CHANGING A HABIT TAKES MORE THAN WILLPOWER
- Our conscious mind deals with normal everyday awareness. It is involved in planning, reasoning and helping us to decide what we want more of in life. However, it is very limited and is said to only govern about 5% of what we do and experience.
- Our subconscious mind is where we record our memories and habits. It is where our beliefs about ourselves and the world are stored. It is our default mode and a very powerful indicator of the type of life that we will create. It is responsible for approximately 95% of the results that we achieve. It is also connected to our Higher Self or Wise Mind.
- Up until the age of about 7, our brains are very “plastic” and our brainwaves are primarily in the Theta and Delta ranges. These brain waves patterns are the ones that are used in hypnosis and when our brain is in this state, it is very receptive to new ideas and information. Additionally, thanks to a biological reflex in our brain known as mirror neurons, we automatically and unconsciously form mental representations of the people we observe. It appears that mirror neurons make and save recordings of the significant messages that we hear over a long period of time. Because of these two mechanisms, as children we take in and make our own the messages that we received and the behavioral patterns that we learned from our earliest caretakers and experiences.
- In our society, some of the most common beliefs that we take in from our childhood experiences are that we are not good enough, deserving, worthy, capable or lovable. These beliefs are associated with distressing emotions and we ultimately develop defense mechanisms and behavioral patterns to compensate for them. An example of this involves the development of compulsive behaviors like overeating, which become our attempt to stuff our feelings and make us feel better.
- If our subconscious beliefs and ingrained behavioral patterns are not supportive of our conscious desires, over time our efforts to change the more destructive patterns in our lives will be rejected by our subconscious mind and we will eventually fall back into our default mode of core beliefs and behavior patterns. This is the reason why it is so challenging to change our habits and why it involves far more than willpower and discipline to do so.
- To be successful in both achieving and maintaining the goals that we set for ourselves and live the life that we all deserve, we must learn and utilize strategies that enable us to release our stored emotional pain and transform our underlying core beliefs. If not, they will continue to present blocks that sabotage our success and ability to attain the outcomes that we desire.
It was all good! The importance of our subconscious patterns:
- Their intention was positive and protective.
- They helped us to survive.
- Although they served an important function at one point in our lives, they no longer serve us now.
- We must learn to acknowledge, accept and have gratitude for the role that they played. Mindfulness practices help us to achieve this.
The amazing discovery about our brains called neuroplasticity:
- The good news is that recent discoveries in brain research have demonstrated that our brains have the ability to change their structure in response to experience and can do so at any age! Scientists have found that experience activates neurons and that connections among activated neurons can be strengthened.
- When we use our intention to pay attention in a particular way, we are actually sculpting the brain itself. Every thought that we have activates the brain’s circuitry, which can strengthen other synaptic linkages in those areas. Because neurons that fire together wire together, new neural connections can be created in our brains and old ones can fall away, based upon what we focus on repetitively. Ultimately this means that we can change our earliest programming and create new neural pathways in our brains by mindfully and repetitively focusing our attention on the positive changes and beliefs that we seek in our lives and away from what we fear and do not want.