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Learn to Let Go of Painful Memories That Hold You Back!

Learn to Let Go of Painful Memories That Hold You Back!

One of the most popular movies of the last few years is the Disney film Frozen. It tells the story of a young witch princess called Elsa who is told to control her powers and lock herself away, so no-one knows who or what she is. She spends years locked away from the world. Because of her frustrations, her powers, instead of diminishing, only grow stronger as they are tied to her emotions.0*

Locked in her room, the years pass her by. One day (on her coronation no less!!) she finally snaps. She has to let it out, let it go. No matter what others think, she cannot be anyone, but herself. The song “Let it Go” is Frozen’s centrepiece and the central theme of the movie.

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Let it Go!

It is no wonder that this movie has resonated with so many people, children and adults alike, because don’t most of us keep big or small parts from ourselves locked away from others and even ourselves? And don’t we all wish we could just “let it go?”

What we lock away from ourselves are usually things we are afraid of. Fears, unwanted desires, traumatic parts of our history we claim to have forgotten. We lock all of this in a box which we hide in the depths of our being and go through our days pretending that what we don’t know and feel does not exist. We succeed for some time, but later all this unfinished business comes back to haunt us.

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An Identity Crisis

This is why beginning a journey to find ourselves and our true personality is hard for a lot of people, and too difficult for most. The start of the journey asks you to look inward, to open your box of fear and work through old negativity and pain. It asks us face your fears and deal with all the layers of conditioning you accumulated over the years. You have to reach your inner core, and the road to it can be long and painful To truly “Let it Go” we have to not only confront what we hide within, but also ask if our behaviours are truly ours. Is this who we learned to be over the years or is this who we really are?

Often our true identity gets “locked away” without us even noticing, because we want to be how we think other people that we love or respect want us to be. This is why many people face an identity crises later in life. They get to a point where they see half their life gone and have no idea where it went. They realise they have never (or rarely) done any of the things they truly wanted to do. They build so many versions of themselves to please others, they don’t know which one is their own. Often it’s the one they ignored the most. Which leads us back to that box of fear.

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Lamed Aleph Vav

In Kabbalah they speak of speak of the road you must travel to reach Lamed Aleph Vav, the 11th name of God and The Great Escape that banishes the ego – meaning our fears, learned behaviours and hidden emotions. We become a new person changed for the better. Well, you don’t have to join the Kabbalah to go on this journey. There is an easier way to reach this stage. But be aware, it takes time, so the most important thing is that you have to want it. To begin your journey, try the following steps

  1. Take a few minutes every day, that are just for you. Put on some music to help you concentrate, sit or lie down and slowly withdraw inwards. Look at the timeline of your life. Where and when did you begin storing things in your hidden box of fear and emotion? Why did this happen? Do you still agree with this?
  2. If not, look further inward to find the box itself. Take the box in your hands and open it. Pick out one item at a time. Focus on it, realise what it means and what you have to do with it. Now ground yourself, like a tree and LET IT GO. Feel it sink into the earth.
  3. You don’t need to go through every emotion at once. If you have a lot of pent up emotions and memories, stop after two or three emotions have been dealt with. You can come back to the box whenever you want to. Even if you have only a few issues to deal with, you may still need to do this a few times. But every time you do this, you will notice that there are less emotions to deal with. One day, the box will be empty.

“To exist is to change…To change is to mature… To mature is to go on creating oneself…Endlessly…” – Samuel Avital

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More by this author

Dannii Cohen

PsyD in Psychology, professional counsellor, life coach and self-help expert

Beautiful Ways Cremation Diamonds are Changing the Way We Remember Loved Ones How to Restore Your Hair in Under Five Minutes The Pros and Cons Of Hiring Writers To Write Your Essays 7 Tips To Avoid Procrastination And Boost Your Productivity Learn to Let Go of Painful Memories That Hold You Back!

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.

In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

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Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

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Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

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2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

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6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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