When any pattern or behaviour is repeated often enough, the synaptic pathways associated with that patter get used to be accessed – so much so that some experts believe our brain can form new habits in just 21 days.
The only way to beat a bad habit is to find a goal that is more important than the behaviour itself. When you have a bad behaviour then there is always something important that drives it, something that is stronger than the desire for a more useful behaviour to take its place.
A key to change is visualising the new behaviour in the environment where you need it to happen. You have to really believe the new behaviour is possible because when we concentrate or practice something new with the true intention of learning a chemical called acetlycholine is produced which turns the brain on. Half hearted efforts or effort without belief will not work.
For learning to become permanent it has to be stored at the non-conscious level as well as understood at the conscious level. A bad habit is stored and engrained at the non-conscious level, which is why you can’t just ‘change’. Several different techniques such as hypnotherapy and visualisation enable change to take place at the unconscious level.
Visualisation of a new behaviour triggers strong emotional learnings enabling the desired behaviour to create the required impression on the brain. It has been proven that when you imagine doing something the mind actually sends the same electrical impulses throughout the body as if you are actually doing it.
After ‘practicing’ the new behaviour using visualisation there are two ways to put it into practice; you can either go straight from visualisation to acting it out, or you can break it down into smaller steps that you work through, slowly building yourself up to the final behaviour.
Say you are always unreasonably critical of mess being left around the house. Start with small steps, don’t expect to go from 2 to 8 in being accepting, but aim for 3, then 4, etc.