To hear the audio version of this blog, click here. We’ve all heard that change is hard. And you know what? It is.
From a research perspective, all the things we do on a day-to-day basis are wired in our brain. Little neural pathways have been formed and used over and over again. That’s what makes a habit a habit.
We learned how to drive a car by building neural pathways over and over again and now we can almost do it with our eyes closed. But, please don’t drive with your eyes closed. By practicing the act of driving a car, your brain responds by building little roadways inside of your brain. Each time you practice driving your car, that road gets more traveled and the brain remembers it. Over time, you don’t even have to think about it, you just do it. Now of course, if your car is an automatic and you are learning to drive a stick shift, you are going to have to learn how to do it and practice it. Over time, your brain will form more neural pathways so that you won’t have to think about how to drive the stick shift, you’ll just do it automatically.
As with any habit you’ve had over a long period of time, sometimes they have stopped serving you.
Like when you realize that arguing with someone over and over again about the same thing in the same way with no differing result still isn’t working.
Your habit might be for example, when you are upset with that person you yell at them. There is no thought process. You’re uspet, you yell, all in a split second. It’s so ingrained because of that deep neural pathway, you just do it automatically.
Then sometimes, you just make a decision.
A decision that says, ’this just isn’t working for me anymore’. Something has to change. It can almost be like having a light bulb go on, an aha, or an Ohhhhhhh, now I get it moment.
You first recognize, then decide, this has to change. And if you’re smart (and I know you are, because all of my readers are smart ;)) you know you can never change another person. The change you desire must come from you. You are the one who has to change if you want a different result in your life. You have to change you’re thinking, you’re feelings, and your action. But I hear you saying, “Susan, it’s so hard”. And it is. Because you have a habit, that neural pathway already exists in your brain for what you’ve always done.
Here’s the good news. Change does not happen overnight, but you can build a new neural pathway.
There are tons of books out there that talk about how many days it takes to form a new habit, 21, 48, 66. And here’s what I think. You are an individual. If you’ve had a habit for 30 years, I would guess it might take a little longer to break than a habit you’ve had for 2. I’m just saying…
Here’s what I do believe.
If you have made the decision to change something in your life, and it comes from a place of peace, love, and centeredness inside of you, though it may be challenging, it can be done.
Peace begets peace. Stress begets stress. Make the change by thinking new thoughts about the situation, feeling different feelings, and taking different actions. You will revert to your old habits at times. Don’t worry, you’re human. But be kind to yourself and begin again. You can build that new neural pathway on the way to a new more healthy habit.
You just have to make that decision.
Your Turn: I'd love to hear stories about how you've made changes stick. Leave a comment below, or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org
I am grateful to be able to spend some time with you virtually today. Thank you.
As always, take from here what works for you, share with your friends if you think they might benefit, and the rest you can leave behind.
Seeds of Kindness Bloom and Bloom and Bloom…