It takes only 21 days to overcome an old habit and start a new habit. However, it is not the starting of a new habit that is difficult, it is the letting go of the older habits (a requirement before you start a new one) that is troublesome.
Take for example the matter about our health and fitness. Doctors have all established that there are four things we can control (the rest like age, genes, gender are not within our control) – stop smoking, eat well, exercise always, and be optimistic. The first three are external habits, while the last is an internal one.
And most, if not all of these, are habits that we have been practicing for decades. To jump from red meat to a vegan diet for example is a gigantic task that requires careful planning. And as most smokers will tell you, to stop smoking is an ongoing battle because it is a combination of a behavioral habit (the act of lighting a cigarette and puffing the smoke) and an addiction (your body demands the nicotine.)
Habits are formed because they serve a purpose – oftentimes because doing them made us feel good. But habits are learned, therefore we can unlearn them. There are habits that are fairly easy to break – depending on the discipline, the motivation, and the life circumstances of people. It is difficult to stop smoking if everyone around you is smoking for example.
But there are life habits whose roots run deeply into your psyche. Changing them is like uprooting an old tree. This is where hypnosis provide a valuable help – it acts like a digging equipment so that you can reach the tips of the root experiences. Such habits like lying, overspending, or overeating are deeply rooted behaviors.
There are three essential processes in changing deep habits;
a. Revisiting the root experience Hypnosis can help you return to the original experience. When did you start doing it? Why? What are the circumstances? Who are the people involved. Bringing all these memories to present consciousness will shed light on the role of this habit in your life.
b. Identifying the conditioning and the triggers All habits have conditions and triggers. Smoking can be triggered by stress or anxiety. Lying is triggered by fear and shame. Overeating can be triggered by a combination of stresses, food aroma, and pain. Hypnosis can help you identify those factors so that you can avoid them or deal with them in a healthy manner.
c. Healing an accompanying scar There are many circumstances when a habit started because of an accompanying trauma or painful experience. There is a direct link for example between eating disorders and childhood trauma, especially sex abuse. Sometimes a job loss or a death of a loved one started the smoking habit. The habit started as a coping mechanism. Hypnosis can help in bringing healing to these wounds which serve as a fertilizer to the roots of bad habits.
Hypnotherapy addresses three important aspects of overcoming habit – reason (root cause of the habit), motivation (condition and triggers), and options (healing rather than coping mechanism.