Have you ever struggled to create change in your life? Perhaps you hit a special birthday, and said this year, it’s going to be different, I am going to create my dream business and become an entrepreneur or, maybe you wanted to start a simple habit like eating more healthy, or reading more books. After a few days or weeks, your life becomes an inevitable unfortunate repeat of the past. So many people, filled with the best of intentions create goals but fail to achieve them, while a small percentage of people go on to create change and make it stick. Have you ever wondered what’s their secret? How do you create change in your life and make it stick, not just for a month, a permanent change?
I have created a two-part blog post series, that firstly explains the science behind creating change. It’s important to understand how change occurs before you implement strategies to make the change stick. The second part of the series focuses on five strategies to enable you to create change in your life, and make it long-term.
When you embark on the process of learning a new skill, or changing a bad habit, you are actually sending a positive emotion that comes in the form of two hormones, dopamine and serotonin, throughout your body. The body has grown accustomed to being bombarded with levels of cortisol, because your cells are receivers of information, your cells expect to receive cortisol, and will willingly ask for more cortisol and stress. If you’re wondering why you’re always stressed out, it’s not because you’re supposed to live that way, it’s because your cells are conditioned to receiving high levels of cortisol, which is the hormone that will be released in response to stress. When you stick with a new habit, you are sending the new hormones, dopamine and serotonin to your cells, as a result your cells start to vibrate because they are not used to getting this new information. Essentially your cells vibrate because they need to change their receptors, in order to accept this new information. It’s at this stage where most people trip up or self sabotage. At this stage in the creation of a new habit, doesn’t feel good or becomes increasing difficult. Overtime if you stick with your new habit, you will get a breakthrough. Have you ever noticed how the greatest breakthroughs always happen when you almost want to quit, then around the corner comes a massive breakthrough? When your cells get used to receiving dopamine and serotonin, they will innately want more, you will start to crave the choices and habits that give your body more of these positive emotions.
What does this all mean for creating changes that stick. Essentially those moments around the stage of resistance, when we feel terrible and quite are the key moments before a breakthrough or change is about to happen. In moments of resistance, some people commence a spiral of negative talk where they focus on how difficult achieving the goal feels. These moments of resistance can be categorised into three groups, the feeling of being stuck, a feeling of being bored, and a need to retract with oneself to feel safe. Take a moment to look back over previous attempts to change your life, have you fallen into this path? Which category do you consistently fall into? I see this all the time within the lives of my clients, its innate, you feel the inevitable pain that comes from setting a
new habit, and retreat back into your old more comfortable habits. After all, we are all creatures of comfort and strive to avoid pain and choose pleasure.
There is a second group of people who naturally choose to focus on how great something feels. They start going to the gym and the first thing they notice is not how sore they are post work out but how amazing they feel, they focus on the rush of endorphins. They often get excited about learning new information, growth, and opportunity to try new things. These pleasure seekers or perseveres fall into three categories: growth, confidence, and a sense of adventure. When you grow and feel great about the growth, you experience momentum and are moving forward, which eliminates the feeling of being stuck. When you’re feeling confident and adopt a sense of adventure into your life, you automatically invite more excitement into your life, and thus, overcome the feeling of boredom. If you focus on the idea of growing and increasing in confidence stemmed from your growth, and start choosing to look at life with an adventurous spirit, only then will change become less daunting.
We all at different times fall into both of these categories, at times, I live life with a sense of adventure, but if I try to embark on a gym routine, I fall into the trap of becoming a pain avoider; it almost like you have both of these behavioural patterns within your brain. Can you think of moments when you have fallen into the pattern of being a pain avoider and a pleasure perceiver?
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