Ever wonder why it’s so hard to keep New Years Resolutions? Here’s the bad news, you are programmed to actually NOT keep your promises made to yourself about changing your daily habits, and it’s really not your fault. Unfortunately, we humans are wired that way. Losing at the game of personal growth is almost inevitable because we are battling a very formidable opponent, the subconscious mind.
Think of it this way, we humans are at war with our two selves, one is the conscious mind, the analytical and intellectual part of our selves. The other, our opponent, is the subconscious. This part of the self is behind the scenes, it directs our actions and is often times unknown to us. This opponent is programmed with negative and positive experiences since birth and it only has one job, to keep you safe and secure and comfortable which can mean different things to different people.
For instance, a frequent New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. Eating better and going on a diet requires time, dedication and a change in daily habits. It would mean planning, joining a gym maybe, buying different foods, less eating on the run etc.
A plan might be to set your intention, maybe write down specifics of your weight loss program, “I will lose 10 pounds by February 15…”
Now here comes the all-powerful opponent, the subconscious thoughts. This is when we will begin making excuses for our new way of thinking; here’s where the old thoughts begin to creep in, take hold, and sabotage the new plan of action.
“I don’t have time to prepare my lunch, I’ll just pick up some fast food”
“I am so sick and tired of this stressful job, I just want a burger”
“The gym membership is expensive, and I have to pay for my son’s piano lessons.”
Why do these thoughts intrude when you really want just the opposite? Now think about that safe and secure function of the subconscious; remember safe and secure means all kinds of things.
Possibly, you might remember times where food was a source of comfort. Early on in your life, these foods might have meant happiness. Moving away from happiness in the other direction, choosing a salad just doesn’t feel good.
The habits formed early on influence our way of thinking in the present and they are hard to change because of this “feel-good” type of programming. In this case, the program running (eating fattening foods) is more powerful than the new change in eating behaviors. Remember, the subconscious only serves to create safe, comfortable, non-threatening existences for the self. It doesn’t care about your weight loss plan or whether or not you begin going to the gym. The conscious self, the one that wants the change, is overruled. The subconscious program, much like a hard drive, knows one thing; how it’s been programmed (from childhood) to maintain a safe, secure, comfortable existence. The term comfort zone in this instance is synonymous with subconscious programming. It’s not comfortable to make the new desired changes in eating based on the prior programming. See where that Whopper just entered into the picture?
Now here is the good news, the subconscious can be rewired. We know this from science. It’s not some new age theory that tells you to say in the mirror, “I am 20 pounds lighter” every day. From a neuropsychological perspective, these programs can be altered or changed, physically in the brain, as well as energetically, within the subconscious. These changes take place during exercises of accessing slowed down brainwave states. The reprogramming is measurable and possible thanks to concepts of the emerging field of neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is a big word that basically describes how the brain can change throughout a person’s lifetime in response to training it in a new way. The key here is “new.” This new way of learning a different behavior must be practiced and according to scientists, it must be practiced for at least 21 days. In other words, stay on that path of eating and exercising differently until the end of January and you’re golden! You’ve just built some new neuronal pathways that outweigh the Whopper.
So, you have the bad and the good news about New Year’s resolutions, we just can’t help ourselves, we are wired to not keep them because of a quiet war between the two selves. These selves need and can work together for a common goal but it’s going to take some time and determination.
Simply understanding this concept in and of itself is literally half of the battle.
We will explore more next time the concepts of mental rehearsal and how it works in establishing new ways of thinking. In the meantime, check us out at soulhappy.com and see how we are on a mission to disrupt the field of psychology one subconscious mind at a time!