BREAKING A HABIT,
MAKING A HABIT – DAY 7
How fast do you expect yourself to change? How much pressure do you put on yourself NOT to be who you are? How little do you like the person you are ?
Today’s task is to spend some moments reflecting on this question: How long has the old habit been in place?
It can be extremely helpful to consider how entrenched the old habit is. Habits repeat… Suddenly here we are again, accidentally lost in our favourite ‘bad behaviour’. That is, mind elsewhere, body engrossed.
How well does the body perform this habit without the mind even realising it is happening? Re-writing hard drives takes time. And patience. And resilience, and some endurance. Thinking about the history of the habit can give us a road map for changing it.
Decide how long it might take to get the new habit into place. I would suggest, as a rough guide, allowing yourself a solid week of repeatedly interrupting the old habit and replacing it with the new one. Then some further weeks, checking and refining the process.
During this first week, support is needed. And rewards for work well done!
• Firstly, if it’s hard to notice the old habit until it’s too late, then start the protocol (see Day 6 of this course) at fixed times in the day. Making these ‘habit slots’ in your day reinforces the new habit!
• Stick Post-it notes to the kettle, fridge, loo, bedside lamp, steering wheel for support
• Put a pinger on your phone to remind you to do the protocol 5 times a day (1 minute each time).
• Try practising the protocol at each meal time and bed time.
The more you do the new habit, the easier it gets to notice the old habit and replace it. So, week 2 might need fewer fixed ‘habit slots’, but more ‘spontaneous habit shooting’ (I imagine I’m shooting ducks at the fairground!) You might use the ‘spontaneous habit shooting’ game for another two weeks.
To keep yourself on track, perhaps add a calendar appointment with yourself on a Monday morning and a Friday afternoon. Check in and reflect, how has the week of habit-switching been going for you?
Think about how you will reward yourself for a week’s habit-switching well done. And give yourself a final huge reward when you feel you have arrived in a new relationship to the habit, and to the underlying emotion that was driving the old way of being.
You have now completed month 1 to a new life!
It takes strength and resilience not to give up. If friendliness to the old habit wears thin, offer friendliness to this impatient part of you. When you find the old part of you accidentally back with the habit, just begin again. Each time you begin again, it reinforces the new habit.
Lastly, remember: if a habit has been in place for a few years, it will take lots of repetition to re-programme the brain so that the new habit becomes second nature.
This course built a protocol for overwriting the old hard-drive files where the habit is embedded, and replacing it with new, more enjoyable, behaviours. In other words, making a new habit. We might call this ‘habit-switching’. And we might consider ourselves to be on a habit-switching ‘intensive’!
John O’Donohue: For a new beginning
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
From ‘To Bless the Space Between Us’ (US) / Benedictus (Europe)
Ordering info: https://www.johnodonohue.com/store
Download Tick Chart PDF