When Groundhog Day stops being funny!!
Most of us raised a smile or a chuckle at the 1980’s film Groundhog Day when Bill Murray’s character, Phil Connors, is stuck living Groundhog Day (2nd February) over and over. But if, like Phil Connors, you feel that you are stuck in a rut or can’t change an old habit it’s not so funny.
When we repeat a habit we follow a neural pathway in our brain similar to walking the same path across a meadow repeatedly.
The more often we do something the more it gets physically wired into our brain. Whether our thoughts or habits are helpful to us or not they form connections in our brains that lead us to react in the same way, doing or thinking the same thing again and again, Just like poor old Phil Connors.
If we repeatedly worry about something, bite our fingernails, eat or drink too much, smoke, hit the gym, ride a bike to work etc. we become programmed to do the same again and again.
But …. the good news is ….
We can change habits by changing the neural pathways in our brains - by making a new path across the meadow.
Contrary to what was believed, it has been scientifically proven that our brains can change in response to our experiences, behaviours, emotions and even thoughts throughout our lives.
You’ve probably heard that it takes 21 days to form a new habit.
Unfortunately, that’s false. The amount of time it takes to change behaviour depends on what we’re trying to do and can range anywhere from 3 weeks to months or even longer.
Changing behaviour isn’t easy, but it can be done, and our brains can help us. Here’s how:
- Know your triggers – Determine what motivates you to perform a habit and avoid it.
- Find ways to reduce stress – Bad habits are usually coping mechanisms.
- Pay attention – You’ll change your behaviour more easily if you engage your prefrontal cortex by actively paying attention.
- Start small – Changing your behaviour requires willpower. Willpower is a lot like a muscle; It gets tired and depleted.
- Use your imagination – Consciously think about how your life would improve by changing your behaviour.
- Celebrate the small victories – Focusing on minor changes along the way helps you stay motivated.
- Surround yourself with the right people – Whatever habit you want to make or break, it will be easier if you have people around who encourage you.
If however you’re struggling to escape from Groundhog Day why not give me a ring to find out if Solution Focussed Hypnotherapy could help.
Why will only 20% of us be sticking to our new year resolutions by mid – February?
It's that time of year when we’ve made our new year's resolutions and we’re committed to changing our lives for the better in 2019.
Whatever the resolution, eat healthier, drink less, exercise more, spend less, change our job etc. research shows that despite our best intentions only around 20% of us will still be sticking to our resolutions by mid-February.
On a dark cold winter's evening, it's easy to slip and find yourself back where you started - on the couch with a large glass of wine and a takeaway.
Why do we do the things that we know aren't good for us?
Why is it so hard to find motivation for doing the things that we know we should?
The answer lies in how our brains work.
One part of your brain, your conscious mind, is attached to a vast intellectual resource, your intellectual mind.
When we operate from this part of the brain we find it easier to do the things that we know we should - like eating healthily, exercising, saving money etc.
Now, being completely logical about it we fully understand the benefits of sticking to the New Year's Resolution we've made - after all that's why we've made them.
So why is it so difficult?
Why do we find ourselves in the ready meal aisle, instead of exploring the vegetables?
Why can't we find the time to go to the gym - when we've paid for that expensive membership?
Sound familiar? So why is that?
Well there is another part of the brain, the original primitive part - the part which, going back to the days of the caveman, has been responsible for our survival at the most basic level.
The central and influential part of this brain, the Amygdala, is often referred to as the fight/flight/depression area of the brain. When we feel threatened, for example by change, our anxiety level may creep up and to a greater or lesser extent we lose intellectual control and the primitive brain takes over.
In this way the brain can end up in a bit of battle with itself.
Our conscious intellectual mind knows that the changes we have planned are good for us, but unfortunately the primitive subconscious part of our brain, which let's remember is responsible for our survival, really does not like change and will resist what the intellectual mind has planned.
It works on the principle that if what we did yesterday kept us safe it would be best if we did the same again today. And that includes continuing bad habits which may be damaging our long term health and wellbeing.
It also encourages us to think negatively and see things from the worst possible perspective - this is a survival mechanism. Because of this it will encourage us to avoid new situations which may, in its view, constitute a threat to our survival.
And this is where Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help. In hypnotherapy we use trance - a state in which we can bring the conscious and subconscious mind together to focus on the positive change you would like to achieve.
In this state we can work to resolve the battle and take back control for the conscious mind, helping you to really make that New Year's Resolution a reality.
Not sure if hypnotherapy is for you?
Call 07954 177649 for a free, confidential discussion or e-mail your question