Seven steps to creating new habits (part 2)

By John Brant | 20th October 2016
A group practising yoga outside in the sunshine

Last month we discussed the first few steps to mastering new habits (and getting back to our good habits!). Working alongside the theme of this month’s newsletter, a great habit to consider building into your life to balance the stress is to develop the habit of “Relaxing and Breathing”.

Here is a link to last month’s article (step 1). To recap, the first four steps to setting new habits are grounded in developing your awareness (step 1: getting clear on what you want and why, step 2: confirming the benefits of introducing a new habit), and setting yourself up to win (step 3: looking for congruency with what is important to you and others and step 4: how to create an unconscious habit). This month we follow up with three final steps of putting your new habits into practice in the long term. In the final section of this article, we also touch on the art of hypnosis, a great method to understand and use if you are dedicated to self-mastery.

Putting it into Practice Long Term

We have focused on the short term strategy to getting you focused on your habit change. Most of us can recall times that we have been able to change our habits for a few hours, days and even weeks – but the pull of our old habits can be hard to resist in the longer term. Why is this? It is because our old habits served a purpose (you may have already uncovered this in step 1 of the process). It is wise to make changes with full awareness and an understanding that there may be unexpected challenges or situations that can pull you back.

Step 5. Having a balanced perspective with yourself

To set long term habits you must be realistic. Unless you are willing to make a step change in your friends and/or family/social environment, you are going to be subject to temptation. Whether or not you are seduced is not the most important thing. What matters is that we understand our own choices consciously. If we are seduced by something, then we consciously or unconsciously perceive there to be more benefits than drawbacks from taking the action.

Often the pleasure of the action over the short term (eg eating that bar of chocolate) can tempt us to ignore or overlook the downsides in the long term (eg putting on weight). Therefore, the longer your time horizon is and the further ahead you can envisage, the easier it will be to forsake immediate gratification for longer term benefit.

Humans have a special ability to think long term, so activate this right now by writing 50 benefits of your new habit in the long term. Include how it will benefit you financially, emotionally, spiritually, and how it might help you with relationships and your health. Think about how it might benefit you in 10 years, 20 years and even 50 years’ time! The broader you see the benefits across all areas of your life and the longer impact time horizon you can become aware of, the more likely the habit changes you seek will stabilize and become more permanent.

Step 6. Reassess regularly

Life changes, so it can be wise to reassess your priorities regularly. For most people, there is a general shift in priorities over time as we get older but there can also be step changes that significant life events (eg marriage, children, financial problems). All of these can lead to changes in habits. A great way to think of a habit is something that you automatically do without anyone having to remind you.

Some new “distracting” habits can form that take our time, money or energy away from where we want to go in the long term. These are usually habits based upon “surrender” or “sacrifice” based upon other’s wishes. Under these circumstances it can be wise to reconfirm the benefits and drawbacks of the habit you want to crystalize (using techniques already described) but also uncover the unconscious benefits of the new (distracting) habit. With this information you can then make wiser choices about how you want to proceed.

Step 7. Advanced work with the unconscious mind

In our experience the most effective ways to communicate directly with our unconscious minds are through vision boarding or hypnosis techniques. Check out our recent article “All You Need to Know About Visionboarding”  to help you design a vision board to communicate with your unconscious. Visionboarding is one of our Life Makeover Retreat workshops.

Myths about hypnosis are rife because hypnosis is misunderstood. Many people fear of being controlled or manipulated due to what they see on stage hypnosis shows or television. If you are curious about how hypnosis can help you, here are some golden rules of hypnosis that will help you decide if it is for you:

  1. Don’t expect to feel “hypnotized” – in hypnosis you are fully aware but in a deep state of relaxation
  2. You are in control at all times. Someone can only direct you if you are “happy” to do so and you trust the hypnotist.
  3. Hypnosis is only really listening and imagine/pretend. The better you are at imagining and pretending, the more effective the hypnosis will be.
  4. The purpose of hypnosis is to give your unconscious mind positive suggestions about change so it is a perfect accompaniment to habit change work.

We suggest initially working with a qualified hypnotist to understand the structure and process, but there is no reason why you cannot eventually lead your own self-hypnosis if you have time for a little study too. You can of course purchase hypnosis audio files too. To further debunk any myths, the general purpose and components of a hypnosis script are as follows:

  • The purpose of hypnosis is to bypass your conscious mind and talk directly to your unconscious mind (where at least 95% of your mind’s power lies). With hypnosis, your conscious mind (the rational, thinking part) can listen in – but it is important that it does not analyze or interfere too much, otherwise the benefits will diminish.
  • A good hypnosis script will take you on a journey of imagination emphasizing your senses (how it looks, feels, sounds, smells, tastes). The script will include suggestions like “relaxing now”, “getting sleepy”. The purpose of all this is to turn off your thinking mind and move you towards a relaxed “trance” state. Your body and mind should feel very relaxed.
  • A good hypnotist will consider what “suggestions” or positive habit enforcing metaphors are useful and tailor the hypnosis to your specific situation (communicating with your unconscious mind is like communicating with a 7 year old child and so stories and rich metaphors can really be effective).

At La Crisalida Retreats many of our guests are looking to get away and make changes to their eating or lifestyle habits. We therefore offer the possibility of hypnosis sessions to accelerate the likelihood of lasting positive change. Please contact us or email us on info@lacrisalidaretreats.com for more information.

Read this months article on yoga breathing, to help you to introduce and develop your deep breathing techniques, for relaxation and rejuvenation. We also hope these steps will help you as you make changes in your life, maybe because you want to reduce your blood pressure or cholesterol levels.

Best of luck with working through all of The 7 Steps to Setting New Habits!

John

Owner and Founder
La Crisalida Retreats

Headshot of John Brant - Retreat Founder at La Crisalida Retreats
John Brant

John is one of the founders of La Crisalida Retreats. He leads our life makeover programme as well as overseeing the retreats.

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