Let’s Talk About How to Change a Habit
It’s that time of year again when you make a commitment to change yourself. Next week is the week that life begins to get in the way, and you end up ignoring your commitment for a day… then another… and another.
This is the typical cycle for humans, but it can be avoided. The majority of the time I have found that the commitment you made is either too much for you to currently process at this time or you are facing that fight with willpower… or both.
Let’s begin with willpower. Everything that you do… any habit that you have… good or bad… you have a reason for doing it. For example, I had a woman who I met with who had the habit of eating a box of cornstarch daily. She wanted me to help her stop. I explained to her that there is a reason that she was eating a box of cornstarch every day, and she had to find out what that reason was before I could help her. Normally, I would help someone discover the reason; but in this instance, I advised her to make an appointment with her doctor. Eating a box of cornstarch is an indication that your unconscious mind is telling you that you have some sort of nutrient deficiency.
What if she was eating a bag of potato chips daily? That’s a different story… a different reason. Over the years, I have discovered countless reasons for people downing a bag of chips every day.
- My grandma used to give me potato chips whenever I got hurt.
- My mom let me get a bag of potato chips if I was good at the dentist.
- To settle me down when I threw a fit, my dad would throw a bag of potato chips to me.
- Potato chips make me feel happy.
- I am able to relax at night when I veg on the sofa with a bag of chips.
- When I got on the honor roll, my parents always took me to the grocery to pick out any kind of chips that I wanted.
It is going to be a very difficult process of eliminating chips from your life if you are relying on willpower alone. Absolutely, it can be done; but the majority of people tend not to achieve what they had hoped. Using willpower alone does not take into account that you are doing this for a reason.
You must know the reason so you can reach the same destination but with a different vehicle. If your bag of chips helps you to relax, then you must find a better vehicle to help you reach your destination that is as easy or easier than grabbing a bag of chips. If you do not satisfy the reason for your habit, then you are going to default to how you have always satisfied it.
When you make your plan to change, take time to sit down and write out a clear and complete reason of why you participate in this habit. Your answer should not be… “I have to stop eating chocolate, because I’m getting too fat.” Your answer needs to get to the core… the real reason. For example, “I use chocolate as a way to feel a moment of pleasure when I feel lonely.”
Now, let’s assume that you know the real reason behind your habit, and it’s a bad reason. Perhaps you want to start going to the gym, and your reason for not going to the gym in the past is because you hate working out. What do you do then?
Your reasons that you have for wanting to go to the gym of losing weight or becoming healthier or to getting swole (as my children would say) are all great reasons, but your reasons for not going to the gym far outweigh the reason to go. I recommend chunking your goal down to smaller parts and accomplishing the smaller parts one at a time. If you find it difficult to go to the gym, put on your workout clothes and then decide of you want to go or stay home. If your time to workout is after work, drive to the gym and park your car and then decide if you are going to go in or go home. Many times, a small action will give you the momentum to continue moving. And if you decide to stay home after putting on your workout clothes or start the car back up after parking at the gym, then be okay with that. Let’s get the small steps accomplished first.
After you make it a habit to put on your workout clothes, then decide that the next step is to put on your workout clothes and drive to the gym. Then decide if you are going to go in to workout or go back home. At some point it is going to be more painful to not go to the gym than to just simply go. The great news is that you already built the habits up to this point to give you the motivation and momentum to achieve the ultimate goal you desire.
As the saying goes, “There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.”
How long does it take for people to change a habit using hypnosis?
There is one thing that holds true for anyone who wants to make a change using hypnosis or not… It takes 21 days to change a habit, right?
Yet, this is what you will hear from most people, even “experts”.
In the 1950s, Dr. Maxwell Maltz noticed a pattern among his plastic surgery patients. He noticed that it would take his patients a minimum of 21 days to get used to seeing their new face. With an arm or leg amputee patient, Maltz noticed that his patient would sense a phantom limb for a minimum of 21 days before adjusting to the new situation. Maltz wrote, “These, and many other commonly observed phenomena tend to show that it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.”
Most people forget or never knew that Maltz said “a minimum of about 21 days.” Current studies concur that it does take a minimum of 21 days to change a habit. In a study from 2009, it was shown to take anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit.
Hypnosis does not make you stop smoking or lose weight or relieve stress or anything else. Hypnosis does, however, greatly speed up your learning curve. In my initial session with my clients, I explain that I can move in with them and stop them from putting a cigarette or food in their mouth every time they reach for one or make them take 10 minutes to themselves when they are feeling overwhelmed or anxious; and I can encourage them to replace that old habit with a more pleasurable and healthy alternative. Over a 2 to 8 month period, they would have a new, more positive habit. — OR — They can commit to 4 to 8 weeks of using hypnosis and achieve what they want in 75% less time… and without a new house guest.
Over the past 29 years, I have had a number of clients make a permanent change after our first session together. This is not the norm. Most people are looking at a good 30 to 60 days of committed practice.
Can I change a habit with only hypnosis audio programs?
Specifically, it depends on you. This is not a limitation of hypnosis. The success of making a change is dependent on your level of motivation and commitment.
If you want to lose weight and get in shape, I can get you the most expensive exercise equipment and the best personal coach that money can buy; but if you do not use the equipment and meet with your coach, you will never reach your goals. The same is true with any change. I can give you all the tools you need to learn how to make a change; but if you do not listen to the hypnosis audio programs as advised, you will continue to stay the same.
I have had countless clients make permanent changes using only my hypnosis audio programs. These people had leverage on themselves. For example, some were told by their cardiologist that they had to stop smoking or their 5-year-old daughter began to mimic smoking with her crayons or their brother died of lung cancer. Others, however, needed to be accountable to someone. These are the people who I see in regular sessions for a period of time… in person or online. I ask them how many times they listened to their audio recordings over the past week, what results they are seeing, what their biggest challenge is, and how close they are to their goal. Some people need this, because they are unable to hold themselves accountable.
When someone falls short of their goal using a hypnosis audio program, many times it is like a patient who does not take their prescribed medication. It is not the medication… it is their noncompliance.
Whether hypnosis is your tool for change or if you choose to take a different direction, discovering and satisfying your reason for participating in a habit and chunking your goal down into steps that you can master and build upon will put you far ahead of the pack.