HOW do you change habits?

So there is a lot of advice out there telling you why you need to change beliefs, habits and lifestyle to achieve the life you truly desire to live.

And that's great and all.

Many of us are aware that we need to change.

Many of us are painfully aware of the self-destructive things we do, that we wish would just vanish. Every Monday we start a new. Every year we set the same resolutions. And days turn into weeks that turn into months, years. The story of our life.

change direction

If we think back on all those years - decades even, that we have tried and tried and yet we are exactly where we started; it can seem quite depressing.

So much time we will never get back. So much life lived in fear. Trying to keep going - pushing ourselves harder and harder - because you know what they say, "no pain, no gain".

And here we are. Painfully aware that we have not changed.

That every time some uncomfortable emotion hits us, we still turn to food, alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, shopping sprees and other binging behaviors. Perhaps having exchanged our primary addiction for another more socially acceptable, in order to continue our self-destructive ways within the frames of "normalcy". I wouldn't really trust the term normal in our society today. Anyway - not the point I want to get into today.

The thing most of us are left with, after reading through every self-help book and going to every therapist and recovery rehab under the sun, is still HOW.

HOW do I change?

And this is exactly what I will answer today.

socrates change

There are 5 qualities you need to focus on promoting, in order for lasting change to happen from the inside out. These qualities facilitate change. Without them we are stuck pushing lacking a solid fundament to fall back on and keep going. 

These 5 qualities actually form the fundament for flexibility in your life in EVERY area.

It is like having a muscle that you can use to rapidly move forward, whenever you need to, in whatever area you need.

5 Qualities That Promote CHANGE:

1. Curiosity: Be open. Every time you say "I can't", question yourself.

Is it really true that you CAN'T, or are you just not willing to do what it takes right now? That's OK. You just need to be 100% transparent to yourself on what it is, that is holding you back at the moment. Otherwise you can't ever muster up the ability to change. Questioning yourself everyday is key when you need to change current engrained habits and deep-seated belief-systems. Whenever you have an uncomfortable thought popping up, you ask yourself why - what is the truth to this thought? We call this ANTS = Automated Negative Thoughts. Basically you are asking yourself WHY instead of JUDGING yourself. Judging stumbles growth and change. And this is something, that you can practice every moment regardless of how deep in your addiction you are. It is essential to do this in order to create a solid fundament for happy change. Realize this is a simple choice within your reach right now. You can choose how to react to your negative thoughts - you can say, you know what, even if this is true, I am willing to explore the basis of my current belief-system. If you are not willing to do this, you are not willing to change. End of story. So stop complaining anymore, and start again when you are ready challenge your belief-system.

2. Compassion: This means never saying something to yourself that you wouldn't say to your friend or a young child.

Your tongue is the sharpest weapon you have and can create lasting scars on your soul. We all need to be aware that our words shape our reality and can have a lasting impact on those that cross our path. Physical pain may hurt in the moment, but it will seize. Words stay with us... forever. Compassion means being able to look clearly at our flaws and determine what is no longer serving us from a neutral place rather than an abusive and judging. It means being naked emotionally rather than all the masks we wear to hide our true being that we think is so flawed, that no one would ever love us, if ever they knew how imperfect we are. This type of secrecy and brainwashing only disconnects us from other people further and digs our own grave basically. Our obsession with perfection is what alienates us in the first place.

3. Practice: Neural pathways are formed in your brain every time you perform an action.

This is why practices makes progress. Every time you think or act in a certain way you are re-programming your mind. To form new habits you need to repeat the new way of thinking and acting more than your old programming. We tend to try something once, twice maybe even for a month, and then we call quits. It didn't work. We go back to old patterns, We need to stop this and focus on the journey - focusing on the steps we are taking. Think about how babies never give up trying to walk until they are able to walk. They do so because everyone around them are walking and so it is programmed into them that this is possible, this is doable. And thus, they never give up. You need to get back to this way of thinking. Practicing is not the same as mastering - so the moment you "fail", you go back to quality one, and ask yourself WHY. Why did I go back to my old ways? Again, in order to practice for progress, you absolutely CANNOT judge yourself along the way. No one wants to be judged, so it's only natural to give up, if we judge ourselves for our imperfections constantly every time we try.

4. Patience: This will take time.

So focus on how you are freeing up mental space to be more loving towards yourself and others, rather than whether you have progressed overnight. Focus on micro steps. This makes it tolerable even on bad days - this way you can see how you have opened your mind to ask yourself WHY you are doing xyz rather, instead of judging yourself and going on week-long self-destructive binge behaviors. Be OK with the process - you do this be centering your goals around soft goals and microsteps. Goals that are within reach and a matter of choice even on your worst of days. Think micro - not mini. Again maybe simply questioning your ANTS is your goal. Consider engaging in activities that center around fostering patience - i.e. yoga, meditation, surfing, skiing - basically any new sport where you are not competing with others.

surf mindset skills

5. Persistence: This is closely tied to practice. We need to have decided within, that we will do whatever it takes to get where we want to be - even if we can't grasp how.

Even if it seems as if our addiction is necessary for our very survival as our need for air. And yes, this is a choice we make. No action needed - except deciding that YES, I will have faith in that I can reach this goal even if I don't now how to get there right now. We don't know how to get to the end in order to take that first step. And this is where most of us fall short. We refuse to take any action, until we have seen the entire staircase laid out in front of us. Life doesn't work that way.

We decide that we want something and start taking microsteps;  thereafter the path unfolds little by little. 

These are the 5 qualities we all need in order to change - this is the answer to HOW do I change.

be kind

Start implementing them by first checking on yourself each time you have an ANT and question WHY - is it really true? And be open to that you may not know everything you think you know. Including what your worth really is and that your thoughts may be way off. remember that people treat us the way we train them to treat 

You need to be WILLING to let go of stubborn beliefs, that you have held onto for way too long.