New Year, New Habits?

Filed under [ Self ]

It’s the third week in January. If you are like most people, you have either stopped making New Year resolutions or have already broken the ones you made. What’s up with that? You know you need to eat smaller portions; you know your body is screaming to get some exercise; you know you can’t afford to buy this latest thing you “need”; you know you want to stop waiting until the last moment to do your taxes. You know, you know, you know. Where is the disconnect between your mind and your actions?

Again, if you are like most people, you probably think this is some major deficiency in you- you are uniquely weak and undisciplined. It is comical how self-serving the ego can be in its desire to be unique and special, even when its specialness is self-defeating. So much so that you ignore the fact that most people suffer from this very same conundrum – unable to follow through on their compelling promises to themselves.

So what is going on here? Why is it so hard for people to follow through?

The typical response is people just lack discipline or strength of conviction.

It is not as simple as that.

We are habitual beings. Our system is wired to automate our daily routine behaviors, like driving a car, taking a shower, washing dishes, etc., so that our minds free up the “thinking “ parts of our brain for more creative purposes. While this is very adaptive and generally benefits us greatly, it is also an impediment to developing new habits.

When we decide that we want to eat less or begin to exercise regularly, etc., what we are actually doing is expecting ourselves to create new habits. Unbeknown to us, our brains are programmed not to let go of the old ones. This puts us in a battle with a system that wants to hold on to the old behaviors and fight us to the death to keep them. Is it any wonder most people don’t succeed?

To make matters more complicated, many of our habitual behaviors were developed when we were too young to understand how they served us.

It’s really hard to win this battle when you don’t know what you are fighting!

In my next few blogs I will provide more examples of how our wiring affects our behaviors in our daily lives.

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