Sunday, January 13, 2013

Why Change Takes Time

You may have heard it said that it takes 21 days to form a new habit but a quick google search will turn up different answers. For some it takes 18 days. For others it takes 66 days. And for some it can even take the better part of a year.

Habits are hard to change!

And even harder to make stick!

I'm going through the study Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst and she has an interesting bit in the book that I want to share...

Brain research shows that every conscious thought we have is recorded on our internal hard drive known as the cerebral cortex. Each thought scratches the surface much like an Etch A Sketch. When we have the same thought again, the lie of the original thought is deepened, causing what's called a memory trace. With each repetition the trace goes deeper and deeper, forming and embedding a pattern of thought. When an emotion is tied to this thought pattern, the memory trace grows exponentially stronger.

We forget most of our random thoughts that are not tied to an emotion. However, we retain the ones we think often that have an emotion tied to them. For example, if we've thought over and over that we are "unglued," and if that thought is tied to a strong emotion, we deepen the memory trace when we repeatedly access that thought. The same is true if we decide to stuff a thought--we'll perpetuate that stuffing. Or, if we yell, we'll keep yelling.

We won't develop new responses until we develop new thoughts. That's why renewing our minds with new thoughts is crucial. New thoughts come from new perspectives. The Bible encourages this process, which only makes sense because God created the human mind and understands better than anyone how it functions.

You guys! There are grooves in my brain soooo deep!

I know that TerKeurst is talking about becoming unglued in our emotions in this book but I'm just going to forget about the coming unglued part and link this to my food habits.

Perhaps I have such a hard time denying myself sugar because it IS normally attached to an emotion. I mean... we have cake and cookies and all that yummy stuff at all of our gatherings... be it a birthday, graduation, picnic, girls night. Whatever the occasion, if it is a happy one there is definitely going to be sweet, sugary desserts.

But there are other emotions as well...
Angry? Eat!
Sad? Eat!
Bored? Eat!

Honestly, I have to question if I ever eat because I am ACTUALLY HUNGRY!?!?

I didn't eat sugar for a full year. Yes, I "cheated" and had sugar substitute things. Then the year was up and there were cookies because Christmas just passed and I found that I was no longer able to say no again... because the real problem isn't really sugar is it? No. It's food in general and my lack of healthy boundaries with food. It is my emotions and the fact that I do not deal with them properly.

I said not too long ago that if I am going to solve my food problems I MUST change my thinking. Because if I'm honest... after not having cookies for a year those first few were WAY too sweet and didn't really taste as good as I remembered. However, instead of immediately working to change that to be my new thinking I just kept trying sugary sweet things until I found something that was as good as I remembered.

All my work undone.

I'm back to no sugar but it's always hard to start again. I should have just stuck with it. The only good that came out of it all was that I only confirmed what I knew to be true... I still have a food a problem and sugar is big fat no for me.

I have a group of friends that are all working to eat better... because we want to be HEALTHY. The other day in our group I wrote that sometimes, what it really comes down to, is that I have to just straight up tell myself NO! I have to deny myself what I THINK I want because it isn't what is best for me. And since I'm a grown up now no one else is going to tell me what I can and can not eat. I'm responsible... 100%. If I fail it is no one's fault but my own.

So today I tell myself no. Today I work at changing my thinking so that I can change my habits. Today I take one more step toward freedom.

Romans 12:2 NLT
Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Change your thinking to
change your habits to
change your life!

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