Create replacement habits
Leo Babauta of zenhabits.net published a piece on how willpower can sometimes trump your efforts to break bad habits and create new ones. Leo makes note of triggers we have for our unwanted habits and their power over us. He offers some fine insight and strategies on how to deal with these triggers, let go of the old habits and create lasting positive structures.
He drives home creating replacement habits and attaching positive feedback to them that is greater than the feedback for the old behavior. Towards willpower, he offers excellent bullets on creating awareness by breathing and noticing your urges to give you time to act differently.
What’s below the trigger?
I liked what Leo said and want to take the trigger piece one-step further. What lies underneath the trigger for habits that seem difficult to break? What is the mental/emotional/belief that created the need for the habit in the first place? There are tough recurring habits that are grounded in our mental models and our deeply held beliefs about ourselves that require further exploration to break.
Recently, my fiancé and I embarked on changing to a clean eating vegetarian lifestyle. We did eat fairly healthy prior to this new habit, but still indulged in the occasional pizza, latte and burrito. I still have a soft spot for salami and cheese; I blame this on my wonderful German upbringing. ?
This new way of eating created multiple new habits for us including: menu research, grocery shopping and increased cooking time, which caused shifts in old habits, etc…
Old habits die-hard
In the past, I tried to change the way I ate only to revert into old patterns that kept me stuck. There is something different this time. In-between my last try at eating healthier I sat down and did some self-research into why I kept going back to old ways.
It came down one to simple question… What was I serving by eating this way?
In other words, what piece of me was I consciously or unconsciously making happy or safe by continuing in my old ways of eating? What was causing my trigger?
After journaling and reflection, I resolved that as a child I sought food for comfort and never grew completely out of that. With this awareness, I now had a choice of living out of that old belief or living in the present towards my current wishes. I knew what was under the trigger and could now deal with it consciously. This knowledge combined with Leo’s habit creation strategy has helped me stay on track.
Think of “what is serving me?” as another tool in your tool belt towards busting those hard to break behaviors. It will help you get one step closer to achieving your goals and removing obstacles that stand in your way.
Derek Lauber, ACC
image courtesy: vizzual.com