Trick Yourself into Change

by Rachel Miller

June 18, 2021

How many habits do we create from associating one thing with another? How many undesired habits do we create unknowingly, without trying? All I know is, when I consistently do X while engaged in Y, each time I engage in Y, I instinctively desire X.

It’s usually something innocent, like a beer on a Friday night or something sweet with a cup of tea. It’s usually something we don’t need to change, so we don’t. “What’s wrong with that? It’s not bad,” we think, and we are usually right! So, why change? 

We gain a tremendous amount of freedom from breaking associations. Especially the innocent ones. It’s the innocent, daily routines and associations that we least feel like changing; it’s the things we don’t feel we need to give up or change that we are most likely to ignore. They don’t feel like they carry much weight, so they go unnoticed. But, it’s these small things that we do routinely, without thinking, that add up over time. That’s why there’s so much incentive, freedom–and intrigue!–in changing them.

How do you change something that you don’t feel you need to change or want to change, but deep down, you know it holds you back? How do you begin to desire something that you want, but don’t enjoy?

Trick Yourself into Change:

  • Break the association when you most feel like it. Avoid initiating a change when you mentally or physically strongly desire otherwise. It shouldn’t be stressful. Instead of after a long day at work, choose a time that you feel relaxed and intrigued. Maybe you always have a beer on a Friday night, but find on this particular day you don’t feel like a beer. Note this subtle and surprising difference and try something new! Initiate a new, desired association instead.

  • Keep your focus on the experience of the moment, not on what you usually do. Notice how, surprisingly, you don’t mind this difference in routine. The first time, it will feel strange, perhaps difficult. After that, it becomes exponentially easier and easier to choose based on what you ideally want rather than what you normally do.

  • Consider what you gain. It doesn’t mean giving up one thing or another, it means maximizing your fulfillment by ensuring that it’s exactly what you want, when you want it, and yields the most desirable outcome. You gain the power to choose when and how you want to enjoy something, and it’s so much more enjoyable this way! It’s no longer out of habit or routine, but by your choice alone.

  • Remember, subtle, small changes. Brute force won’t work here. Ease yourself into it, almost trick yourself, until you discover that you actually like, prefer, the new change. It will surprise you how soon you grow to adapt and enjoy the same change that you once found a chore or bother. 


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