Let’s look at where the break happens in the good habits formula...
...the INTERRUPTION (insert record scratch).
The interruption is a bit tricky for us because it comes off as a good REASON, idea or thought. It’s the disguise that convinces and influences our ENTIRE nervous system to NOT take the action, abandon our goals, give up on our pursuits and go back to the familiar.
Everything in life, from the minute you wake up, starts with a thought.
When the idea of pursuing BIG HAIRY GOALS scares us out of establishing life changing habits, the FFF (flight, fight, freeze) response gets activated. It literally HIJACKS our entire MOTIVATION and RESULTS/REWARD plan and replaces it with a new motivation that has a different reward: comfort (or safety).
MOTIVATION switched lanes on you. All of a sudden you are moving in a different direction. Your brain will tell you this was a good move. You are now being motivated by your comfort zone. Comfort makes us feel balanced. It gives our nervous system a rest. It feels like homeostasis.
Familiar = comfort = perceived balance.
You are now on a different track. It feels safe. You are not consciously choosing. This is when you find yourself asking yourself, I know what to do so why don’t I do it?
When my clients ask me that question, this is typically what I say next, “WHY do you THINK you are not taking ACTION even though you KNOW what to do?”
At this point, they will give me paragraphs upon paragraphs of their thoughts, otherwise known as REASONS. Don’t get me wrong, they are good ones, even reasonable ones. I am not invalidating the facts of life. I am trying to make a distinction here.
Contrary to popular BELIEF, they are NOT the REAL reasons. THEY are usually just referring to the undistinguished FEAR. Another way to say this is, what appears as facts of life, is just story and thoughts.
FACTS are just FACTS.
It’s raining outside. That’s a fact. It’s raining outside therefore my whole exercise plan is ruined. That’s a thought.
This is not the easy part. Like I said before, the fear is not always obvious. But I love to take my clients on an excavation journey. TOGETHER. Like good explorers, not like trial attorneys looking for evidence to prove their FAULTY THINKING and further BURY the undistinguished fear. I don’t scare people into bringing up their fears. That’s oxymoronic and ineffective.
First we distinguish the facts from their PERCEIVED REALITY. As we look closely, we usually find the fear. People often think that this is uncomfortable work. That it brings up shame and discomfort. It often does. But that’s usually because we’ve internalized and identified with our fears and made them REAL. Made them FACTS. Made them TRUE. I should know. I’ve done this many times. I like to think of this as less scary and more HUMAN.
Being human can be amusing, enlightening and even funny.
But this can ONLY happen when we distinguish our fears and STOP making them real. When we do this, it’s much easier to give up our REASONS, thoughts, and self defense strategies. The path in front of us starts to seem clearer and more focused. The strategies, knowledge and tools we have at our disposal start to become useful. The next best ACTION becomes CLEAR. We get back on the right TRACK.
But first we need to understand these equations:
Our REASONS ≠ (do not equal) FACTS.
FEARS = OUR REALITY –(minus) the FACTS.
Don’t let this ruffle your feathers.
Next week we will use an analogy to look inside our brain.