Habit and Your Subconscious Mind

"You'll never change your life until you change something you do daily."


It's the start of 2019, a brand new year to set our resolutions, in hopes to get rid of bad habits and cultivate good ones. But how many of us really stuck by them? We often fail and simply brush it off cos we feel it's too tough or we don't have time to follow them through. Well, the good news is it's not really difficult to do it, if you follow them through religiously and by that, I meant everyday.  

Allow me to share a personal experience with you. More than 8 years ago, I was a heavy smoker, consuming about up to 2 packs a day. I stopped smoking for the period I was pregnant with my son but jumped right back on it not long after I birth him. I often blamed it on the stress from the relationship with my son's father and perhaps falling into postpartum depression played a part too. Smoking then was my comfort. Nevertheless, smoking is expensive, harmful to my kid and my health so I tried many times to cut it out but failed miserably, returning to it ever heavier. Then I chanced upon a book, The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

As the author suggests that our daily routine are formed mainly on habits, like waking up, brushing our teeth, getting dressed and out the door to our day. It goes by first identifying the cue, getting on a routine and rewarding yourself after completing the task. That's exactly how our subconscious is wired. When a habit is formed, we basically operate on autopilot. If you don't believe me, try doing something out of your normal routine once you get out of bed without prior planning, you'll find yourself stuck for a couple of seconds to minutes trying to figure out what is next. Habits are routine engraved in your subconscious mind, nearly effortless routine. They don't formed just by doing a certain task on occasions, neither by doing it for a few days in a row but about 66 days of consecutive practice is what you need to register a habit subconsciously. 

So back to my smoking habit; I told myself one evening that I will not buy another pack of cigarettes once the last stick is gone. The cue to my habit is seeing the newsstand that displays all the different type of cigarettes, where I would buy my pack daily. I prep talk myself not to walk close to the newsstand on my way to work. In fact, 2 minutes before I will approach the area, I will repeat to myself silently, "Today is a beautiful day and look to your left" (cos the newsstand is to my right). Then I will walk pass it, get to work and forget all about the cigarettes I was meant to buy, or rather cued to buy. And at the end of the week, I'll treat myself to something, like a book or a meal I really wanted to try. I probably had it a little easier cos there isn't much a thing as lunch time at work when it's always overwhelming with things to do so I only have to fight the devil every morning. Often, I will plug on my earphones and sing silently to all my favourite tracks and that helped divert my attention away from the evil newsstand :) There were days when I was tempted by people smoking around me but once you tune into your subconscious mind, you can practically tell it to shut up when it is trying to feed your with toxic. I did move away from people who are not constructive in that phase of my life too (You can't be positive if you hang around negative people everyday.) Then little did I realise, years have passed since my last stick, without just by rewiring my subconscious thoughts and nothing else.

So does it method work with cultivating one since what I've shared is about kicking a nasty one out? Definitely! Say for example, you want to start using skincare daily but struggled to get on with it. Perhaps start with placing all the necessary products where you'll put on your makeup or get ready daily and place a simple habit tracker next to them. Make it an effort to check it off the list every time you complete a task (this is coming from someone who doesn't use skincare daily years ago). A habit tracker still helps me cultivate new habits till this very day. And of course, tons and tons of self talk helps. I have used this method to stop shopping for an entire year, start meditating daily, making sure I ate properly, away from junk and avoid scratching my face whenever I am in deep thoughts or stressed out.

I certainly hope this has been helpful. And please go read the book, it's God sent. This is one of the very few books I keep talking about to people I know. I have a copy with me if you want to loan but with a condition that is is returned as it is loaned (I am very particular on how my books are treated. My close friends can tell you how painful I am when it comes to books :D ). 

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