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Change your habits? Forget about willpower! It's totally overrated

You made a decision. You want to change!

The kind of change that gives you that sweet feeling you're making progress. It may be about your goals for this year. Work less and disconnect more often? Not reacting impulsively anymore? Whatever it is, enough is enough.

You feel cramped. You want more. You want to dare go after your dreams and aspirations or to change this old habit. And yet, it's easier said than done.

I've been struggling with this phenomenon for years. Knowing how to change your habits is, without a doubt, one of the most precious keys: it can mean overcoming procrastination and discomfort. But it also means developing your leadership or assertiveness, improving your time management, etc. Because, in the end, everything is a habit!

What if I told you that you can change almost anything quickly, rather comfortably, without pain or great effort? I discovered this recently and want to share it in this post.

Change - a matter of will?

Change fascinates. The amount of books on the topic constantly grows. Let's mention the methodical Atomic habits by James Clear, which anchors your daily routines to your identity by starting small. Or Mini habits by Stephen Guise, or when your habits are too small to fail and only affect your willpower a little. Let's also quote Tiny habits by BJ Fogg where small steps are favored again, supported by motivation, skills, and triggers/anchors.

Lat night smartphone check
Hard to disconnect? - Credit: Wix

These books are full of good ideas, often supported by scientific studies. And yet, that doesn't stop the smoker who knows that smoke kills from continuing to smoke. Or are you continuing to binge-watch Netflix instead of getting on with your big dreams?

The limits of willpower

Most of these books urge you to rely on your ability to make conscious choices and primarily on your willpower to implement the changes you want. Develop an athletic mind, and you'll succeed! I've relied on this lever for years. It works, but it takes a loooot of energy! And I'm just not thriving on pain and effort like an elite athlete.

Knowing how to overcome discomfort

With my yoga and meditation practice, I have learned to tolerate discomfort. The mindfulness movement reminds you that you are not your thoughts, emotions, or physical sensations. Eckart Tolle underlines it: you are the observer, the consciousness that animates your being. If you work on this posture, bypassing your reflexes and desires becomes easier. I can see I drag my feet, smile at it and tell that part of me that we'll put on sneakers and run anyway. That said, I couldn't avoid many blocks and failures.

Research that changes perspectives

And then comes the research of Princeton Professor Daniel Kahneman in 2011: your brain relies on two systems that work together to function. System 1 operates automatically and quickly based on familiar and largely unconscious patterns. It maintains and updates your personal model of the world. System 2 runs systematically, rationally, thoughtfully, and consciously but requires more effort and time.

We like to think that we all operate predominantly in system 2. But did you know that your system 1 is in charge of operations 95% of the time? Yes, the automatic, economical, and unconscious mode! Can you imagine the effort to change that? Do you sense the disillusionment of the Cartesian, logical and thoughtful, torpedoed by his automatisms and established programs?

To want to change by will is to ignore everything pre-programmed at the unconscious level. In my position as an observer, I can see what is bothering me, but I still don't necessarily understand why it is bothering me because it is unconscious!

The technique that facilitates change

If the unconscious guides your behavior 95% of the time, wanting to rely on willpower alone suddenly struck me as odd and rather limiting. If we're driven mostly by system 1, logically, that's where you have to work. And that's how I discovered hypnosis.

To want to change by will is to ignore everything pre-programmed at the unconscious level. It's like swimming against the tide!

I had already worked with modified states of consciousness in yoga. You know, those states where you have a different vision of things, those that change your perspective? Hypnosis induces them very quickly. It also gives you the keys to the realm of system 1 since you can access your unconscious mind in this state. I have tested this successfully and will tell you about it in the next post.

When change becomes easy

Since then, I have repeated the experiment so often that I have completely revised my approach to change. First, I use my system 2 to identify what I want. My observation skills or coaching allow me to see what rubs and how it manifests. Then, I go "behind the scenes" with hypnosis to see what makes implementing it complicated. In a nutshell, I change what needs to be changed at the unconscious level! And this technique has worked again and again in the last few years! And in a sustainable way!

In a nutshell,

We see ourselves as rational individuals who can choose and will. This is true and false, especially when we remember that we are guided 95% of the time by our programs, reflexes, and conditionings, largely unconscious. Wanting to change with willpower seems inadequate, tiring, and ultimately unsuccessful. Shouldn't we work at the unconscious level if driven by it? This is what hypnosis proposes! Change in comfort and relaxation!

So, what if you changed your perspective on change?

What if you didn't have to sweat it out with much willpower to achieve what you want?

What if it all became accessible?

Does the subject speak to you? If so, read the next few posts. I will explain how it all works and how you can access it.

Until then, stay aware and stay in observation. This remains a tremendous asset to ward off the tendencies and automatisms of your system 2...

Have a great week!


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