How to Change A Habit

How to Change A Habit

It is the New Year, and so many of us are thinking about what we want to change and keep the same for 2019.  In my opinion, change is the hardest thing in the world–and changing a habit is even harder. 

How can we change?  How long will it take? 

The Alexander Technique affords us tools in which to change.  Some habits are wonderful, and some have outlived their usefulness.  Be kind and gentle with yourself as you become aware of your habits.  They got created in the first place because they helped you in a moment where you were scared–so they are just trying to help.  But not all help is helpful.

Use the tool of Awareness to find your habits.  Some may be physical and some mental (habitual ways of thinking).  Here are some examples of habits you may want to change:

Negative Physical Habits Negative Mental Habits
Sitting Poorly Berating Yourself  
Tensing your shoulders Will They Think I’m Stupid if…  
Standing back on your heels I’ll look weird if I…  
Standing with your Hips Thrust
I Should…

After you become aware of your habits, you are in luck!  You now have a choice!  You can choose to stop them (Inhibit the habit) or not.  In the Alexander Technique, this Stopping of a habit is what we call Inhibition.  In this moment of noticing your habit, there is a pause that happens.  You slow down your brain and you are all of a sudden given a choice instead of automatically responding to a situation the way you always did.  You can choose to inhibit your automatic response.

If you want to change, you get to choose a new Direction.  This will in turn–with practice, become a new improved Habit! Here are some examples of habits you may want to keep!

Positive Physical Habits Positive Mental Habits
Sitting on your Sit-bones in Movement Speaking Kindly to Yourself  
Letting your Shoulders Fall (Not pushing down) Who Cares What They Think…    
Standing Poised (a tiny bit
I’m Okay Looking a little Weird if I Feel Better  
Standing with your Dinosaur Tail
Floating Behind You
I Feel it’s Right for me if I…

David DiSalvo, a science writer explains, “Neural patterns are established within the structure of the brain that underpin whatever we’ve learned, and once established, they’re not easily changed. Rather than “breaking” those patterns, what we’re really trying to do when facing a difficult habit is redirecting energy around them or deny the patterns the external fuel that keeps their supporting neural networks from activating and strengthening. Many people who “break” a gambling habit, for example, say they never lose the urge to gamble (the pattern is still there), but they’ve learned to redirect their mental (and quite often physical) energy in other ways, while also not exposing themselves to situations that fuel the urge.”

Silhouette of bird flying and broken chains at beautiful mountain sunset background

Through the tools of Awareness, Inhibition, and Direction, you can begin the process of changing a habit.  “We’re learning from neuroscientists that the mind is malleable; this is good news because it means you can change your bad habits. How long it takes to break a habit depends on your willingness to make the effort. The key is to start small. Every time you make an effort to break a negative habit, you’re laying down a new groove in your mind. Even a small groove makes it easier to break the negative habit the next time. As you do this over and over, the groove gets deeper and deeper until you’ve truly changed the way your mind reacts.”

It was thought in the 60’s that it takes 21 days to change a habit.  After my recent research though, I am finding that to change a fully ingrained habit, one that comes from stress or fear, it takes more like 6 months to truly stop an old habit and be a master of a new one. 

Having an Alexander Technique teacher as a weekly coach, greatly increases your chances of changing a Habit.  Many who come to the technique and stick with it, have found that although change can be difficult, it is incredibly simple. 

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I would love to help you change if you wish.  You can find Alexander Technique Teachers all over the world, and it is our passion helping others change habits that lead to greater health and well-being.


Cheers to the New Year and New You!



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