Journey to wellness: Fundamental components of habit change
By Josiah Groth
Many of us want to eat better, spend more quality time with our family, or lose weight in order to become healthy and happy. If we get down into it, the truth is that our lives are set up based on habit patterns. The work of becoming the person you desire to be is the work of changing current habits into positive habits. Today I want to focus on the fundamental parts of habit changes.
Habits change over time, and the best time frames of change vary from person to person. Understanding some of the pros and cons of time frames will help you to choose options that work better for you.
We have all heard of stopping “cold turkey.” On the other extreme is the slow and gentle approach of “weaning.” Stopping cold turkey requires larger amounts of effort and willpower for a shorter duration of time. There will also be greater resistance and drama because the change is more sudden. However, there will be a shorter duration of time where you will be tempted by your old habits or where you can lose the focus of your intention and slip off the wagon.
Weaning is gentler but slower, and it requires consistency of effort over time. How much heat can you handle? How distractible are you?
The second fundamental part of habit change is the level of control you adopt. It is far easier to give over control and have something else force you to change than it is to work within yourself with discipline and consistency. However, by going with the external force, you open yourself up for regression because the core impulses that caused you to fall into your negative habit patterns are all still there.
A great example to illustrate this is the phenomenon of the freshman 15. High school students have a rigid external discipline forced on them by their parents and the schedule of events in which they participate. As graduates enter college, all their external structure is lost, and their own interests begin to shape their lives strongly. Enough students gain 15 pounds that very first year away from their externally imposed structure to make it a well talked about phenomenon.
People seek careers in big companies or join the army for the opportunity of “being shaped” into something all the time. Are you the type of person that needs a lot of external supports?
Remember: Quicker changes require shorter bursts of more intense discipline and create more dramatic resistance over a shorter duration.
Caution: Handing over control may give great results, but did you or just your circumstances change? Will your new health and happiness last only as long as those external supports hold you steady?
Josiah Groth is the owner of Back to Bliss Wellness. More information on his practice is available at backtoblisswellness.com.