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Breaking Habits


From what I have read, many papers and websites state it takes 21 days to break a habit. Now, personally I find this whole ‘journey’ to be quite comparable to a typical restrictive, extreme, habit changing diet. So, 21 days might seem comparatively reasonable. However, since we have already passed our four-week mark, I’m going to have to conclude that my habits have not been curbed. That being said, our habits have changed, but I don’t feel like it’s easier or more natural just yet. We have embarked on some pretty drastic life changes and not just by what we eat, or what we wear or how we spend our free time…it’s all of the above, AND MORE!! I instantly know we have saved thousands of dollars already. At this point, I would have hit up the new Homesense, Michaels Craft Superstore, probably a Rickis’s 40% off sale, Gap for kids clothes, and I’m sure it would have NOT stopped there! I would feel productive and efficient in my time use by fitting one of the latter into my schedule. I’m a planner, and feel like I utilize my time efficiently. I am also coming to realize, I’m a shopper and enjoy looking for great deals… this is still hard for me to verbalize. Not only to share, but to curb that habit. Can I tell you how many times while blindly staring at the screen, I want to procrastinate and just start window shopping or online perusing!?!?! I am a sucker for a ‘great deal’!! Even if a great deal means I won’t use it for the next four years! That’s so awful… how can it be a great deal if it will sit in my basement, collecting dust and space, only holding onto the potential idea that it might possibly find a potential purpose in years to come?! Awful! Why do I get some kind of instant high off of spending my hard earned money?! Why do I think it will somehow give me happiness in owning a materialistic thing?! I’m ashamed to think so. I’m also ashamed to say that it started at a young age as well… I can recall wanting the ‘cool’ clothes and wanting to fit in. I wanted to save my money for the one pair of name brand shoes, GAP sweatshirt, or GUESS jeans. Why did I put so much pride over nonsense things?!? I’m embarrassed that I wasted my time and still do have wasted thoughts and space over it, when I know what is really important in life.

What have I discovered in my research?....

So, what about trying to break an unwanted habit?

It turns out the two - habit forming and breaking - can be quite closely linked. As psychologist Timothy Pychyl explains to Alison Nastasi at Hopes and Fears, they’re two sides of the same coin: "Breaking a habit really means establishing a new habit, a new pre-potent response. The old habit or pattern of responding is still there (a pattern of neuron responses in the brain), but it is less dominant (less potent)."

"It's much easier to start doing something new than to stop doing something habitual without a replacement behaviour," says neuroscientist Elliot Berkman. "That's one reason why smoking cessation aids such as nicotine gum or inhalers tend to be more effective than the nicotine patch."

Therefore, what has made this journey easier and a more management ‘new lifestyle’, is the idea that we have not just ‘quit’ our habits, fads or diets, we have established new and healthier ways of living. This idea is even far more settling to practice when I know we have little monkeys who are always observing and watching our every move. We are establishing their future habits and values. I know what’s most important in life, and what’s most important is NOT the path most travelled, nor what’s most comfortable. I want to live a life of cherished memories, love and laughter….and I know I will find it!

Nina Alexander

Simply Green Mums

XO

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