Sunday, January 22, 2012

I Rewire My Brain - I Replace Another Bad Habit with a Good Habit

From Brook Farm...
I was enjoying my shower this morning, when it dawned on me. I was busy scrubbing my back with a long-handled brush, and I wasn't even thinking about it. I hadn't decided to do that. I had just done it. Out of habit.


Six years ago, I arrived in the Texas Hill Country. Practically the first thing I did was to go to the doctor to get a boil on my back treated. He quickly took care of it, and I asked him how these things happen. I wanted to avoid getting another one, if possible. "Hygiene," he said. "Just keep your back clean."

"But I shower every day," I said, somewhat embarrassed.

"Well the boil was in a hard-to-reach place. You may be missing a spot."

My wife suggested that I get a special back brush.

But my back quickly healed and I forgot about it. After all, I shower every day...

Then, two years ago I went to the doctor with another sore on my back. This time it was a cyst. I needed a surgical procedure to remove it. I asked him, "What's the difference between a boil and cyst?" After he explained it, I asked him if there's a way to avoid getting another one.

"Hygiene," he said.

Well, I hated being put under for the procedure, I hated wondering if the cyst would come back, and I hated the medical bills.

So I bought a long-handled back brush. And I used it. For a while, anyway. But it was kind of a hassle, and it didn't feel good on my back. So I stopped using it.

Then one day my wife noticed a zit on my back, in the hard-to-reach area. Took care of that, but it was kind of a last-straw, "scared straight" moment. This little detail of personal hygiene was for real. I had to start using that back brush.

I was motivated. I decided on an effective way to use it and a place for it in my regular shower routine. Every time I stepped into the shower, the first thing I did was reach for the back brush.

There were times I forgot. But I kept after it. I didn't want to have another nasty medical procedure. I consciously reminded myself to start my shower with a thorough scrubbing of my back.

And today I realized that I've rewired my brain. I don't have to think about it anymore. I just do it, automatically.

It feels great to consciously do the work to create an unconscious habit...and succeed.

And I've experienced another related phenomenon - each time you successfully replace a bad habit with a good one, the process gets easier. It's as if you're creating a habit of changing a habit. I've known about this for some time, but it's great to validate it with my own experience.

How cool is that?

I rewire my brain to buckle my seat belt...

I rewire my brain to lose weight...

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2012. Building Personal Strength .

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