What gets in the way of us forming new habits? And what creates lasting habit change?
There are four misconceptions about success and habit change.
Number one can be summed up with the phrase, short term pain, long term gain. Have you heard this phrase before? Sacrifice, pain and struggle can actually serve us in a lot of ways. But here's the catch. When you are creating a painful process and you are saying short term pain, long term gain, you are going to keep it painful. You're actually teaching yourself that you need the pain, that this is part of the success. You're training yourself to have pain in your life. And if that works for you, that's okay. But if you are now interested in something different, when you can actually play for the fastest and lasting gain, let’s talk about the power of play. When you bring play into the mix, you can create change in a fraction of the time. The brain actually needs pleasure to create habit loops.
Number two, never let them see you sweat. Let's think about this. Is this something that you've experienced in your corporate environment, or in your community or even in your family, where you don't want to show people that you're hurting? Or that you're lonely or that you're fearful or that you are struggling? Do you have this belief that you are not to show yourself until you're successful, that you should go about the journey alone? If you are not sharing while you're going on your journey, it can create this lonely leader syndrome where people are not honest. They don't feel like they can be honest. And so the new paradigm I want to invite you to is what if you could be fully seen, fully heard and loved no matter where you are at on your journey, and this is the key to having you thrive. Let that sink in. What if that were possible?
I want to share with you a study. Scientists in the ‘70s and ‘80s took rats and put them into small cages. They put a single rats into their own little cages and added two bottles, one with water, and one with heroin-infused water. The rats started drinking the heroin-infused water and got addicted. They got hooked and they overdosed on heroin. What did the scientists conclude? Extreme pleasure is addictive and it can create self destruction. But another scientist came along and said, you know what? I don’t know about stopping at those results. I'm going to take a cage and I'm actually going to increase it by 200 times. I'm going to put food in there. I'm to put balls in there for the rats to play with. I'm going to put 20 more rats in there with both genders. I'm going to now put those two bottles in the cage, the water and the heroin-infused water. What do you think happened? The rats completely ignored the heroin. They were much more interested in the communal rat activities, like playing, fighting, eating, mating than sucking on the heroin-infused water. Isn't that interesting? So what they did was they took the isolated, heroin-addicted rats and they put them into this rat park.
And what do you think happened? The rats got themselves off of heroin. They did not go back to the heroin-infused water. Isn't that amazing? So what's key in this study is that, while we want to recognize that rats are not human, rats and humans do have some things that are in common. They are social creatures. They need simulation, they need company. They need play, drama, sex and interaction in order to stay happy. Now what is different about rats and humans is that humans need something else. They need trust and they need attachment in order to be able to thrive in their environment. And that means that when we were younger, as infants, we needed really safe, reliable caregivers to help us be well adjusted, connecting, trusting adults. And I don't know about you, but not everyone has had that background. Sometimes childhood trauma gets in the way of us having that full attachment and trust.
So it's not about not letting them see you sweat. It's about being fully seen and heard and loved no matter where you are at on the journey with this deep connection and trust. That is so key.
Misconception number three. Knowledge is power. If knowledge is power, then why is it that we have all the information in the world right now via the internet but record numbers of lifestyle-based critical and chronic illnesses? What you need to be successful in forming new habits is to follow through on consistent action that is in alignment with your deepest needs.
The fourth misconception is that you must be an expert to impact change. Some people think that they need to get to a higher place before they can change themselves and contribute to other people forming new habits. But what I love about a playful, interactive approach to forming new habits is that while you are learning, even if you are a beginner, you can actually change lives as you go.
I work a lot with self-sacrificing leaders. I see so many people that have these huge hearts that are giving so much of themselves, but it's like they're scraping from the bottom of the bucket, and really depleting themselves while they're trying to make this impact on their world. And what I would love to see is for people who have these big hearts to finally have a way to fill their bucket and to be able to give from a place of abundant overflow.
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