Have you ever wondered why it is so hard to unlearn certain behaviors and instill new habits? There is actually a scientific explanation for this and what we can do about it! 🤓 Everything we take in is “input” (i.e. anything we read, watch, observe, etc.) 📥 Neuroscientifically speaking, when the brain is exposed to input, our neurons (or brain cells) light up and communicate with one another, essentially creating a pathway from neuron to neuron 🗣 The more frequently we are exposed to the same input, the more that pathway lights up, which establishes a behavioral pattern and/or habit. This is where we get the term “hard wired in the brain.” 🧠 Those hard-wired pathways essentially run on autopilot in our subconscious and determine our behavior and how we show up in life ✈️ So, when we have a desire to start a new career or become a different person or instill a new habit, the brain’s old pathways light up so intensely, they can actually override our desire to do something new 🤯
When we challenge those hard-wired pathways by trying something new, we actually experience a physiological response. Some examples of this ⤵️ 1️⃣ Waking up earlier 😴 If you are used to sleeping in until 8am every morning but you want to get up at 6am, when you try to actually wake up at 6am, it feels AWFUL because the brain says, “Nope. We are not this person. We wake up at 8am.”
2️⃣ Reading more books 📚 If you aren’t a regular reader and you pick up a book and try to start reading, you’ll notice how hard it is to focus on what you’re reading. You might feel distracted or even restless. The brain wants what is easiest for you in the moment, so maybe it’s telling you to turn on the TV or respond to a text.
The brain will always naturally gravitate toward the path of least resistance because it is safe and comfortable. The good news is when we do something frequently and intensely enough, we can create a new program in the brain to run on autopilot, thus creating a new habit or behavior! So, if you are wanting to wake up earlier, do it gradually, and do it consistently. Set your alarm to go off 10-15 minutes earlier than you’re used to. Do that for a week until it feels more routine for you, and then, repeat that process until you reach your new wake-up time. For example, if you normally get up at 8am, don't suddenly change it to 6am; try 7:45am first. The same thing goes if you are wanting to read more. Choose a shorter book with easy-to-read print, and start by reading a little at a time. You could leave the book on your nightstand, and set an appointment with yourself to read for 5 minutes before bed every night and gradually work your way up to longer reading periods, longer books, etc.
The key to retraining your brain to do what you want it to is to 1) make it easy, 2) go slow, and 3) be consistent. Your brain is always going to resist anything new because to it, new = a threat, and your brain wants to keep you safe.
When this happens (because it will), know that nothing has gone wrong. You’re on the right path, and with enough frequency and focus, it will get easier!