Can’t help myself

Do you find that you ‘can’t help yourself’?  You have a habit or pattern that you want to break, but for some reason your brain just doesn’t seem to want to let go?

Getting beyond the gatekeeper of your own mind is the first step to creating true and lasting change.  Particularly when you have a pattern or behaviour (habit) which you are keen to move beyond. 

This ‘gatekeeper’ (which is mostly your amygdala, a small part deep in your brain) works to keep you safe.  It has  the really important function of protecting you from threats and potential dangers. – and we should all be very thankful that it operates every moment of every day to keep us safe.

The brain develops shortcuts and ‘habits’ – patterns of behaviours, thoughts and feelings which it creates on autopilot.  As one expert I heard once say, the brain is ‘smart about being dumb’ and ‘dumb about being smart’ – which means it runs extremely complex processes without any effort (dumb about being smart) but once it creates a habit pattern, it doesn’t take the time or effort to really check if this is the best it can do (smart about being dumb).

These habits and mental patterns run ‘behind’ the gatekeeper.  As such, the gatekeeper is looking the other way.  Often people run unhelpful patterns and strategies out of habit and what would normally be ‘detected’ as a threat from outside runs without issue or challenge within.

Sometimes things that served us well in the past no longer serve us, but because the pattern has been created, it runs on automatic pilot with the gatekeeper looking the other way.

The gatekeeper is on full alert when we try and change a habit or pattern, though!  When working with clients (or when individuals are working on themselves), the ‘gatekeeper’ can try and protect these habits even when they are unhelpful – because it is scrutinising every signal coming in for threat – even to old patterns and our ego.

This is why hypnosis and rapid change processes of NLP can make a difference as they bypass the gatekeeper and allow communication with the whole mind.

Even getting past the gatekeeper is not always enough.  Have you ever noticed how hard it can be to break a habit, no matter how much you want to? 

Even when you consciously want to stop something, the unconscious mind can find ways back to the habit or find ways to avoid really confronting or altering the pattern.

In the clinic, I work with the unconscious processes.  By encouraging the gatekeeper to allow us ‘inside’, we can work together to find the resources in the unconscious to help you shift the patterns that lead to habits and unwanted behaviours – or release your potential for greater performance.

What is true is that the unconscious will often find ways to maintain its status quo.  It can be very ‘smart’ about remaining ‘dumb’.  Putting up defenses of old patterns and finding ways to get back to where it was before.

However, by working with the unconscious and helping it tap into its own resources, we bring the ‘cleverness’ of the brain to bear on solving its own issues. 

So how can you break a habit for yourself?

One of the most powerful ways to break a habit is to have really strong leverage as to why stopping the habit is so important.  That is, not just your motivation, but why you are REALLY motivated.  Critically, it has to be really important to you (and your unconscious mind).  This means it has to be congruent to your values and a powerful force to encourage your unconscious mind out of its patterns.  If you are doing it for someone else or because you  ‘have to’, breaking a habit is much more challenging.

Offering the unconscious an alternate pattern or process can also be useful.  Because every behaviour (including habits) are ‘strategies’ or ‘processes’ made up of discrete steps, removing or replacing one of these steps can make the whole ‘pattern’ no longer acceptable or attractive to the unconscious mind.  SImply make the first step (or a key step) difficult or replaced with something else and the habit ‘process’ is broken.

Have you had a behaviour or habit that you wanted to break? 
Did you find it easy or difficult?
What ‘leverage’ did you find to make this change possible?
How did you interrupt your own pattern or strategy?

If you want to explore how your unconscious mind can be encouraged to solve its own problems at a deep level for lasting results, contact me now.

Stay well,