Have you ever tried to change a habit of yours or even just a regular behavior that you do? It was difficult for you at best. You might have even given up on it before too long because you kept sliding back to your old ways. There’s a good reason for that, and I’ll tell you why.
As you read through the rest of this article you’re going to have a better understanding of how your mind works, and why you do the things that you do without thinking. These things are called habits. We create habits to help us get through the day. These habitual behaviors are responsible for most of the things we do without any conscious thought. Which hand you use to hold your knife, which foot gets your sock first, what thought pops into your mind when the phone rings. All pre programmed behaviors that have no reliance on any conscious decision making.
And all of that is a great benefit for you. If you were bogged down with having to make a choice with everything you do, you’d get even less done than you already do. So while our unconscious behaviors are being processed automatically, our conscious processes continue. We can think about what we’re going to do in the next few hours, who we need to speak with, what letter or email we need to answer. All the things that do need some decision making in order to respond properly.
We originally created those habits by learning the behaviors consciously. Think about the first time you put on a sock. You probably struggled getting the sock spread apart at the opening enough to get your toes inside. You might’ve even caught a couple of very little toes on the outside as the the rest of your little toes slid in. You might have rolled around on the floor as you lost your balance with your little leg up in the air.
That was all conscious effort. But getting dressed is a daily requirement. And you repeated this process daily on a conscious level. Until one day magically, you stopped thinking about it. You just did it! What happened was that the part of your mind that keeps your habits decided that this behavior must be important because you’re doing it all the time. And it’s the same. There’s no need to have to choose or make a decision about this behavior, it just needs to get doe. So that part of your mind allowed this behavior to become a habit. And it remained there.
So to make something a habit you need to do it repeatedly over and over again. In the case of putting on your socks, you might have to wait weeks for that to become a habit because you usually only put on your socks once a day. But what if you did it 10 or 20 times a day? would that make the habit creation faster? Yes it would! But that would be cumbersome and time consuming still. We could use our mind to make the process extremely fast.
It has been shown that when we imagine something with enough vividness our body’s response is the same as if we are actually doing it. So we can mentally rehearse any behavior and our body will practice doing that behavior as if it is actually happening. How do we do it vividly enough? With self hypnosis, that’s how!
Self hypnosis is a way of using your mind more effectively. Here’s a quick and simple example. Sit in a chair. Keep your arms and legs uncrossed, and make sure that you are comfortable. Breath in deeply two or three times and then close your eyes. Using your imagination, imagine yourself doing some behavior that you would like to make part of your routine. See yourself doing that behavior as vividly as possible. Add in the different senses to your imagined behavior. What it looks like, sounds like, smells like, tastes like, feels like. And keep imagining that behavior being performed by you over and over until you’ve spend about 3 minutes doing that. Bring yourself out of this daydreaming like state, and notice how comfortable you feel.
Take that process and do it a few more times during the day. Remember, repetition is the process that creates habits, so the more often you do this the quicker this behavior will become your new habit.