Have you been trying to change a habit for years, but can’t seem to? Here are 14 powerful techniques that can help.
The biggest reason why it’s so hard to change our habits is because, as we all know, they are so ingrained in us. More specifically, they’re ingrained in our subconscious mind.
And the thing is our subconscious mind is 95% more powerful than our conscious mind. If you want to know more facts like this about our subconscious mind, here is a recent article with ten of them:
So, if you really want to change a habit, getting to the programming in your subconscious mind is so much better than only working on the ‘outside’ stuff, as I like to call it.
Let me give you an example of the outside stuff. Say Jane wants to lose weight. She heads to the internet to look up the latest diet info. and to get some recipes. She heads to the market for some healthy food. She heads to the gym to work out. Etc. All great. All outside.
But, there’s one important place she hasn’t headed to. Inside to her programming.
Sure, it’s definitely possible for Jane to lose weight without intentionally working on her programming. That’s how most of us go about it anyway and it does work sometimes. But, it’s also going about it the hard way.
And if Jane starts making some progress this way, she might start feeling better about herself. She might start saying to herself, “I think I can do it this time.” She might even start picturing herself wearing those sexy skinny jeans in the back of her closet.
Do you know what happened at that point? She started going inside without even realizing it. Our feelings; our thoughts and the words we say to ourselves; and the pictures in our mind – are all the ways we start getting inside – to the programming in our subconscious mind.
When this starts happening, momentum begins working in our favor. As Abraham Hicks explains momentum – we start flowing downstream, instead of bucking up against all the resistance we’ve had for years on this subject.
Resistance is all the negative thoughts and feelings that have been standing in our way.
Can you see how much better it is for a person to work on both the inside and outside when they are trying to change a habit?
Here Are 14 Easy Ways To Get Inside To Your Programming And Change A Habit
Uncover Your Hidden Beliefs Around This Subject
Our beliefs deep inside are what are secretly running our lives. Negative beliefs we formed a long time ago, usually when we were very young, are often what we’re still operating out of.
A young girl, for example, begins comparing herself to others once she gets to school. Consequently she concludes that she’s not ‘as good’ as others in different ways.
She keeps telling herself this everyday as (false) evidence of it’s truth seems to be all around her. So this belief gets cemented in her mind.
And she could end up carrying this absolutely false, bogus belief around with her well into her adulthood – if she doesn’t uncover it, refute it and replace it.
She might know on a conscious level that she is enough just the way she is and that comparing herself to others isn’t necessary. But underneath on a subconscious level, those old beliefs are still lurking.
- Get a sheet of paper out and write the habit you want to replace at the top of it.
- Begin listing some beliefs you already know you have around this subject.
- Now get quiet for a few minutes and call up some memories you have around this subject. They could be memories from way back when or more recent ones.
- Can you uncover any hidden beliefs associated with those memories? If so, list them on the paper.
- Take out a second sheet of paper and write the habit at the top again.
- One at a time, take each belief you wrote on the first paper and think about why this belief is untrue and how it’s been hurting you around this subject.
- Give yourself a good pep talk. Tell yourself some things you wish someone would have told you back then, for instance.
- Now for each negative belief, write out a new positive belief. Make sure it feels authentic to you.
- In other words, you don’t have to be Tony Robbins here. If one of your negative beliefs is that you don’t feel confident about yourself, for example, you don’t have to write, “I’m the most confident person in the world!”
- That wouldn’t be authentic to you and it wouldn’t feel right. Just make it something like, “Little by little, I can become a more confident person.”
Create Affirmations For Yourself
Take each new belief you wrote above and make it into an affirmation that you can begin installing into your subconscious mind.
For instance, change the beliefs: “I’m not worthy.” and “I’ll never be able to change.” to: “I am worthy!” and “I know I can do this!”
This might sound corny. But wouldn’t you tell your son or daughter how worthy and capable they are? Start telling yourself these things.
Many of us have created a lifelong habit of criticizing ourselves, of putting ourselves down, of not accepting ourselves. But, we can change this – little by little – to self love and self acceptance. (This alone is life-changing!)
You’re not done yet, though. You’ve got to use the power of repetition. Our affirmations aren’t meant to be just cute statements we say to ourselves a few times.
We have over 60,000 thoughts a day. Do you know how many times you’ve thought those negative beliefs? A lot! Thousands and thousands of times through the years. That’s the kind of numbers you’re dealing with.
Keep repeating your new affirmations to yourself throughout the day. If you’re not familiar with the practice of saying affirmations, here are four of my articles to get you started.
You could also write them on post-it notes and stick them in different places, so your subconscious mind will take them in, even when you’re not saying them. Just keep sneaking them in. They’ll slowly be getting installed as new beliefs.
Start Replacing The Negative Images You Have of Yourself
Spend a few minutes three times a day relaxing your body, quieting your mind, closing your eyes, and then picturing yourself three months from now. Or one month or six months from now.
It doesn’t matter. Just picture yourself having made strides in changing your habit. What does the scene look like? What are you doing in it? How do you feel?
Picture yourself in different scenes, for instance: at work, in your new job or business, at home, at the gym, on that vacation, etc. etc. etc. Whatever feels great.
Get creative. You really can’t get it wrong.
Intentionally creating new images like this is powerful. Because we also operate out of the images in our minds. And the images you’ve had around this subject have no doubt been negative for a long time.
Keep in mind that it’s perfectly fine if you don’t see vivid pictures when you close your eyes and visualize this way. It all still works.
Start Anchoring Powerful, Positive Feelings To Your New Habit
Two ways to do this are when you say your affirmations and when you visualize yourself in different scenes.
Add fresh, new, strong feelings to both of these practices. This will begin overpowering all the negative self talk, images, and feelings you’ve had for so long around this subject.
Here’s a way to bump this up even more. Combine your affirmations and visualization with good physical activity. Do them when you’re exercising, walking or jogging outside in the fresh air, blasting music, dancing, singing, etc.
Think this is silly? Picture famous actors, actresses, musicians, athletes, and entrepreneurs for a minute. Think of the passion on their faces when we see them in interviews and they’re talking about their journeys.
Picture the determination on a pro athlete’s face, for instance, when we see glimpses of him working out. That passion – is feelings and energy. And it’s the fuel we need to transform ourselves.
Start Praising and Rewarding Yourself Around This New Habit
I touched on this point above, when I mentioned how we tend to criticize ourselves.
Think of how we talk to little kids when they’re learning a new skill. We praise them to the hilt – and they thrive!
Can you imagine not praising a child this way? Just being all serious and drab? How do you think they would do?
But, this is how we treat ourselves. Time to change it around.
You don’t have to talk to yourself like a wittle kid in a silly voice. Just think how you would support and encourage a friend if they needed it.
Work On Your Self Confidence Through Your Body Language
Author and Speaker Amy Cuddy teaches power poses to change our programming and become more confident.
Before a test in college, she would go into the bathroom for a minute and do the bear pose. These physical movements of making her body big and strong for a few moments like this would actually change the wiring in her brain – and she’d do better on the test.
We can use this concept not just before stressful events, but all throughout the day to change our level of confidence.
Just think how much better it feels when you carry yourself a tiny bit taller, for instance. When you consciously straighten your back if you catch yourself slouching, for instance.
And it’s not about trying to impress other people. It’s to impress upon your subconscious mind new feelings and new beliefs about yourself. Over time, it helps change your programming.
Throw Out Old, Worn Out Excuses
I have a chapter on this in my first book Simply Being Happy. It’s based on Author Brian Tracy’s funny analogy of how the disease of excusitis is so rampant.
He had guessed that 80 percent of the population has this disease. And we all live on ‘Someday Isle’ as he puts it.
“Someday, I’ll conquer that habit.”
“Someday, I’ll make that change.”
“Someday, I’ll go for that goal.”
Tracy said people on the island like to sit around and talk about their favorite topic – swapping excuses for being on the island.
“I didn’t have a good childhood.”
“I didn’t get a good education.”
“No one appreciates me.”
Your job is to figure out what excuses you’ve been holding onto and then start throwing them out.
“The first rule of success is simple. Vote yourself off the island.” Brian Tracy
Get Out Of The Hood
This was the next chapter in my first book. Tracy says to vote yourself off the island. And I like to say, “Move out of the hood.” Victimhood.
It goes a step further than just lame excuses. Victimhood is the mass mentality that’s so easy for us to get caught up in. It’s the anger and blame we place on our past, on our bosses, on the politicians, on the weather, on whatever else we can think of at times.
There’s just no place for it in a really happy life. The best thing to do is start separating yourself – from these conversations, these people, these posts on social media, etc.
Reframe Your Stories
We all live out of the stories we’ve been telling ourselves. The funny thing is studies have proved that a huge percent of the stories we’ve been telling ourselves are actually false. They’re made up.
One of the reasons for this is because we all see the world and interpret it through our own ‘colored’ glasses.
This isn’t to say that awful things or unfortunate circumstances didn’t happen to a person. Or that they should pretend it didn’t happen.
But, we can change the narratives. Because being stuck in these narratives is what blocks our happiness – and our progress forward in life.
We might have been helpless to what was going on around us as young kids, for example. But, we’re not now.
Come up some new stories for yourself to operate out of. Make them more empowering and optimistic, for example. Get creative. Make yourself the hero of your new stories.
If you want to read more about this, here’s an interesting article on The Stories We Tell Ourselves by Thomas Henricks, Ph.D. in Psychology Today.
Find Role Models to Emulate
We often have people we look up to who’ve accomplished what we want to accomplish ourselves. They inspire us. The problem is we don’t take this any further.
Just being inspired by someone isn’t going to change our deep ingrained programming. Instead, really study people you admire. And then start doing what they do.
Figure out what they did to accomplish their goals, for instance. Figure out what their daily habits are. Figure out how they think. Etc. Then start doing these things yourself.
These role models can be people you know, someone at work, a neighbor, the owner of a business you frequent. It can be famous people. It can even be fictional characters. It doesn’t matter.
Just start noticing little things about them that you can work on in yourself. Their attitude maybe; the words they speak; how they carry themselves, etc.
This might sound a little stalkerish if it’s someone you see in person. But, we actually all do this anyway in one way or another. It’s human nature to study each other. And we all usually take on the qualities of the people around us.
You can just start doing this more intentionally to uplevel yourself and help achieve your goals.
Hire a ‘Virtual’ Coach
Can’t afford a real coach to help you change that habit? Here’s the next best thing.
Say you want to lose weight. Wouldn’t it be great to have Jillian Michaels as your personal coach?
Do this fun little practice every morning when you first get up or when you’re getting ready for work. Imagine for two minutes that she is there with you giving you a pep talk for the day.
What would she tell you? How would she motivate you?
This might sound really wacky to you – using your imagination this way. But, we actually have imaginary conversations with people all the time. It’s natural. It’s just not something we need to pay attention to.
And secondly, Napoleon Hill, the famous author of the book Think and Grow Rich – one of the best success books of all time – had an imaginary meeting every night with a group of famous men he called his counsel.
He knew this wasn’t real. He wasn’t trying to metaphysically connect with these men. It was a way to really use his mental faculties, as he put it.
I say if it’s good for Napoleon Hill, it’s good for anyone. And it’s amazing the insights and motivation you can get when you stretch your imagination like this.
Write Two Special Letters
This is another imaginative exercise that might seem cute, but it’s actually powerful in its own way.
For the first letter, imagine it’s exactly one year from today and it has been an amazing year. You’ve been working on changing this habit and have made great progress.
Write this imaginary letter to a friend or family member. (You’re not actually going to give it to them.) Tell this person all about your past year.
How you’ve been able to accomplish this; the strides you’ve made through the months; what it all has meant for you; etc.
For the second letter, imagine it’s five years from now. Tell them all the ways your life has improved because you’ve changed this habit.
Here’s a secret. You don’t have to actually write out this letter. You can just think it out in your mind.
Connect With Your Future Self
For this exercise, have an imaginary conversation for a few minutes with your future self.
She has overcome this habit and then some. She has come so far. She’s accomplished a lot in these past few years and has some insights to share with you.
What would your future self tell you? What advice would she give you? What does she look like? What does she do? How does she do it? Etc., etc.
If having a full blown conversation in your mind with your future self is too strange for you, just picture yourself five years from now having achieved all your goals.
Write out or think of all the details. What are you like? What is your life like now?
Say ‘thank you’ every day for everything associated with this habit.
Make sure to include being grateful for things in your past, in your present, and in your future.
Gratitude really is the great multiplier, as Author Rhonda Byrne says. Fill your days with gratitude and watch your life turn around.
Thanks for reading!
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