Learning a new behavior can be quite challenging, let alone more than one. This is something that I frequently hear from my clients, in addition to personally experiencing this for myself. With that said, I am reminded of that typical saying, “you can’t teach an old dog a new trick”…well I say that depends on the dog, and also maybe the trick. However, all kidding aside, when we are in the process of changing it can be very difficult to give up our old behaviors. It’s only natural to get accustomed to doing what we always do, and over time these habitual behaviors feel very much a part of us; therefore, making it downright scary to let go of these habits, especially before we are ready to do so. In fact, just letting go of our old habits can stir up feelings of fear and loss, so we want to work through this process gently by adding a healthy addition to our life, rather than abruptly trying to let go of our old ways.
The thing to keep in mind here is that it is essential to feed the new behavior, not the old one, and when the new habit gets added into your life, it then becomes the focus. And the good news is that you don’t have to actively let go of the old habit, but instead proceed to incorporate a new positive behavior into your life. Build on the new behavior and as you practice using these new habits, over time your old behaviors will gradually diminish.
Start out by concentrating on just one particular area of your life. For example, you may decide that you want to create more peace in your life. To do this, begin slowly by taking one positive action the first week such as sitting quietly for 5-10 minutes, every other day, while calmly breathing as you listen to relaxing music. The following week you may want to perform this activity everyday. And after a few weeks, you may want to add additional positive actions that promote peace in your life. Eventually, you will notice that the negative stressful behaviors will subside on their own.
Another example to consider occurs when you decide to eat healthier. Once this decision is made, most people tend to start by eliminating the “bad” stuff; however, rather than deny yourself your favorite foods it is far better to add the healthy foods to your diet. Before long, as you get more accustomed to the new healthier additions, the old stuff will not be quite as appealing. As you can see, it’s really not necessary to cut the old habits out cold turkey, since this usually causes a personal retaliation of some sort; but rather allow them to fade out naturally as you get more comfortable with your new ways.
This technique and way of thinking can apply to all areas of your life. Remember we are only human, and therefore it takes us time to adapt, so EASY DOES IT.