My last couple of blogs have focused on helping you understand yourself and what drives you. They have helped you become aware of your deepest fears and discover the negative patterns and habits that are dominating your life. This post will look at how you change those undesirable patterns.
As with any habit, it's almost impossible to just delete an unhealthy behavior and expect a new and wonderful behavior to replace it instantly. So I have come up with a formula for changing patterns. It is:
Recognize and Replace Repeatedly = Rewire and reJOYce!
In neuroscience, experts suggest that for our brains to rewire to a new habit, we have to repeat the new pattern many times. That's why the repeating the new pattern or behavior is so critical to my formula.
When we learn how to do something the first time, a "scratch" is put on our brain. Each time we repeat this thing, the scratch becomes deeper and deeper, until it is a groove or trough -- and the movement/activity/ behavior becomes automatic.
So: Your already-entrenched patterns are in very deep grooves; they happen with no thought or consciousness. To break those patterns, you need the recognition and awareness so you can catch yourself just before the impulse fires down the groove!
Once you do that, you can choose to respond another way -- a new way. You make a new "scratch"! Each time you respond the new way, that scratch becomes deeper and deeper, until it becomes deep enough to be the default pattern.
Celebrating and rejoicing when you have made the changes is critical to the process of cementing them in the brain.
The Next Step
Imagine what your life would be like if you recognized the real fears that are holding you back -- in every area of your life. Defensiveness, anger, jealousy, the need to be right, lack of confidence, the need to control things, unhealthy relationships, fights, stress, anxiety, office paranoia, and countless other behaviours would vaporize.
Fear of abandonment, uncertainty, not being lovable, looking stupid, being judged by others, not getting approval, separation, other people's moods, being unsafe, or not having a sense of belonging to a family, group or higher power... the list of fears could be very long! These fears underlie and cause most of our negative behaviours.
Look at the three behavior patterns you would like to stop. Write them down. Now. ask yourself the question, "What am I frightened of in this situation? Really frightened of?"
Write down the fears you identify. (Not worth loving? Not good enough? Unsafe?)
Then ask yourself, "When did this fear start? Is it still relevant? Does this fear play any useful purpose in my life now? Is it helping me achieve what I want in life?''
Dwell on your answers. Most of the time, you will be stunned at how deep the fears are and how they are all from your early years in life -- usually ages 0-5!
You can then become your own "perfect" parent and deal with the issues that may not have been resolved when you were little. Give your inner toddler the adult perspective and truth of what was really happening at the time you established your beliefs and fears.
Now it's a choice. Once you know about fear, you can choose to walk with the fears and let them rule your life, or you can consciously choose the way of joy.
Find the fears that are ruling your life and challenge them. Replace them with understanding and joy!
Let me know how it goes! What did you discover about yourself by doing this exercise, or by simply reflecting on this issue? Feel free to comment or share your ideas in the comments below.
For more by Amanda Gore, click here.
For more on becoming fearless, click here.