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  • Writer's pictureNicole Strachan

Habit Refresh

Updated: Feb 1

Welcome to week 1 of the Designed Living habit refresh. During this month there will be a weekly post to guide you through building the skills you need to create fulfilling habits. Habits create the habitats we live in and are essential for our being. Habits are the outcome of the rituals(routines) you complete in a day. Most of our rituals are automatic and we complete most of our habits with very little effort or thought. Driving your car to work, drinking coffee and eating meals are all examples of habits we conduct daily, and usually with almost no conscious awareness of the behaviours behind them. But there are also other habits that can be mentally consuming and we are highly aware of the effort it takes to complete. These can differ for everyone, but for a lot of people, they can be habits like paying their bills on time, preparing healthy meals or prioritizing daily movement. Most people would agree that those are healthy habits that make you feel better, but due to stressors from work, our families and overall circumstances, they can be hard behaviours for you to connect to and complete easily and consistently.

Your resistance to better habits

When we have a habit that we want to embody but don't it's because we have some sort of subconscious resistance to it. There are many ways to uncover what your subconscious thoughts or beliefs are however that is not what I am going to guide you through. This is because the key to reprogramming your subconscious is to be aware of the behaviours you are resisting consciously. Once you are aware of that then you are already starting to rewire what you believe unconsciously. For example, if you are always paying your bills late, your subconscious fear may be about making money. If you never find a form of exercise you can commit to you may have a subconscious fear of your physical ability. If you're not consistently preparing healthy meals you may have a subconscious fear of the costs of inflation. Just joking, that's all of our conscious fears right now. But what it may be is shame regarding your eating habits of the past. Most of the things we resist or procrastinate on are our conscious patterns of subconsious resistance.

How to begin to reframe your thoughts

Mantras are an amazing way to reframe your thoughts and empower your actions. They are not the only way but they are a therapeutic modality that everyone has access to. I know it can seem hokey to repeat simple sentences each day and expect to change and it can be hard for us to believe something so uncomplicated and easy really works. But that's the thing, our brains love easy and predictable, so that's why mantras work. I won't go deep into the science of mantras however if you pay close attention to your favourite athletes, great leaders and even your favourite brands, one of the things they have in common is the mantras they live by. If the word mantra doesn't resonate with you call it a slogan, call it a mission statement, call it what you want as long as you remember mantras work.

Mantras are you speaking directly to your subconsious and reinforcing the truth you know of yourself versus letting your ego keep you operating out of fear. When designed right a mantra is your fact-based evidence against the wild scenario your ego is creating. So by creating a mantra and repeating it to yourself, your ego starts to listen to the facts instead of the fear and you then allow yourself to continue with the new behaviour you want to embody.

How to implement your mantra for the habits you want

To incorporate your new habit mantra into your day this is what you will do. Set a time of day to take 15 minutes to journal and meditate on this month's mantra. Write your mantra down 10 times and recite it to yourself too. Then sit in a quiet space (alone if possible), and envision all the ways your new habit will welcome ease and flow into your days. If sitting still is hard for you, you can choose active meditation instead. After journaling take a walk instead of sitting. However, leave the electronics on DND for the remainder of your 15 minutes. Your meditative activity needs to be low to no distractions. What the meditation will do for you is calm down your sympathetic nervous system and increase your cognition, memory and attention. 15 minutes may be hard to complete at first so I recommend setting a timer to help you with this practice. Your mind will most likely wander from your initial thoughts, however, that's ok. Just let it. The most important part of meditation is consistently allowing yourself to explore your subconsious without limitations. If something major comes up for you, journal it and will help you release or reinforce it.

When creating your mantra I want you to follow a couple of rules:

  • Use positive words. Your subconscious can't process words like "no", "can't", never or "but".

  • Keep an active and present tense by using the word "am". Our brains need active commands. "I will" is vague and schedules your behaviour to an arbitrary date, therefore not connecting yourself to your current actions.

  • Have fun with it. Joy is an extremely important element to carry through every action you complete. It gets your dopamine and serotonin levels up. These happy hormones are a key component of our neurological reward system and make it easier for us to adopt and make new habits.

Just in case you are having a hard time creating a mantra I have one you can use. "I am my life's designer". Short and sweet. Why that mantra? Because by adopting and embodying a new habit you are literally designing your life to become the person you want to be. Continue using this mantra and meditating daily. Focus on the simple power of knowing you have the ability to design your days to live in any way you want. Next week we will focus on the routines that will support aka engineer your new habit. So during this week choose an exciting reward to give yourself at the end of the month for creating and sticking to your new habit and I'll see you next week.

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