Psychologists say that a habit is anything you routinely do without having to think about it unconsciously. Habits come from our environment, family and parents, culture and friends, and if left unchanged, they operate on auto-pilot subconsciously running all the time in the background.
Now you know why you get stuck in repetitive negative patterns and behaviors that even when you have good intentions to do differently – you keep going back to. To change the auto-pilot so you have more control over what you want in life, you have to recognize the auto-pilot unconscious patterns and “rewire” your brain to act and think differently.
Imagine yourself at the beach in the morning so the tide is out and the sand is absolutely smooth and as you are walking along the beach you see trickle streams of water from a part of the ocean, weaving a path over the sand. At first there isn't a path for it to follow. So it starts to form one for itself. As the water continues to flow it forms a groove in the sand – getting deeper and more defined the longer it is used.
Once this channel is deep enough it would be difficult to change the water flow. If the water stops, the groove will remain for quite a period of time in case it is needed again. This is why it is easier to pick up something again after you haven't done it in forever (riding a bike for example) than to learn a new activity or thought or behavior.
Each time you replace a negative habit with a positive one you lay down a new groove inside your brain. So the more you do the positive habit the deeper the groove gets. Eventually, with repeating this over and over, you truly change how your brain behaves. And bad habits that you stop, the longer that groove remains unused. . . it gets discarded from non-use over time. But if you don't repeat the positive habit, as the same goes for that, it disappears in the brain. So you have to use it or lose it.
A study was done that found that habits can be formed in as little as 7 days of repeated activity. But can disappear just as quick if you stop. So you have to repeat the positive habit for long periods of time for it to become the “go-to” unconscious response for your brain. You have to make the “groove” for that positive habit deep and lasting by doing it repetitively.
More next Sunday. Have a great week my friends.