Changing Habits: How to Interrupt the Feedback Loop
My time alone is coming to a close. The family gets back on Friday. I’m really excited to see them, but I have enjoyed the time a lot more than I expected to. I worked a ton on the Love After Kids Relationship Toolkit online program as well as on an intro course, which is a relationship challenge. Both will be launching in the first quarter of 2017. I also read a book called Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza. The last part of the book is a 4-week meditation program to help to implement the ideas that he writes about. I’m currently finishing week 1 of the program.
Dispenza emphasizes the importance of making change happen internally before it actually happens externally, which is essentially manifesting the change that you want to occur. It’s not in an omnipotent you can control everything kind of way. Rather, it’s in a quantum physics, everything is connected, epigenetics kind of way:
“The latest research supports the notion that we have a natural ability to change the brain and body by thought alone, so that it looks biologically like some future event has already happened. Because you can make thought more real than anything else, you can change who you are from brain cell to gene, given the right understanding.” — Dr. Joe Dispenza, from Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself
It’s not enough though, according to Dispenza, to initiate change via your thoughts only. It’s not enough via feelings only either. They have to work in tandem. Let’s look at an example.
In my early twenties, I lived in New York City. My moods and state of mind fluctuated wildly back then. I really was at the mercy of my mind. One day, I’d wake up feeling good and energetic and attractive and I would go out and walk down the street and make eye contact with attractive women walking by. The next day, I could be feeling depressed and insecure and anxious and I’d walk down the street feeling invisible and unattractive.
My thoughts and feelings were a chaotic mess and they were banging up against the environment like arcade pinball. I lacked the awareness, insight and control to do something about it. In hindsight, when I think about how drastically different my experiences were from one day to the next, both internally and with my environment, I can see clearly how I was unwittingly programming my days before they started.
There’s so much that’s always happening behind the scenes and outside of our awareness. Thoughts and feelings, states of mind and body cause synaptic changes to occur in the brain. They impact our behavior and how we interact with our environment, which often then reinforces how we were thinking and feeling as in the personal example I provided. It’s happening all the time. It’s a big dynamic feedback loop. But the more you feed it with the same nutrients (thoughts, feelings and interactions), the more you reinforce the status quo.
I’ll be speaking more and more about this in the coming months both with my meditation practice related to the book, a workshop I’m attending at the end of January and the launching of the relationship challenge and course.
My challenge to you is the following:
Take a few minutes to think about your own repetitive thoughts, feelings and behaviors and how they might be reinforcing your habitual ways of being.
Can you imagine a scenario where your thoughts/feelings/behaviors are slightly different?
Can you imagine how that would change how you’re responded to?
Bye for now.
David B. Younger, Ph.D is the creator of Love After Kids, helping couples with their relationships since having children. He is a clinical psychologist and couple’s therapist with a web-based private practice and a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and Thrive Global. David lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, two kids and toy poodle.
*Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on January 4, 2017.