How many of you reading this months newsletter have tried using willpower to break old habits and form new ones? ”I can lose these last 5 lbs. if I just don’t eat dinner.” or “I will use willpower to stop smoking”. This usually doesn’t work and here’s why:
Willpower is controlled by a part in the brain called the orbital frontal cortex (part of the frontal lobe located in the front of the brain). In order for the orbital frontal cortex to be turned on it requires an active focus. So one may ask how is this a bad thing? Let me explain…
If I say to you “Don’t think of a pink elephant.” what are you most likely to do? Think of a pink elephant. Therefore, each time you think to yourself “Don’t eat the chocolate chip cookies.” You’ll want to eat the chocolate cookies. Before you know it you’re giving into the chocolate chip cookies and thinking of yourself in a negative manner for not having the willpower to say “No”.
Instead what needs to happen is that new good habits need to be formed by changing your beliefs, values & expectations. This happens by improving your ability to identify a negative behavior, emotion or thought before it actually takes place. If you are able to identify the bad habit before it take place then you are in a position for a new good habit to be formed.
Remember this…bad habits cause immediate benefit but long-term harm with repetition. Good habits cause immediate benefit and long-term benefit.
1. Don’t deprive yourself. Depriving yourself fits the model of “don’t think of the pink elephant” as described above.
2. Start out small & be gentle with yourself. Don’t expect things to change overnight.
3. Recognize and honor that making new habits take time as bad habits are engrained in your subconscious memory and take awhile before they are pulled to the conscious brain.
4. Surround yourself with opportunities & people who share the same goals. We tend to think, act and feel like those around us.
5. Identify where your bad habits are coming from…overworked, lack of boundaries, emotional stress or a childhood issues etc…once you’ve identified where the bad habit is coming from it helps to make sense of why your doing your bad habit.
6. Enrich your life, manage your stress and find yourself a support system. Replenishing Soul & ABS Fitness are always here for you!
References: Institute for Brain Potential
Pic by: http://dericbownds.net/uploaded_images/orbitofrontal.gif