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January 1, 2014

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It’s the new year, and the time has come for most people to make a New Year’s Resolutions which about 85% to 90% are going to break. The truth is that most people who make New Year’s  Resolutions have no intention of breaking them, they truly want to turn over a new leaf and experience a new chapter in their lives where they hope and intend to find some level of happiness and fulfillment. So why do people break their New Year’s day Resolutions?

The answer is not a simple one but it starts with the subconscious. The beliefs maintained by our subconsciousness, represent the foundation for our belief system, regardless of what beliefs we hold in our consciousness. The reason for this is that most of our core beliefs are learned from our immediate care givers during our early life experiences. As you can imagine, children aren’t exactly known for their sophistication in thinking, so this translates into latching unto anything you hear from parents, guardians siblings and peers, you name it, it’s probably going to stick, even if it makes so sense. The role of a child is to fit in, no matter what, as a result children rarely critic the information they receive, they simply encode the information and act out on it if necessary.

Take for example, beliefs about violence. You can publicly state that you do not believe in violence, because as an adult, you have come to learn that violence solves nothing. However, what if you grew up in a violent family and community? Chances are your knee jerk reaction to feelings of disrespect from someone is a violent urge, despite your commitment to renounce violence. This is because our subconscious is more influential than our conscious, and in order to rid yourself of those violent urges for good you need to identify what your hidden beliefs are in other to change them for good. This applies to resolutions to lose weight, improve finances, improve relationships and so on. The reality is that if you have ever committed to a resolution, only to fail, it’s because you hold unto a hidden belief that contradicts that goal.

For example, I once worked with a client who was making good progress in losing weight. When she visited her grandmother who she had not seen in months, she was advised by her grandmother to stop losing weight. Now here is the sad part of the story, my client, in spite of the weight she had lost, was still overweight. When we processed this incident, we came to an agreement that given the amount of time she spent as a child with her grandmother, it stood to reason that she held unto a hidden belief that she should be extremely overweight.

This now leads to the question, how does one access and change unhealthy beliefs in the subconscious mind?

Before you make your New Year’s Resolutions, here are two techniques to assess and change how you view yourself in your subconscious mind.

Write  5-10 Minutes a Day

Write whatever comes to your mind for a period of 5 to 10 minutes every day. Do this for about one week, the goal of the exercise is to familiarize yourself with what truly motivates you. You might surprise yourself, with what thoughts come to mind. If you do this for one week you will come to observe a reoccurring theme with your seemingly random thoughts, and the entire process might trigger some long forgotten memories.

If this process brings to the surface some long forgotten trauma, please schedule an appointment with a therapist.

Meditation

A recent Harvard research, provided evidence that meditating induces changes in a person’s brain, to the extent of positively influencing emotional regulation and access to memories. So what does this mean? It means that if the practice of meditation is powerful enough to influence change on the brain’s structure and functions, then no matter how ingrained a belief is in your subconsciousness, you can still change for the better.

With what you have learned about yourself with the writing exercise, the next step is to use meditation to begin the process of visualizing the changes you want  in your life. For example, if you have come to learn that you see yourself as undeserving, based on your writing exercise, then you will focus on seeing yourself as being deserving from a place of gratitude. Once you have done some work on the theme of being deserving, then you can transition into meditating on your actual New Year’s Resolutions, diet, new source of income etc..

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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