For me, when I’m learning a new habit, integrating the new habit is not always the most challenging part.
Often, pressing the ‘pause’ button, to notice when I go toward the old habit, is the most challenging part. Often, when I’m teaching a client to ask themselves, “Am I Hungry?,” before they eat (just to find out if they are actually physically hungry, or if they are just craving to eat) the first thing we work on, the first week, is the noticing: noticing when the urge to eat hits, noticing the hunger level, noticing the thoughts at the moment that urge comes, noticing the feelings and emotions. For me, the magic is in the noticing.
In my own experience, this is also the most frustrating step, because after all, those darn habits are so habitual that I can be halfway through an old habit pattern before my conscious awareness even realizes it!!
You see, our habits exist in our subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is like a tape recorder. It records our thoughts and beliefs and plays them over and over and over. Those thoughts and beliefs become actions and repetitive actions become habits. It doesn’t stop to decide whether an action is good or bad. It functions automatically. The subconscious part of your mind is operating whenever you are doing any kind of activity that you’ve done many times such as driving a car or getting dressed in the morning. And thank goodness because can you imagine if every time you went to take a shower it were as if you’d never done it before? What if you had to think, “OK, now put your hand out. Next, open the shampoo bottle. Now turn it upside down and squeeze it?” We rely very much on the subconscious mind. I invite you to think of the subconscious mind like a garden and you are the gardener. The seeds that we plant in it are our thoughts that we think repetitively. Those repetitive thoughts and beliefs lead to our repetitive behaviors.
One way that we can interrupt a repetitive pattern is to bring awareness to it, to notice it.
I like to think of curiosity and awareness as the ‘magic wand’ of transformation and change. So, when you are beginning your journey of moving beyond a habit that no longer serves you, begin with noticing. Then move to curiosity. Allow yourself time and give yourself lots of grace. If you find you are halfway through (or all the way, for that matter) a habit before you notice what you are doing, it’s ok, just notice, without judgment and allow yourself to be human. Set your intention to notice sooner the next time. And soon, you’ll be noticing the urge to participate in the habit and this is where the magic really begins!
Non-judgmental awareness … noticing … is transformative on so many levels.
And if a part of you is resistant to the noticing, allow yourself to be willing to notice. Or, go further and allow yourself to be willing, to be willing, to be willing to notice. Start where you are. If you are resistant, try setting an intention to notice and become curious about the resistance. What does it feel like? What are your thoughts? Where is it in your body? Is there an emotion you can sense? What might it say if it had a voice? What is it that I am truly hungry for? What do I want from this habit that it really can’t give to me? What would I have to feel if I didn't engage in this habit right now? How is this habit serving me? How is not serving me? What might happen if you simply welcomed the resistance and sent love to the part of you that is resisting, and just start there? Notice what you find without judgment, or if you have judgments, just notice those too. Acknowledge them as judgments rather than truths! Welcome them, all of it, as messengers, here to assist you in the process of your transformation, of allowing your True Essence to shine brightly.
Most importantly, have fun. Curiosity tends to bring a sense of playfulness and that's a good thing!
So, how does resistance and self-sabotage show up for you? What have you found helpful? Comment below. I'd love to hear from you!