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  • Writer's pictureIyanu Emmanuel

How to create positive life changes

Have you been trying to make positive changes only to find they don’t last?

Whether you want to improve your physical health, mental health or your relationship with yourself or others, you will need to first understand the power and influence of your habits.

Habitual thoughts, behaviours and interactions will often lead us down the same familiar path of frustration and procrastination and leave us feeling unable to bring in and sustain the changes we are seeking to make. The good news is that once we can recognise these often unconscious and habitual patterns we can then seek to exchange them for more productive, empowering and positive habits that will then provide us with the ability to make changes and feel more in control.

If this all sound too familiar then please read on to discover how Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help.

The power of habits when making a change.

Did you know that your brain is essentially lazy? That’s right! It may sound a little absurd however it’s true. Your brain thrives on repetition and taking the easy option. Its primary function is to protect us and keep us out of danger. The brain isn’t concerned about whether your thoughts are negative or positive or whether these thoughts then lead you down a path of chaos and turmoil or a road of ease and control. Over time negative thoughts and negative outcomes can become firmly embedded as you create more and more neural pathways within your brain that support and encourage these thoughts and behaviours. Negative thinking becomes a trusted habit of the brain, which the brain will firmly hold on to and repeat despite any attempts you may make to suddenly change these thoughts or behaviours that are no longer serving you.

So why does this happen?

The second thing to understand about your brain is that it can be extremely resistant to change.

The brain feels secure where it is and because you are still alive and breathing it believes it is keeping you safe and therefore fulfilling its primary purpose.

Imagine for a moment that you are stood at the top of a mountain about to ski down it. You see the path before you that you have been down so many times before. This path is well worn and has a familiarity that keeps you travelling down it. It feels safe and easy. Well this path can be compared to a neural pathway in the brain that has been created over time by your negative thinking habits. However you have now reached the conclusion that this path is keeping you stuck, frustrated and unable to function and live the way you want to.

Negative habits of thought, if left to their own devices, can lead to anxiety, depression and a very restrictive and repetitive life experience.

Are you ready to create a new and more exciting ski slope?

Well the good news is that you can! Better still, it really is pretty simple once you know how. The even bigger and bolder news is that once you have created this more conductive and supportive ski slope the old and worn out one will simply get covered with snow through lack of use and cease to exist!! That’s right you can create more positive and life affirming neural pathways in the brain and before you know it you will be left with no choice but to embrace you more positive and supportive habits of thought and resulting behaviours and outcomes.

Baby steps or giant leaps?

The key to making creating new habits is to do so with baby steps. A giant leap will often start you off for the first day or so however you are likely to be met with a lot of resistance as your brain hits you with all the reason why you shouldn’t proceed with these changes. The brain identifies these changes as a threat and an unwelcomed disruption to its current ease and familiarity. As it senses this threat your brain will access all of your previous experiences and failures and remind you of them incessantly.

A perfect example of this is witnessed when you stop and consider all of the New Year Resolutions that you have set yourself in the past. The chances are most, if not all have been abandoned by the end of January, if not before!! This is due to the fact that you have set the bar to high, the changes you want to make are too sudden, too big and too scary for the brain to accept as a safe option and it will talk you out of making them. The creation of new habits is more important than the enormity of the change you set yourself. Baby steps will create the change as they are not identified as a threat and are quite honestly easier to maintain.

For example, if you decide that you wish to become more physically active it’s important to first make physical activity a habit – (something you simply can’t not do). To achieve this you need to take small steps and to set small, nonthreatening goals. Rather than trying to commit yourself to hitting the swimming pool for an 1hr 3 times a week the goal of going swimming 3 times a week for at least 10 minutes. It may sound a bit pointless however the likelihood of being able to follow through with this is much higher and you will soon find that this activity has become a habit for you to the point that even on the days that you feel tired and like you can’t be bothered an unconscious prompt will get you down to the swimming pool as not going is simply no longer an option.

You could easily take this example and apply it to any change you are seeking to make. If you have a list as long as your arm of jobs you need to do set yourself the goal of doing one job each day, rather than pressuring yourself to get it all done at once. You are much less likely to experience feelings of resistance and failure as procrastination takes over and encourages you to watch some telly instead. As you progress and continue to take these baby steps you will also find that you start to feel more confident in your abilities to follow through with your goals and achieve the changes you seek. This is because you are not being flooded with a sense of failure each day but with a sense of achievement and success.

How Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help significantly in this process.

Now I believe that most, if not all of you, reading this will agree that what’s been said sounds quite logical and in its simple essence it truly is! When we are working from the logical, positive and problem solving part of our brain the creation of new habits is simple as we tend to experience less interference from our more primitive, emotional and negative part of the brain.

When we are experiencing low mood, anxiety or higher levels of pressure and stress then it is this primitive part of the brain that will often start to run the show and any access to logic and the ability to find solutions and make changes becomes for the most part shut down.

Solution Focused Hypnotherapy’s primary focus is to help guide the client out of their primitive brain and into their more positive, logical and goal orientated part of the brain. In doing so not only does their anxiety lessen significantly but the client will also find it a lot easier to create more life enhancing and positive habits of thought and behaviour.

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