Minding Your Habits

 Justin Bustamante

We all know that habits are born out of repeating something enough that it becomes “second nature” and we do it almost without thinking, like rubbing your fingers together when your are thinking about something or moving your lips as you read underneath your breathe. Most habits like these are usually harmless and we grow out of most of them as adults. Others, however, grow with us and can, if left unattended, become very destructive in our lives. 

You see as long as a habit serves us it will go into the inner mind and drive the behaviors that your mind thinks is helping you. But what happens when the way you handled stress or nerves when you were younger doesn’t fit the same context as an adult and brings on all the things that only make matters harder for you? You can remember a time when you handled stress in “the way you knew how” and you were left thinking, “why do I do that?” And the answer lies in the vast jungle of neurons and pathways that is our brain.

Much like an uncharted jungle, our mind is, well, uncharted for the most part but as we experience emotion and go through life we find ways, paths if you will, and patterns of behavior to achieve our goals, relieve stress, and protect ourselves. Naturally, the more you take a certain path, the more it widens and clears up becoming more visible more accessible and you decide that this the “the way” to go. You know it forwards and backwards and sideways, you know the fruit tree where you can have a snack and rest on your way, and you even know the shortcut through the mud pit where if you hop just right you can use the rocks to get to the other side and if you missed and got dirty in the mud who cares because you’re just a kid at this point. Well, as you take that path more and more, over time, it changes. Most things are the same, you still know it well, but the fruit tree has markings on it where you carved in the loves of your life and scratched them out again which made room for the pest that ate at the bark, weakening the tree until it fell over and the mud pit is still there but, because you’re not rested and low on energy, you can’t quit make the same leaps across that you use to, also, because you’re older and heavier whenever you do make it onto a rock it sinks and you get your shoes and bottom of your pants all dirty so you still get where you need to but the journey there just isn’t the same. You’re hangry. You’re half hungry because there's no mid-way snack anymore and the other half angry because you’re all dirty from the mud pit. Do you see where I’m going with this? The path still gets you there and it has all the same things but over time you changed and the way you interacted with the environment changed so even though you still get the result, you just don’t feel the same about it anymore. The path you use to have so much fun taking and spend so much time on because of the fruit tree and the mud pit and all the other stuff leaves you feeling completely different now and you may not even realize it because it’s the only way you’ve known up to this point. Until you decide that it’s time for a new path, a change of habit to achieve your goals and have fun doing it so you can feel better at the end of it, right? 

So what can you do? You stand there at the beginning of your path and think up all kinds of ways to make sure you never go down that path again. You put up a sign, like a positive affirmation, to remind you to find a better way but any time the weather is bad or the wind is too strong, the sign falls and you come back and put up better, stronger “more effective” signs. This time it’s a sign with negative re-enforcement, you’ve electrified a fence across the path so you think twice before crossing. Except one day you’re in a big rush and you need to get across fast so you dis-arm the fence and fly past the dead trees and forget the mud-pit so when you get across you’re all clean and food isn’t even a thought because you were in such a hurry and you ask yourself, “why am finding a new way again, it worked so well this time. Maybe I just needed a break to appreciate it again.” And you’re right back where you started. Only this time when you come across the dead trees, they’ve been taken over by the mud pit and mud is pouring over onto the main path and you can tell right away that things are only getting worse and that you NEED a new way. So with this new found motivation you grab your sharpest blade and start cutting new paths from any direction. You build a path this way and that way and another way and maybe you tripped on a treasure box with gold but no time for that you need a new path so you keep building until you're exhausted an you can’t anymore. Now, you have plenty of new ways to explore, some might not lead anywhere in particular but hey you got away from the mud, right? Again, with time you take certain paths more than the others and some grow back to where you can only take a few and even those are dangerously close to the old ways you’re trying so hard to get away from only to find yourself falling back on what’s familiar.
This can be a very frustrating cycle to go through when you’re trying to kick a habit like smoking, or want to handle stress better. Maybe even deadly if the habit is extreme like over/under eating.

 As a Wellness Hypnotist I specialize in helping people create new pathways to achieve better results while addressing the old habits so there is no risk of you “falling back on them.” My unique process shows you how to regrow the old path giving you a clean slate to build new productive habits that serve you in all the best ways so you can freely explore life without the constant reminder of where “not to go”.