Changing a long-standing habit or a way of being in a sustainable way is a pretty challenging feat! It takes hard work, dedication, and plenty of patience but since it’s now understood that the brain is indeed plastic, we know that it’s definitely possible. We thought we would share our own five step process that we’ve developed over the years to change our ways. From cutting out meat and eating healthier, to reducing tech time at night and watching less TV – it’s successfully helped us change all sorts of behaviours and habits, and we hope it can do the same for you.
The Centred Five C’s Approach to Sustainable Change
1. Curiously Observe
First off, it’s super important to get to know the inner workings of your mind. What’s actually going on for you when you engage in these behaviours? This step is simply about becoming aware of the thoughts, stories, and commentaries that fill your mind as well as noticing the sensations and emotions that you can feel in your body around the behaviour in question. It’s vital that you don’t judge, become frustrated, or chastise yourself for thinking or feeling whatever it is that comes up.
“I’m peckish, I wonder if my partner finished that salted caramel chocolate? I know I shouldn’t. Just a piece won’t hurt. Besides, I had a pretty rough day at the office and I’m feeling blah. And I did exercise at lunch so I deserve it”.
Next, weigh up all the implications of engaging in the behaviour in question. Not just the negative, but the positive too. Try remain as neutral as possible during this step, and keep the judgements away.
“If I eat the chocolate, the pros are that it might make me feel better, it’ll taste delicious, and it’ll satisfy my craving for a while. The cons on the other hand are that I might then need another piece, it’s not healthy for me, and it might give me a sore tummy”.
3. Consciously Decide
Now make a strong guilt-free decision either way. There is no wrong or bad decision. If you decide to indulge in the behaviour in question, do so mindfully – truly savouring every moment. If you decide against it, then be satisfied with this response.
“I’m going to treat myself to two pieces of chocolate. Mmm it smells so delicious, it has little chunks of caramel, it tastes sensational on my tongue and it lingers in my mouth for so long”.
Observe how you are feeling and what you are thinking in the aftermath of your decision. Again, keep the judgements away.
“Hmm…I’m still craving more. I don’t actually feel happier. My tummy hurts”.
5. Compassionately Learn
Finally, consciously come up with a take-away from this experience. Take a few moments to allow it to actually sink in. Remember to be kind to yourself and refrain from the self-abuse!
“Chocolate doesn’t make me feel better, in fact it actually makes me feel worse in the long-run”.
We can’t stress enough how key it is to be patient, compassionate, and non-judgemental of yourself throughout the process. Change takes time! Think about it, your neural pathways have been wired in a certain way since as long as you can remember, so of course it will take practice to re-wire them. It is not a failure if you decide to engage in your behaviour in question, it’s simply an opportunity to fire up those new pathways and learn something for next time.