Yesterday’s deep dive on how negative self-dialogue is detrimental to progress and change may have gotten a little heady or too scientific for some, but it was beneficial for at least one, which means it needed to be shared. Today’s follow-up may be equally heavy for some, but I sense it also needs to be shared. “Being patient and viewing each decision as a new beginning (rather than the following Monday, or the following day), was the second way I began cooperating with God, and began to move towards the God given vision and convictions I held in my heart.
From a psychological standpoint, most habits (brushing our teeth, taking a shower, sleeping in, grabbing unhealthy foods, etc.), are unconscious and automatic, which may leave one to conclude they are helpless and powerless to change them. In order to begin the process of changing the habit, we have to shine the light on the habit so to speak, begin to think about why we do what we do (those things we WANT to change) and activate the conscious thinking part of our brains. Let’s go back to yesterday for a second, the conscious thinking or higher part of our brains, can actually be shut down with negativity, because of the stress hormones negativity produces in the brain. This may be a reason why negative dialogue was dealt with first, it physically frees the mind to think in a higher order and begin to re-frame and address habits in our lives.
As we become less negative, and more able to process our habits in a more conscious fashion we can then choose not to feed the subconscious aspect of the behavior, by reinforcing it more. So when we say, “Oh, I messed up today, I’ll start again tomorrow”, we are feeding the habit’s subconscious hold on our lives. Worse yet, if we tell ourselves, “I’ll start next Monday”, and it’s only Wednesday, we’re giving our minds four more days to believe the current habit is actually more the reward than the new behavior we would like to live out. Consciously addressing EACH decision causes us to be mindful of our habits, increasing the reward of the new behavior, and decreasing the strength and reward of the old behavior. This is where patience comes in, because our negative thoughts aren’t going to go away overnight (mind didn't anyway), especially if it is a habit we have lived with for some time. Plus, the habit is a habit for a reason, and giving in will happen.
However, the more we try to be more positive and more conscious the more we are reinforcing what we hope to live. Once we get to a point where we have lived out the desired habit, rather than the undesired habit, for twenty-one continuous days, the new habit becomes established in our minds. Once we have done so for ninety days, the new habit becomes deeply engrained in our brains, finally becoming the reward, rather than the dream. Perhaps this is why the Whole30 program is thirty days, to help people establish healthier eating principles. Perhaps this is why our challenge is forty-five days, to have a collective group of women supporting one another to reach the half-way point (Hey! We are eleven days in, we only have ten more to go for healthier eating to be established in our minds!) of creating deeply engrained habits involving devotions, eating well and exercising. After all, we need as much prayer, encouragement, and positivity as we can get as we embark on our lives changing.
Of course the best support (and truly where success in changing is derived) comes from God, which is where we’ll go tomorrow.
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