Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
They are called habits. The mind has a memory and it is smart enough to know all about thought patterns. Thought patterns lead to behaviours that become habits. And we all know that habits can be broken. And new habits can be formed, regardless of age. All you need is the mental discipline to break the habit.
On the negative side, stealing pennies from your dad’s pocket change, thinking you won’t be caught, could be developed to become criminal larceny and a life in jail.
On the positive side, donating some of your pocket money to rescue neglected donkeys, thinking you’re making a difference, could develop into a life of philanthropy.
Unfortunately, thinking about changing behaviours dosen’t lead to a change in habit.
You can think about changing your diet to nutritious, sugar-free options, so you will be healthy and at less risk of suffering illness but unless your new diet becomes a habit, you will revert to you old ways.
Thinking about exercising a couple of times a week doesn’t help your strength and fitness unless you make exercise a habit.
Thinking about giving to the needy and less fortunate doesn’t help anyone unless you develop a habit of sharing generously with others.
In making it a habit to think positively, and put ‘a smile on your dial’, you will automatically become happier. When your inner light is habitually switched on, you become attractive to all who see you shining from within.
Start small, and it becomes large. Think about your thought patterns. Thinking about changing them doesn’t do much. It’s only by changing your thought patterns that you can change what you do, and if done habitually, thus change your life. How much do you want to change your life? How many of your old habits do you want to drop? How many new habits would you like to start? Now you need to set about training – or retraining – your brain so that your mind has control over your own actions. Think of the brain as the ‘control centre’ that controls the thoughts that activate the muscles, and your mindsets and habits as your fitness and strength training.
Whether you are ready to admit to it or not, we all have deep-rooted thought patterns in our minds. They can be positive or negative thoughts, and they are mostly learned and inherited. Starting to notice them is the first step to changing them.
Patterns are neural connections in the brain that over time have strengthened. To change them can take time and effort. Exactly like exercising a muscle. The best way is to put a desirable image in your mind’s eye and nourish it with healthy ingredients (thoughts) such that its grows large and it will guide your steps towards achieving it.
We must first acknowledge the thought patterns we already have. Maybe they are causing stress, anxiety, sadness, or negative notions. Maybe they have been around a long time, since childhood.
Next, figure out the origins of the thought pattern, where you heard it, or learned it, and your belief in it. Often this will lead to an understanding that the thoughts are not realistic or rational, or even true. When you understand why you think the way you do, you will find it easier to change the way you think.
Now the fun part. Observe other people. What about people you admire? Be curious as to how they think. What if you could think and act like they do? Create an alternative response in your own head to replace the thought process you want to change with a new one you want to develop. Repeat this alternative response whenever the unwanted thought pattern shows up, until it becomes a habit.
You should not expect to replace negative thoughts with positives overnight. According to the 21/90 rule, to make a habit takes 21 days. If you commit to that goal for 90 days, however, it will become part of your lifestyle. Other schools of thought maintain that you should work on 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic.
Would you love to see yourself playing the piano or holding that published novel in your hand? Practice and stick with it. Good luck!!