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[personal profile] akienm
I remember…

I remember figuring out that there was a formula that I used when I successfully changed a habit. I don't even remember now what habit I was trying to change. :)

I realized tho that a couple of times in a row, I'd developed new habits like so:

1) Decide what the undesirable behavior is
2) Through introspection, figure out what need the behavior was trying to meet
3) Figure out something else I could do that would meet the need
4) Commit to myself that I'd do that new behavior, including rehearsing it in my head.

This was all well and good, but I kept not doing the new behavior. Sometimes it was because the new behavior didn't actually meet the need (which meant more introspection to identify that fact and to develop another alternative behavior)… But most often, it was because I was trying to learn something new, and I just hadn't habituated it yet. So…

5) Notice, after the fact, with compassion, that I hadn't done the thing.

The first time I did this systematically, it was like two weeks after the event that I realized I hadn't done the new thing.

6) Reward myself with an "attaboy" for noticing the failure.

It wasn't until much later that I realized how crucially important that step was to keep me going.

7) Commit once again to the new behavior, and rehearse it again.

What I noticed was that with each successive miss on performing the new behavior, the interval between the miss and my noticing the miss got shorter and shorter. Until eventually, I was able to notice in real time and make a conscious decision to do the new behavior.

This has been one of the two or three most important skills I've developed.

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Akien MacIain

August 2017

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