affect the things we actually do.
CONNECTING THE DOTS
So, let’s connect the dots between your excuses and your habits, shall we?
The official (or psychological) term for the process we’re about to learn is called THE BEHAVIOR CHAIN and it starts with a trigger.
Every habit you establish is born out of a specific context, which for our purposes we’ll call a trigger. And here's how it works:
You are triggered by something; then you have a (subconscious) thought, which results in an action (negative or positive), and then there’s a consequence for said action (again, negative or positive).
DIFFERENT KINDS OF TRIGGERS
Triggers can be environmental, mental, emotional, or social.
- Environmental: A cheese & meat platter at a party
- Social: Everyone else at the party indulging in said platter
- Mental: Feeling overwhelmed by the crowd, the food, and the music at a party
- Emotional: Feeling stressed by all the small talk you have to make at this party
Many times you'll experience all of them at once, which can really create chaos in your brain!
But that's why I'm here... to help you understand this mental process so that you will ultimately become more aware of your thoughts and how they can turn into habits.
THE BEHAVIOR CHAIN
Now, in the last email, I asked you to recall something that you don’t like about yourself, your thoughts, or your actions that you would like to change. As an example, maybe you wrote “losing your self-control on the party platter at, well, a party.”
So, let’s track this party platter scenario and see if it helps you better understand the Behavior Chain and the habit-building process, because the only way to “unlearn” a habit is to first understand the subconscious process behind it.
The Trigger: You’re at said party and you see the most amazing party platter (this is a physical trigger).
The Thought: After you’re triggered, you have a subconscious thought like “everyone else is doing it”, “you deserve this”, or “you’re not going to succeed anyway, so why not have some fun?”
The Action: After the thought comes an action – indulgence in the cheese spread or cookies or what have you.
Enter The Consequence: I probably don’t have to outline this one, but for the sake of prosperity, I will…
4 TYPES OF CONSEQUENCES:
- Physical - stomachache
- Physiological – uncontrolled cravings
- Psychological – wondering: Why did I do that?
- Emotional – feeling confused, overwhelmed, like a failure
Sometimes, you even experience ALL 4 consequences, which is a doozy to say the least!
And over time, if you do not track your thoughts around your excuses and see how they lead to specific actions, you will create a habit – which in the case of our scenario would be always indulging at parties.
So, for today’s action item, I want you to work backwards with one of your habits (excuses) that you would like to change. So, get out that pen and paper (or Google Docs or whatever) and let’s get to it!
What’s your unhelpful habit
- Skipping/avoiding the gym
- Hitting the fridge after a long day
- Grazing the snack table at a party
- Ordering takeout instead of cooking at home
- Eating sweets during coffee breaks
What thoughts do you have around this habit?
- My family or friends will be offended if I don’t eat what’s offered
- I’ll go to the gym tomorrow
- I can’t be bothered to make food
- I deserve it or I’ve been “good” all week/day
- Everyone else does X, Y Z, so why can’t I?
- I just can’t resist
- This will help me feel better
What triggers the thought
- Hunger – emotional or physical
- Feeling tired or low energy
- A stressful or emotional day
- Eating in social situations
- Not enough time
- Sweet treats or other temptations
- Peer pressure
And there you go! You’ve mapped out your first Behavior Chain!
Trigger >> Thought >> Action >>
Pro Tip #1: I highly encourage you to keep this somewhere where you can look at it and remind yourself to be mindful of your thoughts.
Pro Tip #2: I also encourage you to get in the habit (no pun intended) of tracking your thoughts behind your actions, especially the ones you want to change.
Pro Tip #3: If this process of analyzing your thoughts & actions seems overwhelming to you and you don't really know where to start, I HIGHLY encourage you to Book a Discovery Call with me to find out how my Foundations Program will help you to not only resolve your health issues but put in place systems and strategies to make sure your new health routine sticks for good!
P.S. Don't forget to check out my Foundational Mini Mindset Course that just launched in January. This course will solidify these concepts and be a great way to put all these action items to work in real time!
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