Belief and Identity

After understanding your habits, made of a cue, routine and reward, even habits that seem solid break down in times of high stress and the old habit routine appears. However, a way to learn to keep the new habit in times of stress is believing in something that positively impacts the way you think you can overcome the old habit in times of stress, even if you do not believe in yourself. Belief that your family wants this change in you, and that they support you can be the catalyst to get you through a difficult time, even if you do not believe you can do it alone.

Eventually, with your belief of others who chose to not let you down, you can get through it, and the habit is cemented more and more. After a while, it becomes just your identity. Instead of being a person that works out a few times a week, you could change your mindset to thinking that you are an athlete. That exercising is just what you do. Same thing with diet, going from making healthy choices some of the time to a person that is a healthy eater.

Bad identities are created the same way. People let you down, you make a mistake, and pretty soon you identify yourself as someone who is lazy, or who procrastinates, or who is unable to do something. It's very important to consider what you identify yourself with when building habits. Those large scripts are lurking in the background, ready to run. Laura of 2012 would have said "I'm not a runner. I barely jogged a mile in high school, and that was with great effort." Yesterday I finished my fourth 5k run, and while I'm not fast (yet) I feel that I can identify as a runner just because that is what I do. I've been running for the last five years getting better each year. Even though I've yet to crack the 5k without walking segments, I believe that I will get there.

It's important to understand not just the habits you want to change, but the underlying beliefs that fuel them and identities that help cement a set of related habits together.


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