3 Things about the mind (part 3) (and a bit about habits.)

The mind loves what is familiar. The familiar has kept you alive so far, right? So why change? Change can seem hard and daunting, however strong your desire is to change something.

A fine example many people can recognise is trying to go 'on a diet'. Familiar ways of eating are so engrained in just what we do - whether it is going out with friends to the pub for drinks followed by a takeaway, or just the day to day habits such as biccies with a cup of tea A lovely client said to me 'A cup of tea is just wet without one!" Smoking is another – there is a strong belief that giving up smoking is very hard, and that many people try and fail. Having this belief is actually what makes it so hard!

To change such habits with such locked in beliefs takes effort, and needs to be replaced with a new and better habit. This can take a long time. Some people say 21 days, some say 28, now people are saying 66. It is probably different for everyone.

Changing a habit using willpower can be terribly hard because the habit is set in the subconscious where all the beliefs and emotions are attached to the particular action. To change, you need to lay down the new beliefs and lay down new neuron connections in the brain which then become stronger with repeated use. The old saying 'If you don't use it, you lose it' applies to habits of thought too, but to stop doing something that you have done for 40 or 50 years absolutely requires a new action to replace it. A lack of new action leaves a void that your mind will fill with something quickly and it would love just to revert to the old one as it is familiar and the connection in the brain is still there.

But with smoking or similar addictive habits you don't want to be finding a new addiction. So how can you break the habit? By changing the emotions behind the habit and changing the beliefs – which is where accessing the subconscious in hypnosis is so effective. The emotions attached are those that made a person want to start in the first place. With smoking, it is often to feel that you connect to a particular group of people. Most smokers start in their teens, when the need to connect and belong to a group is intense. There is also a need to feel more adult, as they are moving away from being a child living under the parent's authority, and want to find their own social group. This emotional connection is easy to understand and then disconnect from as an adult under hypnosis.

There are also the mistaken beliefs that smokers use to maintain the habit, such as helping to relax. It is the long breath out that helps relax the body, and the relief of the nervous system that was craving the expected next fix of nicotine. It is the action of taking a pause and stopping for a moment that aids relaxation. Nicotine is a stimulant which raises blood pressure and heart rate. It is poisonous to the body, so is not relaxing. By gently challenging someone's beliefs under hypnosis and redirecting them to the truth of the matter, the beliefs can be changed making the habit something they have outgrown.

With chemical addictions, the physical craving is not the issue, I am sure. It is the underlying belief and emotions that the habit is serving. I have a feeling that can wait for another post.

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