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Keep the Habits that You Want, Get Rid of the Rest

by Tim Brunson Ph.D.

Any behavior that is repeated often enough becomes a habit. Once a habit become so engrained in your mind and body that normal processes are interfered with, the habit goes to the extreme of becoming an addiction. Unfortunately, in many ways these behaviors become part of your personality. In fact, they become part of your identity. Nevertheless, change is an option – if you have the know-how.

Your actions and thoughts become habits because your brain and body are set up to work with and in patterns. These patterns represent real pathways that connect your neurons in your brain and determine how your body typically reacts in various situations. Patterns are so much a part of our daily lives, that we will never be free of them. But, wouldn’t it be great if you could choose which ones to keep and which ones to dump.

When you start a new behavior – such as learning a new language or taking up a new sport – your mind is stimulated. With repetition these once novel things become not only hardwired in your brain and body, but become strengthened. Clinical folks use the word habituated when they mean that these thoughts and activities move from the part of the brain that handles novelty back to the part concerned with routine and the mundane. Then the more that they are repeated and rehearsed the more they are strengthened and start exerting mindless power over you. Again, at its extreme patterns can become addictions that are hard to get rid of.

The solution to managing your habits is to make a conscious decision of which habits to keep and which to discard. The next step is to mentally and physically rehearse the new activities or thoughts as frequently as you can for at least 21 days. If you can’t do both, at least do the mental rehearsal. By focusing on what you do want, you are ignoring the old habits that you wish to get rid of. Since all thought patterns expect to be recalled regularly, you will find that by focusing on the desired behaviors that they old ones will slowly loose their appeal. One scientist labeled this as the Use it or lose itphenomena. You will find that by strengthening the new habit, the old habits eventually fade. Of course, this will be just a little harder for addictions – and professional help will often be required in those situations.

Hypnosis is an excellent tool for changing habits and addictions. As the first reaction to getting rid of those behaviors will be the mind and body’s natural resistance to change, a trained hypnotist – or the use of superior hypnosis CD’s or MP3 recordings – will naturally help you get past resistance so that you can start installing your new behavior and letting the old stuff fade.

About the Author:

Tim Brunson, PhD, is the Executive Director of The International Hypnosis Research Institute, a member supported project involving integrative health care specialists from around the world. We provide information and educational resources to clinicians. Hypnosis self-help and clinical CD’s and Downloads.

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