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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Make a List of All the Habits You Have Learned in Life

I want the list to include both what are considered to be good habits, like brushing your teeth twice a day, and bad habits, such as smoking. You can include in the habits things that you learned how to do- a skill- that you kept up, such as typing 60/wpm or filing papers. I want you to see & realize for yourself just how adept your brain is at learning habits already. Sometimes we do this out of sheer necessity. For example, when you get a new job position, you learn new habits because you have to in order to perform your job correctly. Pretty soon, what was once a challenging task becomes so mundane that you can do it while filing your nails & checking your email. Trust me, the ability is there to learn anew- you just may not have realized it.

You may have the false belief system still turning in a loop around your head saying, "An old dog can't learn new tricks. I'm set in my ways. I can't learn new skills. My bad habits will never change. I am who I am." You get my point. When you were first born, though, you didn't have this belief system- you learned it all as years went by. Therefore it's an incorrect belief or a whole belief system, because you can always change yourself & your habits. It's also usually a transparent belief system because you see through it, but you don't usually know you have these exact self-defeating things going through your mind. Usually it's much more subconscious than conscious, which makes them all the more difficult to root out & eliminate. But it can be done. Changing your belief isn't actually difficult to do- but it is usually something which takes repeated hearing, seeing & feeling. However, even a deeply-held belief can change in an instant. Ask anyone who believed the world was a safe place until a crime happened to them personally. Some events are so extreme that it changes your perception forever. That's an example of a new negative belief being formed, but it has a logical beginning to it. Even if it's a belief that doesn't serve you well, it doesn't mean it's totally illogical. A belief can be formed from the self, such as a positive one like "I am an organized person", or can come to be believed because of the words spoken by someone else, such as "You never do anything right!" It is a lifelong process to turn over all of the old self-defeating recordings we've got embedded in the brain into a mindset that forms a prescription for success. You have to really believe in something to see it bear fruit in your life- there's no faking out allowed here. You can say an affirmation for days on end in the mirror (as many self-help books used to encourage), but if your brain still thinks the exact opposite when it comes right down to it subconsciously, chances are you'll just continue to act on your old belief system. This is why people fail at what they think they want to do in life. It isn't often laziness- it'd old programming. You may have some old fear dangling in that brain of yours preventing you from taking on new challenges. The fears of injury, financial ruin, illness, gaining weight or loneliness are often the biggest drivers in sticking to old patterns. Or it may be that you don't really want to do what you think you should do. An example would be that you believe you should clean your home twice a week, when if you really got your wish, you'd have maid service come once a week to clean for you. People only have a certain amount of time, energy & money. You have to consider carefully where you put these resources, what's worth it & what's not in life. (And don't think you can just "not decide" & let life run itself- this is usually a one-way ticket to lifelong dissatifaction & waste.)

When resistance is hanging out in the brain, self-sabotage can occur frequently. Change takes stepping out in faith & it takes repetition of choosing the new over the old- whether it means beginning that first workout even though it feels torturous, leaving a bad relationship although that partner keeps you financially secure, standing up to your verbally-abusive parent despite being afraid to lose their love or asking your boss for a long-overdue raise even in the midst of an unsteady economy. After the first workout, each subsequent one gets easier. Your brain starts to literally form new paths inside. It isn't just that you're getting fitter- you are actually changing neurologically every time you repeat an action. You have to really know the reasons why a new belief has to work for you, and be willing to face setbacks & loss. It won't be easy every single time to make the right choice. It will be far more automatic over time, but you aren't a robot, so don't think it'll always be effortless. You also have to be able to visualize yourself during the change- seeing yourself perform the beginning actions needed for a belief alteration- and see the success achieved after the change has occurred. When you visualize yourself doing exactly the thing that you want, achieving the goal that you think about, and what you'll do once you've mastered the new belief system, you've got a better chance of adhering to it. And your brain in all it's mystery may actually light up an even more expansive path when you decide to change- thoughts can come up that you never dreamed of before. End your limitations, open your heart & expand your brain. You're worth all of that.

Here's to being a happy organized minimalist,

Liz

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