Think of a dense forest, the floor of the forest is completely overgrown. In order to go into the forest you would need to trample out a pathway. It would be hard work breaking trail, and if you only used the path once then it would soon become overgrown again. The more that you use the path the wider it becomes and the more familiar it is to you, the easier it is to get into the forest.
Do you have to concentrate to tie your shoelaces? Probably not these days, but that was not always the case, was it? I am sure that it seemed quite complicated the first time that you did it. You opened up a neural pathway to tying your shoelaces, the more often that you did it, the wider the pathway became.
Our habits define our life, they make us what we are. Habits can determine how long we live, our happiness levels throughout our life, how successful we are or not as the case may be. The only habit that we are born with is the ability to breathe, the rest of our habits are acquired throughout life. They are acquired behavior patterns that once we have run them a few times often occur automatically.
Habits can be changed, in fact we change them all the time without realising it. The chances are that over your lifetime your breathing habit has changed and you now breathe more rapidly and with less depth than when you were young. This is the result of our hectic modern lifestyle and is probably not to your advantage. So, if we can change our habits the good news is that we can choose to live a happier life, choose to be more successful and choose to live longer. Is that something that might interest you?
A habit is developed in our unique internal network, our nervous system. We make a request for some kind of action, whether it be a physical movement or a thought. Our nervous system handles the request and directs it to the appropriate part of the body for a response.
Now, the first time that we make a request, this creates what is known as a neural or neurological pathway. The more times that we run the request the stronger the pathway becomes and the easier it is for the nervous system to handle the request, until it forms a habit and the behaviour becomes automatic, it just happens without a formal request being made.
The easiest way to think of this process is to think of a thick forest with lots of undergrowth and in the middle of the forest lives a goose that lays golden eggs.
Now, assuming that you want to get hold of these golden eggs, you will need to plough your way through the undergrowth in the forest to get to the nest and then plough your way back again to get home.
The first time that you make the journey it will be really hard going for you and it may take you a long time, but the more journeys that you make to the nest the easier it will become as a pathway develops. Eventually your pathway will become well defined and clear of any obstruction, so you will be able to stroll down it effortlessly to collect your golden eggs.
That is how habits develop. Repeated actions, thoughts or behaviours will eventually become habits.
Do your habits support you? Take one habit that you are not happy with and make a decision to change it. Say, for example you swear and wish that you didn’t. Choose a replacement word for your swearword. Whenever you catch yourself about to swear, stop yourself and use the replacement word instead.
At first you may find it tricky to stop yourself until it is too late but the more times you do manage to stop yourself, the more times that you walk down that path, the easier it will get. Keep this up for a week and your habit will be broken.
Of course if you choose to have a break from walking up the path to get the eggs, then you may find that the undergrowth regrows and you have your old habit back. It is always a choice that you have!
Choose happiness and personal growth and collect your golden eggs. Make a decision to change a bad habit and do it now!
This habit breaking and creation is what is known as Neuro Linguistic Programming.