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Creating Self-Sustaining Change September 11, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Mindfulness, Nature, People.
18 comments

Who you are now is a collection of unconscious implicit memories developed over time as the result of choices you made and repeated so often that they became hard-wired habits.

On the road from “who you are” to “who you want to be” . . .

Goofy-Riding-A-BikeExpect a few stumbles and tumbles.

Replacing a “bad habit” (e.g., getting anxious) with a “good habit” (e.g., remaining calm) is like acquiring any other skill.

Most people learn to walk or ride a bike only after a few stumbles and tumbles.  If we collapse and give up the first time we fall, we never reach the finish line.

We must keep coming back to the task . . . like Dianne Nyad, who took 35 years to swim 110 miles from Cuba to Key West.

It’s all about getting out of the way!

Each time you reach for the keyboard or a pencil, synapses fire and transmit messages from mind to muscle at 250 mph.  They are able to transmit data at miraculous speeds because . . . YOU are not getting in the way.

Gymnastics

Once you learn how to type, write, or ride a bike, you create implicit memories that tell your body how to move and what to do without you having to spell it out on a conscious level each time.

After you’ve mastered a skill, you need only create an intention and your body takes care of pulling the necessary strings to accomplish the designated task.

Creating new habits feels uncomfortable.  

Each time you consciously choose to learn something new, or to do something that doesn’t follow your habitual patterns, your body will be telling your mind that something is NOT RIGHT.

Pluto-RollerskatingThat doesn’t mean that you can’t change . . . you can. First, at a conscious level. Then, with enough repetition, at an unconscious automatic level.

But it takes TIME and EFFORT.  And lots and lots of practice.

Let’s play “Simon Says” . . .

Simon says, “Cross your arms.”

Simon says, “Uncross your arms and cross them the OTHER way.”

Donald-Duck-BaseballThe first time you crossed your arms, you didn’t have to consciously choose HOW to cross your arms . . . because you relied on a habitual intrinsic memory.

The second time you crossed your arms, you had to THINK about it.  And it took longer.  And it felt uncomfortable.  Because you didn’t have an intrinsic memory in place to do your “thinking” for you.

Self-Sustaining Change

Once we learn to walk, ride a bike, or play a musical instrument, continuing to do so becomes easier because we are relying on an intrinsic memory rather than conscious effort.

In process, me move from Unconsciously Unskilled (not knowing we don’t know how to “tie our shoe”) to Consciously Unskilled (knowing we don’t know how to “tie our shoe”) to Consciously Skilled (able to “tie our shoe” with conscious effort) to Unconscious Skilled (able to “tie our shoes” without even thinking about it).

Once we reach the last level (Unconscious Skilled), the change we’re after becomes self-sustaining because we’ve created neural pathways and intrinsic memories.  New wiring has replaced the old.

The same process applies when we change the way we think, act, and re-act to the world around us.  What starts out feeling “AWKWARD” becomes increasingly comfortable until, one day, we see the world from our new perspective “without even thinking about it.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

Tomorrow ~> Re-Wiring The Brain

* * * * *

Our brain, which controls virtually every aspect of our lives, is as amazing a piece of equipment as you are ever likely to encounter.

Reading this post is akin to reading the Cliff Notes for a beloved classic ~ you’ll get the gist of the plot-line and learn about a few of the major characters, but many delightful nuances and well-turned phrases are missing.

To learn more about our miraculous bundle of synaptic intelligence, consider reading Evolve Your Brain ~ The Science of Changing Your Mind, by Joe Dispenza.

Changing your mind will change your life.

Related posts:  Good Habits Bad Habits (Patricia’s Place) * The Serenity Principle