Breaking Life Long Habits and Why Willpower doesn’t work.
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Breaking Life long habits!! A task that almost seems inconceivable at times. It has taken me six months to fully understand about breaking life long habits and why willpower doesn’t work. Finally, it is all starting to make sense, and I hope this post enlightens and serves you, as well as brings new perspective on a topic so frustrating.
How many times have you set a goal for yourself with every intention of accomplishing it and failed?
And how many times have you beat yourself up for not being self integral (keeping your word to yourself) and wondered,“Why is this so hard?”
You have had a desired a goal forever and often reflected on… “WHY can’t I get it done already?”
It could be a lifelong habit you want to be rid of, maybe drinking or biting your nails, or a personal goal like loosing weight.
Or maybe a financial goal, such as having “X” amount of $$ in a savings by a certain time frame.
Well it took me 51yrs, but I now know and understand why!
And by the end of this post you’re going to understand too, and it just may take some of the guilt and pressure off abit and give you a new found hope!!
Understanding the 3 parts of the brain and their roles in behavior-
Our brain is made up of 3 important central parts.
The first is the prefrontal cortex. It is the “thinking part” of the brain. Here decisions are made.
It’s where we observe, focus our attention, and make and execute plans.
It is the last part of our brain to develop and grows like we do from childhood to adulthood.
You reading this post and taking it in and assessing it is using your prefrontal cortex part of the brain. It is also the center to the conscious and rational thinking.
Secondly, is the mammalian or limbic brain, which is the middle part of the brain.
It is responsible for our emotions and feelings. It is also where short term memory is stored and where our body responds to danger.
Finally, there is the reptilian part of the brain, the oldest part of the brain. It has one job. SURVIVAL!
It’s the part of the brain that’s been around since the beginning of man.
It controls our breathing, our body temperature, and is where all our subconscious thoughts are stored along with our basic survival instincts.
The reptilian part of the brain does not differentiate between good or bad, right or wrong. It simply keeps record of our repetitious habits and deems them as a need for survival.
And it’s also is the culprit behind the scenes of why basic will power (prefrontal cortex thinking) doesn’t work.
Why “Habit Thinking” wins the Battle Every Time
As I mentioned above, the reptilian part of the brain has one job and that is to record our everyday behavior and habits.
It does not process any habit as “good or bad.”
It simply records any behavior we do repetitiously and processes that behavior as necessary “survival.” This is what makes breaking those life long habits so tough.
The problem with that is when you have your prefrontal cortex “thinking” brain telling you to quit a habit, or to start a new habit, (which by the way is also prefrontal cortex thinking because a habit is simply a habit, it’s our “thinking” part of the brain that deems it as good or bad.) it then begins to go into a battle with the reptilian part of the brain that looks something like this example:
You’ve been telling yourself for months that you are done carrying around those extra pounds and tomorrow is the day you begin eating clean and healthy. Tomorrow it’s salad’s, lean protein and zero sweets or junk food.
You wake up feeling motivated and do great day 1,and even day 2 and 3.
The first few days the cravings are bearable because you are feeling determined and strong willed.
Day 4 rolls around and your brain is constantly reminding you how deprived you feel. That’s good and trusty “Mr. Survival brain, reptilian” by the way.
And remember the second part of the brain that was mentioned earlier? The mammalian brain?
Well, mammalian brain works side by side with reptilian brain to tag team the prefrontal cortex brain saying… “you’ve done so well the last few days and a few cookies with that lunchtime salad is not only going to do no harm, but you DESERVE it for 3 days of perfect disciple.”
And here the battle begins!!
Our thinking brain will continue to remind us, how well we are doing, how bad that crap food is for our body, and how frustrated we get when we fall off the wagon.
But it doesn’t have a fighting chance against the other 2 parts of the brain that are emotional AND in survival mode.
And if you have ever tried to give up anything and failed REPEATEDLY, then I don’t need to tell you who will win, EVERY-SINGLE-TIME!
And this is why willpower so rarely, if ever is successful.
There is a man by the name of Jim Fortin who has multiple podcasts on this very subject.
He explains this brain cycle very simple and detailed.
He is an expert in the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. (NLP) as well as a world renowned hypnotist.
He is a Transformation Coach.
Jim has spent over 2 decades studying and understanding the roles of our brains. He explains how it plays into our everyday behavior and life choices through his podcasts.
You can check out his podcast on Breaking Life Long habits right here at Jim Fortin Podcast.
I actually urge you to check out all of his podcasts if you’d like to understand more about the power of the brain as well as life transformation techniques.
This guy covers it all in his podcasts, and has great tools on his website to get started at jimfortin.com
Understanding Life Long Habits
As mentioned earlier, the reptilian part of the brain houses our habits.
And because our habits are stored in the subconscious part of our mind, that’s the place we have to work from to reprogram it.
It’s important to understand that our brain has different frequencies.
Delta: deep sleep/ loss of bodily awareness
Theta: deep relaxation/ tired/ light sleep /REM sleep
Alpha : physically and mentally relaxed/ awake but drowsy
Beta: awake/completely alert/ fully conscious of thoughts and surroundings
Gamma: the highest frequency at which enlightenment takes place/spiritual awakening/ increased awareness of the senses
The first 7 years or so of life our brains are not fully developed and we stay in a constant theta state. The brain hasn’t fully developed yet.
Daydreaming, emotional thinking and a distinction between realty and fairy-tale is day to day comprehension. Our brains do not yet have the capacity to process, interpret and function from a place of problem solving and reason.
This makes understanding how habits form more understandable. We simply run on auto pilot by our day to day habits we have formed through repetition.
Give a child the same bowl for breakfast for example, everyday, and quickly this becomes they child’s “favorite bowl.”
Now, take that bowl away and replace it with a new bowl and watch the child throw a fit!!
The child is not going to rationalize to themselves and understand that a bowl is a bowl and the cereal tastes the same regardless of the bowl.
We have been storing up these habits since our early youth.
This theta thinking effects our everyday thinking as adults. From what we were told or heard about money, our self image, our morals and standards, it was all pre-created from our first 7yrs of life.
Here’s how we begin to interrupt and reprogram that hard wire thinking and slowly start changing those habits that have been life long!
Our subconscious mind is most optimal twice a day.
Begin the first 10 minutes you wake up to “set your intentions” for the day.
(Examples: goals you want to accomplish, self affirming the changes you desire to see and a quick inventory of the future self you are striving for.)
Break the habit of mindless scrolling on your phone as soon as you open your eyes.
Is it not hard to see why we feel exhausted before lunch time!!
All the useless content we read and videos we watch take priority over starting the day focused and renewed.
There is a great book called ” The Miracle Morning” – by Hal Elrod that explains the importance of the way in which we start our day upon waking.
The book also has 6 simple practices to incorporate first thing in the morning.
He calls it S.A.V.E.R.S (an abbreviation for six practices to start your day) that guarantees you a life of fulfilled potential.
I encourage you to check out the book The Morning Miracle by Hal Elrod
Aside from first thing in the morning, the very best time to begin reprogramming your subconscious mind is the obvious time a day when our brain never wants to shut off.
I personally prefer this time and find it most effective.
Right Before Bed!
Thomas Edison once said “Never go to bed without a request to your subconscious mind.”
Our brains are simply just too busy throughout the day thinking and doing our checklist of our schedules.
We stay in prefrontal cortex mode all day long and this is why it is in sleep mode we have the most opportune time to make our changes.
Our “thinking” minds are quieted down and our brain is now relaxed and quiet enough to not only listen, but program and record.
Our hard wire to our subconscious mind responds to reprogramming in two very effective ways.
Meditation and Repetition!
There are meditations all over the internet, and I have a great post on a few great ones to get started if you’re new to meditation which you can find here.
Anything you wish to change within your life can be found with alittle research.
This can be through meditation, affirmations, binaural beats, or subliminal messages.
When I first learned about binaural beats and subliminal messages, I stumbled onto a guy out of the UK by the name of Karl Moore.
Found his YouTube by complete accident, and after trying a sample audio done within an interview he was in, I was instantly impressed and checked out his website.
He has several programs and downloadable audios from beginners to pros.
I own his Zen12 program and many of his Subliminal Guru audios.
They are very inexpensive and have been transforming. The best part is you simply put on your headset before bed and that’s it!!
There’s no thinking or focusing. Your reprogramming takes place as you drift off and while you sleep!!
Repetition of course, is necessary to change any habit. We all know that habits come by repetition. So it is key to replace old habits with new ones.
This is where subconscious reprogramming is helpful.
Make the very first habit you put in place be some sort of meditation. Even just a few minutes in the morning and a few nights a week to begin, is a great start!!
I assure you, the more you put the practice in place, the more you will want to continue!!
It just takes a simple commitment to yourself to want more and feel better about life ahead!! I am committed to this because IT WORKS!!
I have an article on this site about how meditation has changed my life and continues to produce transformation daily, the more I practice it. You can find that post here.
I hope this post will inspire you to at least check out a few suggestions here.
Life is hard!!
But we do have the resources to change our reality (and our life long habits) if we are willing to learn new practices!
Check back often for more great content on how our brain works with our subconscious mind.
Learn how we can reprogram a lifetime of limited thinking.
More content will be coming soon to my homepage menu under Reprogramming the Subconscious Mind.
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