What future are you creating for yourself?

A habit is creating a neural pathway. This is why it is so easy to fall in line with your habit and not even think about it anymore. This is also why it can be so difficult to break a bad habit.

Have you ever been to a cattle ranch? If so, you know their pastures are full of cattle paths that are quite obvious. You can see the exact same path these cattle take to go out to pasture as they use to come in from pasture. To me, this is a great example of a neural pathway. And, yes, some of ours can run as deep as a cattle path!

So what do you do? You create a new path! Yes, I know…not that easy, right? A way to help is something we reference in hypnotherapy, and that is a pattern interrupt. You need to interrupt that pattern, flow, habit, thinking, etc., so that it alerts you to cause a pause and make you see you are going down the same cattle path again.

Sounds great, but how do I do it? First, be consciously aware that you desire to create a new neural pathway. Keep yourself alert and become aware of how much you have autopiloted your habit. The next time you find yourself walking to the pantry for a salty snack at 8 pm, when you settle down to watch TV, realize what you are doing. As you open that pantry door, say out loud, “STOP!” Trust me, doing this out loud is a pattern interrupt. It’s enough to awaken you from the routine you created. If that is not enough, then alter your schedule so sitting on the couch at 8 pm is no longer what you do. The neural pathway was created by connecting the couch, TV, and salty snack. Create a new connection – maybe a chair, book, cup of tea, or flavored ice water. Maybe it is a leisurely walk with your dog, so you have nature time and ditch the screen time.

At a cattle ranch, they would create a new path by switching the area where the cattle leave the gate to enter the pasture. They might put up temporary fences to block off the old path. They do whatever it takes because the deeper the path, the more dangerous it can become if it is a poor habit (trust me, I know this because I was on a horseback riding excursion in North Dakota years ago, and my horse stepped in a cattle path. When he stepped down so far, it caused me almost to fall off this giant horse, but instead, I was perpendicular to the horse, squeezing my legs around him with all my might asking the lead, “what do I do?” All while embarrassing the hell out of my kids and the lead mad at me because “I should have known better.” Somehow I miraculously was able to shift my weight and get myself back on his back. That was a fun day!

We need to do the same with our habits that are destructive or not productive for our future selves. What neural pathways have you created that are no longer serving you? Recognize them. See the connection points. Break the connection points with a pattern interrupt. Replace it with something productive and helpful that will move you in a more positive direction.

Need support? I can help!

~Connie Jo Holmes