One of the most common experiences that humans have when they’re reaching for a new goal, whether it’s reducing their sugar intake, exercising more or getting out of debt, is that they begin the process with a huge amount of enthusiasm and focus. There is nothing quite like the rush of motivation we feel when we believe we are about to change things for the better! But while we start the process with the best of intentions, it is likely that at some point we’ll hit motivation burnout and our momentum will slow to a crawl. And because that feels SO much less fun, it often means we just give up.
The team here at Clear Minds gets emails every week from people who began their hypnotherapy journey with wonderful intentions, and are now finding that they’ve slid back into old habits. They’ve managed to not drink any alcohol for a whole week, but somehow they’ve lost the point of it now and can’t get it back, and that glass of wine is looking very appealing. Or they’ve been sticking to their weight loss goals but suddenly find themselves craving sugar and feeling their determination slipping.
Because this is such a human (and understandable) place to find yourself when you’re trying to change a deeply ingrained habit or way of being, we thought we’d offer some guidance about how to move through it and come out the other side with fresh focus:
Recognize that this stage is totally NORMAL
Everyone faces it at some point, honestly they do. If you think that you’re the only one, or you imagine that somehow you’re ‘worse’ than others, then you’re much more likely to abandon the whole idea, reinforcing your belief that you’re somehow less able to do it than everyone else. Don’t abandon yourself like that!
Be willing to look a little deeper
It’s unlikely that the habit you’re trying to overcome just appeared one day in a vacuum. It’s wonderful that you’re ready to tackle it head-on, but it’s important that you be willing to look under the surface and see what might be below it. What issues exist in you that drive the behaviours you want to change? Often it is underlying anxiety, for example, that causes us to reach for carb-heavy comfort food. When you are able to recognize what state of mind usually causes you to make the behavioural choices you’re trying to change, it is much easier to address those head on. So paying attention to these at this point is a very wise, self-caring thing to do. and some of these sessions might help:
Anxiety Melting Essentials Pack
Overcome Adverse Childhood Experiences
Even if you need to stop and rest a while, or address underlying issues like anxiety or depression, continue to listen to your hypnotherapy sessions. Trust that they’re still working on gently shifting your subconscious beliefs and habits even while your conscious mind has decided that it’s not working. Every time you listen you are reinforcing the positive direction you want to move in, and you will eventually see and feel the results. You likely have years of ingrained habits of thought, action and belief to shift, so keep gently at it and look out for the subtle shifts that show it’s working. Which brings us to…
Celebrate small wins
Pay attention and celebrate EVERY positive shift you can detect, even if it seems small. What we pay attention to amplifies and if you’re focused on all the ways you’re doing it wrong then your mindset will quickly falter. Instead notice every little way you are thinking and acting differently now as a result of your choice to transform, and encourage yourself along as you would do a child who is learning to swim, for example. Your mental monologue has a powerful influence over your mood and motivation, so chat to yourself in a kind way, tell yourself you know how hard you’re working, how tough it is, and how much you know you can do it. It might sound silly, but it really helps when you hit that plateau and want to give up. Cheer the heck out of yourself. Use pom poms if you must.
Offer yourself relief
Your body and soul are seeking comfort in the face of the changes you’re trying to instil. This is also normal! Don’t deny yourself comfort, don’t be the harsh taskmaster - change is HARD. And you DO need comfort. However, are there other ways you can find it that don’t mean you’re turning back to the thing you’re trying to move away from? Can you spend some wonderful time with a friend doing something you really enjoy? Can you make yourself a delicious and nutritious meal that feels like self-care? Can you find DIFFERENT ways to scratch the itch that don’t leave you feeling deprived? Switching up your habitual ways of dealing with discomfort can really help when you are tempted to just go back to your old ways of feeling ‘better’.
Remember your ‘Why’
Humans are evolutionarily designed to focus on the short-term over the long term. We pay attention to what is most pressing at the moment, often to the detriment of what is wiser in the future. Writing down WHY you are doing what you’re doing and reminding yourself of it as many times as you need can be a effective way to reignite your intention.
If all else fails, a very powerful practice is to lessen the tension inside yourself by actually ALLOWING yourself to do the thing you’re trying not to do, but this time to do it with FULL ATTENTION. And assess, with your critical thinking brain, how you’re actually feeling as you do it. Is it really bringing you the physical and emotional pleasure you imagine it does? We usually practise our habits with ‘half a mind’…the part of our brain where habits reside is our basal ganglia, deep down and mostly invisible to us. However, if you really slow down and calmly check in with yourself while you’re performing a habitual action, studies show that your ability to make a different choice about it the following time actually increases. You’ve brought your habitual behaviour out of the base of your brain and into your frontal lobe, and in the light of that you are in a much better position to reassess whether it actually feels good or not. And from there you can make a conscious (hopefully different) choice next time.
These are some of the steps that can help you move through the totally normal dip in motivation that you’re almost certain to encounter as you go about the important work of becoming a healthier and happier human. Please reach out to us if you have any further questions or need help with any part of your journey.
The Clear Minds Team