How your mind works is easily recognized once you know it. Knowing that is the key to being able to change your behaviour. At that point, just about anything is possible. You can gradually mould yourself into another person, with another life. How does it work then? Lets look at a situation you could find yourself in any given day. It is what recently happened to me, and came to me as a very nice example.
Say you do a fitness routine, and you have a circuit of exercises you have to do. The first few times you have to think about how to do your exercises, get accustomed. How the machines work, where to find the weights etc. Then you get used to the routine. You have incorporated the exercises in your automatic pilot. You have time to think about and direct your attention to other things.
Then it’s crowded in the gym. You can’t follow your routine, because someone is on the machine you want to use when you get there. Now you feel disturbed. And annoyed by the person who crosses you. Who is just doing HIS routine, with no intention to cross you. You then have to go back to manual, and rethink your strategy. The little professor once more has to think and make decisions. Do another exercise first? Wait? There you have the way we function day by day.
At first, your rational mind had to do work and figure things out, which takes up attention and energy. Finding things out and making decisions is in a way “exercise”, and can wear you out. As soon as you’ve worked things out, and memorized what to do, then the routine goes to your unconscious mind. That simply does what it has been told by the little professor (the analytic part of the brain). The strength of the unconscious mind is that it is not critical. It simply executes instructions. That is where your habits are situated, along with even more unconscious processes of your body which you never think about because they are fully automated, such as breathing, the beating of your heart, the processing of food and other essential processes in the body.
Why does it annoy you when your routine, your habits are hampered? I think because the automated process is interrupted, which sets off an emotional reaction in the unconscious brain, maybe to get the attention of the little professor. Who is annoyed that he has to think about something that was already automated in the first place. The important thing to realize is, that these are not just metaphysical notions. It is the actual and physical functioning of the brain.
Once you know how the mind works, it is easy to change. The trick is to reprogram your behaviour, your habits. The results are amazing. Change is not done in an instant, you have to take it step by step. The reason for this is that you can’t turn around your entire automated behaviour just like that. That behaviour, your habits, have been built over a long period of time, in a long ongoing process since childhood. It takes time to reprogram your unconscious mind. And the little professor has to put his mind to those changes. He has to find the energy and attention to do that. If he is tired at the end of the day, the span of control wears of. If all change depends on his willpower, it won’t work, he won’t keep it up. But if habits are changed gradually, it doesn’t take him energy and attention anymore to keep things going: they are automated and you will even be disturbed if you can NOT do what you have made a (good) habit.
The last important thing to know is: don’t try and change things against nature. You can ofcourse try and stay up a week and work all the time with no sleep, or eat nothing, or leave out a certain part of your essential food (eat only fat, or only carbs). Or run a marathon each day. Your body will just say no. There is nothing your little professor, how strong his will may be, can do about it. Your unconscious mind and the automated processes in your body will take over. You will fall asleep (or go out of your mind), you will get tremendous cravings and eat what is at hand to compensate shortages, or your muscles will just give up. So don’t try to do the impossible, and be cunning in gradually reprogramming yourself. You have to stick to the manual. If you do that, just about anything can be changed you have chosen to change. Once you have understood that, it is amazing what you can achieve.
So now you know why losing 12 kg in 4 weeks (you see adds like that all the time) is rubbish. You won’t eat healthy then, but worse: your habits stay the same. Most likely you will not even keep it up that long as your body will take over once the little professor has become tired of trying to keep control. And it will not prove to be a lasting change. [MdV 30-08-2012]