- Mental Health
How to Form a New Habit and Take Control of Your Mind Once and For All: Part Two
A Few Words on Changing Habits
The majority of us accept that we have a number of bad habits, such as nail-biting, smoking, drinking in excess, nose picking etc, but, do we question or challenge the existence of these habits? Surprisingly, not as often as one might think. Why is this? Why do we readily admit to being slaves to these habits, yet every new year continue to make resolutions and promises to conquer these habits, only to predictably procrastinate?
The answers to that question are many and varied, according to my own biased opinion here are a few reasons:
1. We somehow believe that changing habits is extremely difficult and therefore don't even try. After all, we have a life to lead.
2. Some people believe they have no choice, as these habits are a part of their personality. Take away the habit and part of the personality is also removed.
3. Rather than improving themselves from the inside out, most people try to improve from the outside in, by buying more accessories and possessions.
4. People just aren't made aware enough of the fact that controlling behavior and changing habits is well and truly within their power. We are strangely ignorant of just how much control we have.
Regain Control of Your Mind in Order to Begin changing habits
Thought always without exception, precedes action. It could be the smallest most trivial action, barely noticeable by your conscious mind which is constantly in motion and therefore processes the thought at a ridiculously fast pace, far superior to any computer in existence.
In that case, the first step on the path to changing habits and regaining control is to monitor and study your thoughts on a daily basis. Believe me, I have been doing this for the last 2 years and you would be astounded by the amount of junk that goes through your mind while you are doing mundane things like traveling to work, working, having a lunch break etc
That's where we come to the first technique I'd like to share with you.
Oh, and this very appropriate quote:
"Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions.Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your character. Your character becomes your destiny."
Changing Habits Through Selective Thinking
Think your Way Out of a Habit
This technique probably falls under many labels and names but I prefer to call it the "Think your way out of a habit" technique as essentially that is exactly what you are doing while utilizing it, however, it does take persistence and a real desire for change.
In my opinion, if we give people the tools for changing habits, most will use them. We need techniques and tools as well as a constant dose of inspiration and motivation. Here I supply the tools for you to begin changing your habits, but it's up to you to provide the inspiration and passion, which, naturally should already be there if you are serious about changing your habits.
Think your Way Out of a Habit
Step One: First of all, set aside some time each night in which you can be alone for at least five minutes.
Step Two: Take a clock to your selected place and place it in front of your chosen seat.
Step Three: Each night, go to your seat, get comfortable and then stare at the minute hand of the clock until five minutes has elapsed. This is extremely important as this part is readying your mind for the changing of the habit. Practice this once a night.
Step Four: Now that you have built a new habit, a habit of controlling and focusing your attention without it wandering off, it is time to start using the technique for changing your habits.
Step Five: Throughout your day, observe your thoughts and where they are leading you. For example, you might be walking to work which takes 5 minutes and during the walk your habitual mind may pop this thought into your head: "What about a ciggie?" Signal received, your hand automatically reaches into your pocket and pulls out the cigarettes. Practice observing and make a note of all the thoughts that lead you to perform habitual behavior.
Step Six: When you have sufficiently practiced observing your thoughts and the actions that follow them, make a note of the habits that you have observed or previously knew about anyway. Decide which ones you no longer want to be controlled by and in their place, choose new habits as we all know that "nature abhors a vacuum."
Step Seven: Now armed with a focused mind and a list of new habits it is time to begin the habit changing. It is well-known throughout the self-help community that it takes approximately 21 days to form a new habit or replace an old one, so you must keep this up for 21 full days with NO DAYS OFF!
Step Eight: Start a journal and on the first page write the date and label the page "Day One:"
Step Nine: As you go about your normal day, observe your thoughts and behavior that follows those thoughts. When you spot thoughts that lead to the initiation of one of your bad habits, stop the thought gently, see yourself taking the thought and screwing it up into a little ball, placing it in the sink and setting fire to it. Then once it is burnt, run the tap/faucet and wash it away. Finally, think a thought that will strengthen your newly desired habit and follow the thought up with whatever action is required to strengthen the new habit.
Step Ten: Make a note of your daily progress in the journal that you have prepared and set yourself challenges for the day after. If you miss a day, start over again. It took me 3 attempts to complete this technique as I kept missing a day half way through but I persevered and never gave up. As a result, I have a new set of habits that I'm the proud owner of!
Do this for 21 days and not only will you get rid of a bad habit, but you'll form a new habit.
Do you see how simple it is? Once you know the steps, it is simple, just like any recipe in a cookbook. You can't bake a delicious apple pie unless you use the right ingredients and follow a set of guidelines and the same applies to your brain. Know it, understand it, exercise it and choose which programs/habits it is filled with and you will truly become the master of your life.
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- How to Form a New Habit and Take Control of Your Mind Once and For All. Part One
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