Can you make yourself change? Can you ‘set your mind’ to change and have it work?
If you are like most of us no – you can start a behavior change, but you’ll not going to keep it. Successful change occurs because you have enrolled your emotions and unconscious mind along with alerting your environment.
This NPR story explains why New Year resolutions don’t work. Nixon’s studies on heroin addicts in Vietnam showed that what was the biggest reason why 95% of the soldiers did not return to heroin was that they weren’t in Vietnam any longer.
If you want to keep your New Year resolutions:
- Feel and release the emotions behind the behavior you want to remove. If you want that large bowl of ice cream feel what emotional need are you attempting to fill? Are you lonely? If so, allow yourself to feel then release some of the loneliness. Even one minute of feeling the emotion and the physical analogue in your body can decrease your appetite.
- Notice what thoughts, feelings and behaviors occur when you start to do the undesirable behavior. Take a breath and ask yourself if there is a better way to fulfill that need. The need will likely remain. What you do with it can change.
- If you are doing it, shift how you are doing it. Eat that ice cream with you non-dominate hand. Sit in a different chair.
- Celebrate your wins. Use positive reinforcement to continue to produce the behavior you want. Let’s say you spent a minute feeling your loneliness and you only wanted half a bowl of ice cream – do something to acknowledge your win. You could put a red sticky on your calendar. Yes it’s silly, but it is something you don’t usually do. It will make your win stand out.
If heroin addicts can quit, you can keep your resolutions by going beyond your conscious mind. Cheat by tricking your mind by using your emotions, body, unconscious and environment to change.
Let us know how this works. Do you have ‘tricks’ to keep your resolutions?
Photo by Neurofibromatosis – Reggie Bibbs