- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
How to Form Habits that Help You to Take Control of Your Mind Once and For All. Part One
Changing Habits for The advancement of Your Life
I write this hub, not from the perspective of a Professor of psychology, nor from a perspective of an expert in the field, but rather from the point of view of a person who is attempting to seize control of his life through the use of psychology and an understanding of how the human brain operates. For years now, I have sought for answers, clues or information that would lead me to some sort of holy grail of psychology that would enlighten me once and for all and allow me to live the sort of life most people can only dream of. On this journey, I discovered great works by People such as William Atkinson and Joseph Murphy and they taught me of the wonderful and almost mystical powers of the subconscious mind. They taught me that we are forever forming habits and that although we don't know it, we have a choice. We can accept a habit formation or reject it just before the whole process gains momentum, and, if we are filled with undesirable habits then we can go about changing those habits and choosing worthier replacements. My life changed forever from that moment on and I'd like to share with you, some of the life changing information I learned and am still learning to this day.
Whether we like it or not we are all influenced on a daily basis by our deeply ingrained habits, in fact we are forming and have always been forming habits on a daily basis. Some of these habits are useful, some are detrimental to our health, others to our self-improvement. Alas, it seems that many of us are completely and inexplicably unaware of the process of habit forming or even of the power these habits have over us. The first step on the road to changing habits then, is to first understand the process and the cumulative effects habits have upon an individual.
Habit changing-life changing
How Are Habits Formed?
The first key to changing habits then is to understand just how habits are formed. Habits are formed in much the same way that new skills are learned, in fact there is barely a discernible difference in the whole process. Take for example, a child setting out to learn how to ride a bicycle. The very first time she climbs onto the bicycle and attempts to ride, she falls off after a push or two of the pedals, this process is then repeated a few times until eventually she is able to ride the bicycle without falling off. Thus, an action, skill or behavior repeated over and over becomes easier throughout the repetition. This is as true for skills as it is for habits because in both cases, during the repetition process, new neural networks are being formed and strengthened until eventually almost hardly any conscious effort is required by an individual. A habit or skill is born, whether it is unwanted or not.
The subconscious Mind-Our Secretary
Now we come to the really interesting part. The conscious mind, which is what is reading these words right now only consists of roughly 5% of the human brain. When you consider that the human brain has around 100 billion neurons (brain cells) that is a pretty small figure and seems like an awful waste. The other 95% is being put to good use though. If our conscious mind, the mind we use while awake is the Director, then our subconscious mind is our Secretary. I compare it to a secretary because it not only regulates our organs, digestion, blood flow, growth and breathes for us, but also takes care of the millions of movements, calculations, reactions, habits and skills that are a part of us on a daily basis. Can you imagine controlling walking with your conscious mind? Well just try to imagine what it would be like to manually command each muscle in your body while taking just a few steps, that's over 200 muscles! Then what about every other process, such as the calculations we would have to perform to judge distance, height etc etc. It's incomprehensible isn't it. Luckily, we have our secretary to take care of all those jobs.
So now you are able to see just a little more clearly how habits are formed.
Step One: Let's use Facebook as an example. A person who had never used this social website before, recommended it by a friend joins up and sets up a page for himself. A faint neural network is established and the subconscious is made aware of the new action.
Step Two: During his normal daily routine, the habit not yet formed or under the control of the subconscious mind it doesn't occur to him to check Facebook until a friend calls and reminds him. He then strengthens the neural network even more by signing in once again to check and chat with a friend of his. The subconscious mind takes note of this new action but does not yet take the reins.
Step Three: Remembering his previous day's experience of adding and accepting new friend requests and having a nice chat with a friend for an hour, this time his subconscious mind sends him a gentle reminder and he immediately goes to his Facebook account to check for more friends and comments. The neural network is now pretty solid and the subconscious mind is poised to take the reins and save the conscious mind the work of remembering to return to Facebook.
Step Four: He returns home and with barely a nudge from the subconscious mind, he proceeds straight to his Facebook page. The habit is now fully formed and is now the domain of the subconscious mind.
Step Five: He no longer even consciously thinks of checking Facebook. It just happens automatically with no need to use any of the 5% of brain power used by the conscious mind. Habit fully formed and functional!
So you see, the key to forming new habits and preventing yourself from being burdened with unwanted habits is to pay attention to the actions and thoughts you are repeating or about to repeat. It works both ways, you can form a good habit or a bad habit. The choice is yours. Why not sit down and write out a list of good habits that you want to hand over to the subconscious mind? Then while you are at it, sit down and write out your bad habits, then put a stop to them.
Read my next hub to learn some useful techniques that will assist you in removing old unwanted habits from your subconscious mind, including shyness, nail-biting, negative thinking etc.