Changing Habits – Why It’s Easy and Difficult

Depending upon your age, habits may or may not feel like a train wreck if your head and body.  For those who are in their mid-twenties and younger, change will come more naturally and this makes sense because your brain is still experiencing a lot of new cells.  However, we all come to a point when the amount of new brain cells being made by our bodies decreases.  When this happens, changing our habits can be more challenging…but, it can also be easy!

Think of your entire brain as a schematic for how you live.  Our brain cells are connected in these patterns that correlate to our actions, habits, skills and so on.  The ones that are the most used are kept over time, even when we’re young.  But the reason that being young allows for quicker change in many respects is because our bodies know that there are a lot of new cells coming in so it is quite happy to kill off those that we don’t need any more!  When we’re older, we’re stuck with them for longer periods of time because they aren’t as likely to be replaced.  Though, I’ve personally found that there’s an exception to this and a danger in this knowledge.

Let’s start with the bad news: if you believe something and that belief undermines your intention and motivation toward change, then change is less likely to happen.  If you believe that you can’t change because you don’t have an influx of brain cells like younger people then you just created a self-fulfilling prophecy…you’re ensuring that change won’t happen!  This isn’t helpful.

Now for the good news: If you believe something and that belief touches upon firm conviction and a deeply held belief, change can be quite a bit easier.  Think of a belief (now isn’t that a fun statement to reflect on!) as one of the foundational patterns in your brain.  Think of a belief like the concrete base of a house.  It’s construction influences the rest of the house in small and big ways.

If your belief about what you’re going to change is deep enough, if you rework the foundation, you can change the rest of the house naturally.  So the trick in making change later in life is that you address the foundation in addition to changing your actually habits.  Just think about it.  Have you ever tried to make a change but didn’t really believe in it?  That you actually needed to do it?  How’d that go?  My guess is that it was more difficult and fraught with failure.  However, if you’ve made a change after some “aha” moment or realization that you were really invested in, wasn’t it easier?

Depending upon your style of learning and growth, talking about future change can be really helpful.  But be sure to look for someone that’s really open, accepting and can allow you the space to manage your choices.  They can’t control your brain or you…so you need them to support your independence because ultimately, it IS up to you!
Now it’s time for me to reflect upon some changes in my journal so I can do the same as you!

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