New habits vs old. why is It so hard to change?

By William Seidman Conflict between established old habits and developing new ones is something that’s uncomfortably familiar to most of us. The human brain defends the old, ingrained habits as it resists the new practices. We’re programmed to resist change. Think about the last time you started a new exercise program. If you’re like most people, you were determined that this time would be different, this time you would stick with it and succeed. Over the first several weeks, you did. Then, the pressures of daily life, work and/or family got in the way. After about six weeks, you had many good reasons for not going to the gym. You felt uncomfortable, tired, and maybe even sick! You were ready to dump the new positive behavior and fall back into your more comfortable old habits. Most people have had this experience. It happens because there is a battle going on in the brain between the old and new behaviors and thought patterns, and that feels uncomfortable. Knowing that the brain generates this resistance, and that it is a normal part of learning, is a recent breakthrough in the neuroscience of learning. Explaining the science of this to learners helps them get past the barrier. Our coaches tell their groups to expect to feel uncomfortable and anxious around the six-week mark. Just being aware that there is an issue helps people to recognize the problem and to work through the feelings. These comments and the discomfort disappear with some conscious interventions and support, and about two more weeks of practice and Learning Tasks. What we say to people is: “The old habits are fighting the new habits. Keep going and it will go away soon.”  ]]>

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