Changing your habits
Change Your Thinking
You can't start a new chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the past ones!
If you always think and do what you’ve always thought and done, you’ll always get the same results! Nothing will change till your thinking does.
Albert Einstein, German physicist and developer of the theory of relativity, said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
And Marion Williamson, spiritual author and teacher of A Course in Miracles, said, You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.
So, as you think, so you get.
But how often do we stop and really think what that means?
Each of us has between 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day and the bulk of those, it’s said around 90%, are the same thoughts we had yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. Many are negative and filled with fear and doubt. We are creatures of habitual thinking.
Without changing your thinking in any way, the same thoughts will always lead to the same choices and the same results.
We may not be aware we are constantly making choices but we are –
from major life and work decisions to the daily habitual things we do
almost without thinking such as to clean our teeth, which paste and
brush to use, to how much water we drink, what we eat, who to call
and so on. Even which partners we choose; ask why some people
keep meeting new partners but the situation really never changes.
Your same choices will always lead to the same behaviours or actions.
And those same behaviours will always create the same experiences,
results, and outcomes.
And your same experiences will always trigger the same feelings,
And then those same emotions will feed and drive the same old t
houghts and the whole cycle begins again.
And to be technical for a moment those same thoughts affect our biology
ie our brain circuitry, our brain chemistry, our hormones and even our
For as long as your thoughts stay mostly the same, your biology (your body make-up if you like) will stay the same. So healing won’t take place without a change in your thinking.
How you think, then act, then feel, is you – it is your personality, and this is how your personality shapes and dictates your reality. Life doesn’t just happen to you. You play a huge part in shaping your life.
Time for a change?
So if you are unhappy with your current life, your present reality, you can’t just treat it
with pills and medications, chop a bit out here and there, and expect to be a whole happy
person again. You also have to change your thinking.
So if you are feeling sad and down today, ask yourself what thoughts are triggering those
feelings, and you’ll inevitably find that deep down they are to do with events in the past,
feelings of loss, or concern of the future. But is hanging on to those thoughts, ruminating
over them, regurgitating them, strengthening them through myelination (the process of
strengthening through repeating) – is that actually doing any good and does it have a place
in creating a different, more positive, more healthy future?
Most of our thinking, doing (behaving) and feeling is a habit – a habit playing out usually
at an unconscious level and acquired over time through frequent repetition.
Another way of defining a habit is something that your body has learned to do over time so
well that it no longer needs your conscious mind to tell you how to do it. Think riding a bike.
You get on, you fall off. You repeat, you learn and eventually the body just knows what to
do without you even thinking about it.
Overtime, in your brain, you bed in (as you would a new seed or plant) a circuitry that will
always tell your body to behave in a particular way; you are hard-wiring yourself through
repetition to create a new pattern of thinking and doing and feeling, creating a new
internal computer software programme.
What are we?
So overtime, our personality has become an identity of repeated and memorised responses
and behaviours, emotional reactions, unconscious, mostly unquestioned attitudes, beliefs,
perceptions, values, and ideas, that drive us every day as a piece of programme software in
our computer goes through the same routines each time we fire up. We are more robots
than robots themselves.
Here is another example – if I were at a pay terminal, at a check out, and someone asked me for my credit card number, I would have great difficulty remembering. I’d make an effort, then question my memory and more than likely then, get it wrong. But show me the key pad, and chances are I’ll type the number in straight away. This is because through repetition, my body, not my brain, has physically remembered the numerical sequence.
So is it a time for a change, a time to change your mind, to forge new streams of thinking?
If you take in new information or tell your brain something different, it literally
has to create a new “route” in the circuitry, like water running over a new terrain
often enough it cuts out a new stream. That becomes the new pathway.
The more you think the new thought, think ABOUT the new thought, think
about where and when and how to apply the new thought, then apply it, you are
strengthening this new route.
New choices lead to new behaviours. New behaviour lead to new outcomes and
experiences which lead to new emotions which in turn lead to new thoughts or eg
a reinforcing “I like this
new way of being!”
The challenge in all of the above is AWARENESS – to become conscious or aware of what
it is you are thinking that is creating your current reality. With awareness you can then inform
yourself as to how you would rather life were and then be open to change.
In 2015 my life hit an all-time low, nothing seemed to be working out, I was confronting major health challenges as were members of my family. My experience of various NHS trusts was not good and that reinforced my emotions of unhappiness, dissatisfaction and even annoyance. The more those feelings grew, the more annoyed I became and it felt like I was becoming addicted to things not working out, to suffering and pain, to criticism, each day thinking the same thoughts. Friends would say, “This is how it is, get used to it.” It may be how it is but it doesn’t have to stay that way. But I felt powerless to change, or so I thought. So it would roll – criticism, blame, complain, the same behaviours, which led always to emotions of guilt, getting no further forward, head against the proverbial brick wall. Until one day I simply had had enough. Something had to change and the only thing that I could change was me, my thinking, the lens through which I experienced the world.
It was T-Factor time!
But simply a decision to change is the first steps.
When you set about to change, your body is still preconditioned to behave in the old ways, the ways you’ve accustomed yourself to become. So even if you commit to change, your body will still send messages to the mind and the mind will think, “I am not sure about this. I’m not comfortable with this. This is not what I’m familiar with. Let’s delay a day or two.” Or it will come up with sundry other excuses and you will keep defaulting to the old way. You may start the new diet, then relapse. You may tell yourself you are brilliant, then the first set-back will knock you back.
So you re-commit to the new, and still it becomes uncomfortable and difficult.
But discomfort is no reason to give up? Discomfort is nature’s way of telling you that you are now in the process of change. Embrace it like a new friend.
Alas what most will do is give up too soon. Their mind will tell them “this is too difficult” “It is too uncomfortable” “it’s not working” (Gadzooks it took years to develop the old habit and you now want change as if by clicking a switch and in an instant you have changed and things have changed? Sorry, like a seed must be cultivated and nurtured, so too do your thoughts.)
So each time you go back to old thoughts and ways, and whilst there you “think” about what new thoughts you need for the future, you will not be in the right space to nurture those new seeds, let alone plant them.
New thoughts are best created when in the Gap of Discomfort – the GOD space, the space with grace.
That’s when to ask yourself some questions (and even just asking questions will get the old personality confused and discomforted, enough to break an old habit.) Ask yourself AND write down: -
How do I desire my life to be instead? What is the vision I hold of how I would prefer my life to be? If not this (the old) then what (the new!)
How would I prefer to feel? What are the healthier emotions I would rather have? Joy, bliss, happiness, feeling well?
What outcomes and experiences would I rather have? Being confident, successful, prosperous, achieving, making a difference, inspired, motivated?
What behaviours and actions would get me there?
What thoughts would support all of that?
What won’t work What will work
I am no good I have much to offer
I don’t deserve I deserve simply because I am
I am a bad x,y,z I am always doing the best I can
Bad things always happen to me From this day on, I attract only good
There’s no hope for better health I can turn my health around
Money comes in then just goes out I always have enough and then some, I am abundant and prosperous
Or try this for your unconscious daily mantra, constantly churning and eating away at you:-
I am unhappy, unhealthy, poor, unsuccessful, lacking, constantly ill, feeling less than, feeling trapped with no way out. OR
I am happy healthy wealthy, prosperous, successful, healed, whole, complete and vibrantly free.
Which would you rather believe?
Now, as the Director and Editor of your life, play this new more positive “movie” over in your imagination – you in your new life, new experiences, new more positive feelings, you taking action, and reapplying the thoughts that will get you there.
Like creating the new river, you are already beginning to create new pathways in your brain.
And the key is repeating this process until the body gets it – that this is the new you. Your brain, your body is now being conditioned or programmed to no longer defaulting and iving in the past but to manifesting the different future reality.
It is crucial that you identify with the new key positive emotions you will feel when the new has been brought around… and cultivate those feelings; what is it like to have an emotion of abundance, an emotion of success, of prosperity, being healthy, having good relationships and so on? Feel it? See it. Even hear it all in your imagination.
Then, without getting too technical, scientific, or medical about it, your body mind, which cannot tell the difference between a real event and imagined one (just think how scared you can get at a horror movie!) your body will then be living emotionally in the future instead of linking always to the past.
All the most recent researches in the fields of neuro science, psychoneuroimmunology, tell us that you can change the wiring in the brain just by thinking differently.
We’ve known this for decades, Louise L Hay said it when she said “Change your thoughts, change your life.” The wisdom teachers of old who gave rise to metaphysical sciences have known this for eons. But now we have scientific proof that when we change our thinking, and constantly give the changed thoughts our regular attention, connect to the emotion of the new experiences we desire, the brain will develop new pathways, flowing in that new direction.
As your body begins to believe that change has happened, it also begins to live “as if” it has happened. So imagine, it now believes in health, not disease, and it has to become health. But not in the way you necessarily imagine. So having changed and reinforced your new thinking, you need to take the foot off the pedal and allow, yes allow, the Universe to draw to you what is for your greater good.
This is you creating change from the inside out and when you see the results over time, you will want to keep repeating and developing the new.
Write down the following:-
Three thoughts and behaviours and emotions that are fixed in the past and that no longer serve you in the present.
I will never amount to anything.
This is a load of rubbish.
Nothing will change!
You hold back and do nothing because you believe you can’t amount to anything.
You don’t take risks, you don’t put yourself out there, you don’t apply for jobs, you turn down invitations to connect etc
You judge everything negatively, everything is rubbish, nothing pleases you
You make no effort to change, you act out your thoughts of “why even bother!” You blame life for your circumstances
Helpless, hopeless, critically negative, weary, tired, lethargic, depressed, listless, dejected, apathetic
Now be honest, is this really how you want your life to be?
Write down the new.
Three thoughts and behaviours and emotions that you wish to experience in your new life and that do serve you and help you be the best expression of you. Remember, this is how you desire your new life to be; it is not about how life is at present.
I have great potential, much to give, and now experience my best every day.
This is a exciting, really worthwhile, nurturing, inspiring, creative, energetic etc
Change is always happening. Change is possible. I make change happen.
I take control of my life and life circumstances. I make wise choices and wise decisions. I act as if I am successful, prosperous, healthy, whole and complete.
I do everything I need to do, including changing my thoughts, to manifest the life I desire. I remove all obstacles to my success and prosperity.
I see everything with freshness and positivity, I am grateful for even the slightest achievement, I gave gratitude for everything, even those experiences I once classed as negative.
Every day I apply myself to the business of my life, I face and find ways to overcome challenges, I accept responsibility for my life, I realise everything matters.
Able, hopeful, positive, energised, alert, enthusiastic, excited, lively, joyful, happy, glad. (Add in your own!)
Don’t wait for your new emotions to show up. Rehearse in your mind over and over again the new movie of your life – feel abundant now to become abundant, feel joyful to have a life of joy, feel what it is like to be healthy, successful and prosperous.
As you awaken, ask, “What would be the highest expression of me today?” Think it, see it, feel it and only get up when you truly feel it.
Remember, as you think, so you get.
Now take time, connect with all the new you have thought about. Visualise or imagine all that as now real.
Really connect with it. Constantly identify with your new thoughts, what you are doing differently, the different positive experiences and outcomes you are achieving, how that makes you feel, and really connect to the feelings. Create the movie, edit it if needs be, keep re-playing it and feeling it.
Repeat this process often and over time notice how new things begin to happen, your life changes, maybe in small ways to begin with, who knows.
You are planting new seeds, and by repeating the process, watering them and tending them until they bear fruit in their own natural time.
Meantime, to keep your brain noticing you mean business, that you are determined to bring about change, try the following too: -
When shopping, make a point of making contact with the checkout attendant, offering thanks or even a compliment.
Telephone a friend and enquire of their welfare
Count your blessings
Put up notes and visual reminders to make two positive statements each hour.
Choose to wear something different and maybe even a different colour each day
Change your morning routine to not having a routine, do things in a different order
Take time to meditate before starting the day
Take a different route to the shops; go to different towns and villages to do the shopping. Breathe in the new scenery. Use shops where there has to be some form of verbal communication with employees
Find ways to stimulate your thinking, doing something different
Practise the art of gratitude, of saying thanks in the moment every time there is even the tiniest thing to be grateful for and not waiting till the end of the day to tally your blessings
Go outside every couple of hours or so, open your arms up in the air, draw in deep breaths and say, at least three times, “I am open and receptive to all good.”
Spend 15 minutes reading an inspiring book, watching an inspiring video
Find a new project to study or participate in
Listen to inspiring music, write music, write – get creative
Cook a meal instead of having a take-away
Go for a short walk, keeping your head high, deliberately looking upwards and outwards
Drink or sip a glass of pure water each hour
Be involved in the community
Act as if – act as if you already were healthy, prosperous, successful, abundant, - mixing with “can do” people, having coffee in an up-market establishment, making sure you always have £50 in your wallet and feeling as if you can afford anything etc
And as they say in N.L.P (Neuro Linguistic Programming) keep asking, "What's the difference that will make the difference?"
Coming soon – a guided visualisation to help you step into the new.
There's a Hole in my Sidewalk
“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn't my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It's a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
I walk down another street.”
Training yourself in habit-changing
Genius . . . means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an inhabitual way. – WILLIAM JAMES
Attention is very much like a super trooper, the spotlight trained on performers on the stage, following them around. Attention is like searchlight or a torch – notice how when you are in a darkened room and switch on your torch, your eye follows where the beam leads. You hold the torch in such a way that it can be trained on any subject freely. That’s where your attention goes.
When we are caught up in some habit or compulsive, ritual way of behaving it means our searchlight or torch has become stuck; the beam is fixed in one direction. And after many years of being stuck like this, it is hard for us to believe that we can choose to turn the light in different directions and experience different things. We often believe that the habit or compulsion has become a permanent part of our personality. And when invited to change, we resist it so much our automatic response, “I can’t!” When what we really mean is, “In this moment I am not. I won’t.”
But gradually, we can learn to work our attention free. To develop a new point of sight, a new vision, a new end point.
It may mean shining the light on our shadow, our darkest recesses, the things we would rather not address. It may mean fixing our light on a wonderful new vision of a more health-filled us.
It may take some training – especially in the daylight without the need for a torch!
This exercise is to get yourself into the new habit of consciously focussing your mindfulness on having your attention of going where you now choose to have it go – to the light, and not the dark, to the positive instead of the negative, to thoughts and behaviours that inspire successful outcomes instead of dead end cul-de-sacs.
As an experiment, try to consciously ie intentionally, work cheerfully at some job you dislike: for me an example would be I dislike house cleaning. Oh, I do it, but not because I like it and certainly not cheerfully. This exercise had me train my attention to go where I chose to have it go and to do housecleaning with cheerfulness in mind. Imagine, down on my hands and knees, washing a floor and mindfully meditating on each nook and cranny, each swipe of the floor, each ring of the cloth, and saying “I am enjoying this. This is reaping rewards. My positive attitude results in positive actions. This exercise is also doing me good; it is health creating.” Even only one of those phrases will help.
Sometimes I get writers block; sometimes it is worse, I develop a real dislike of knowing I should be writing and being more productive. That focus of attention does not help. So, as the exercise say, I consciously ie intentionally, choose to cheerfully write. So instead of shining my torch on “I dislike this” I shine it on, “I feel good when I have completed the next few pages. I feel inspired by what I write. Others do too. I enjoy this subject matter. Writing becomes easy. All it takes is to get started and not necessarily at the beginning. Start with any thought and work from there. Just get started. I do this not because I should (ie onerous) be doing this but because I choose to. (Choice and joy.)” Sometimes it helps to get started writing anything but the piece I am meant to be writing.
Whatever you do, give it your best concentration.
Another good exercise is learning to just stop what you are doing, cease the resistance to it. Then, shift your attention to something else – listen to some music, go for a walk, make a nice herbal drink, read, anything that helps you re-energise and be inspired.
Another exercise is to consciously leave your work at work. It will still be there tomorrow – you may not be if you do not look after your health. Don’t let work follow you home and come into your social space like an untrained dog, barking at your heels.
I find Qi Gong useful – for it requires attention, attention on breathing, on attitude, on behaviours, on movement. And it is simple and can be done in about ten minutes.
All this reminds me of learning to play piano; the exercises are the spiritual equivalent of week by week practising my piano scales, then moving to simple piano pieces, thenlater to more complicated works. It was all about llearning to pay attention and as I did so, I was carving out and reinforcing muscular memory and memory in my neural pathways so that my brain knew just exactly what was required to perform a set piece. Sports men and women focus their attention, often through visualisation, before an event. Why not you? Well? Why not?