The cycle is understandable, because the brain doesn’t make changes easily. But breaking an unhealthy habit can be done. It takes intent, a little white-knuckling, and some effective behavior modification techniques. But even before that, it helps to understand what’s happening in our brains, with our motivations, and with our self-talk.
We feel rewarded for certain habits
A lot of the struggle with self-criticism is not seeing thoughts as facts, but merely thoughts.Jone Mark
Bad habits are slightly different, but when we try to break a bad one we create dissonance, and the brain doesn’t like that, says Dr. Luana Marques, associate professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. The limbic system in the brain activates the fight-flight-or-freeze responses, and our reaction is to avoid this “threat” and go back to the old behavior, even though we know it’s not good for us.
Finding the reason why you want to change
Since 2014, the Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir Rootstock Trial – involving growers from across Greater Victoria – has been comparing the performance of Pinot Noir scions grafted to14 different rootstocks on two commercial vineyards 15 kilometres apart and with more than 100 metres elevation difference. One vineyard is located in a warmer coastal area of the Mornington Peninsula, while the other sits in a cooler more elevated location.
You also want to avoid the all-or-nothing mindset, which leads to quick burnout, and instead take micro-steps toward your goal, Marques says. If you stay up until midnight but want to be in bed at 10, the reasonable progression is: start with 11:45; the next night 11:30; the next 11:15 … It builds success and minimizes avoiding the new habit.