Here's your secret weapon to helping habits stick.

Uncategorized Sep 15, 2020
Think about the last goal you set. Was it a wellness goal, like exercising or meditating daily? Now, for a moment of personal reflection and honesty, were you successful at implementing the habits you needed to reach that goal? I hope you were, but know that you’re not alone if you didn’t stick with it. A university study showed that 92 percent of new year’s resolutions go unachieved…92 percent!
What makes setting a new, healthy habit so hard? The habits that are bad for you seem so easy to form, right? Picking romantic partners that are unsupportive sure comes easy!
To understand how habits form, you need to understand the neural pathways that are formed in your brain. When cells in your brain communicate with each other they send that communication in the form of neural pathways. When you repeat an activity, like riding a bike, the neural pathway strengthens. These communication pathways allow for repeated behaviors to become automatic. Sometimes this is good, like when you wake up in the morning you habitually brush your teeth first thing. Sometimes this is not as good, like when you walk into the kitchen you automatically scan the pantry for something sweet.
Don’t worry if you are starting to recognize how some of your neural pathways may be linking negative cause and effects that can cripple new habits. If I see cookies, cookies must be eaten! The good news is you can rewire neuro pathways by repeating new and different habits. You can start to link cookies to not eating cookies!
Your secret weapon in developing new neural pathways is this: visualization. Science is showing that you can form new neural pathways for healthy habits by repeating a behavior and by visualizing a new behavior. That’s right, thinking about and visualizing yourself doing your new habit (like writing in a gratitude journal daily or hitting the gym 4 times a week) can help you create new neural pathways. That’s because your brain can’t tell the difference between performing an activity and just imagining it.
Here’s how to do it: Visualization can be done by closing your eyes, picturing yourself completing your new habit, and – this part is important – feeling the emotions you’d feel as if it was happening in real life. For example, you want to set a new habit of standing to greet your partner with a hug and smile when they come home for work. In addition to doing that, once a day also visualize your partner walking in as you put a big smile on your face and walk over with a hug. Feel the love and passion you have for them. See their positive reaction in your mind. Before long, the neural pathways will help deepen that connection of your partner’s arrival and your warm, friendly greeting.
And just like that, a new habit has been formed!

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