How do you maintain new habits? Pain, and what it does to you, can be influenced. By working step by step on what you think, feel, do and where your attention is going, you can be the boss of your pain. Instead of the other way around.
If you are even a little like me, it will be difficult to maintain this 'step by step'. It takes more effort to maintain new behavior than to fall back into old habits. Our brains prefer to take the path of least resistance, and before you know it all good intentions have disappeared into the background.
How are you going to change your life (with pain)? Fortunately, there are a number of strategies that can help in sustaining new, healthy behavior.
Never forget again
1. The simplest hurdle is 'forgetting'. Because intentions are sometimes so new, you can simply forget them. Luckily we have smartphones nowadays, and you can remember yourself on a regular basis! There are also lots of apps that can help you to form good habits.
2. Also in the category 'forgotten'. A bit more old-fashioned, but post-its are still doing very well. I always write in CAPITAL LETTERS on post-its to make it stand out and hang them in places where I practically bump into them with my head. Example: PUT GARBAGE OUTSIDE I stick at eye level on the door to the outside.
3. Link new behaviour to a habit. Everyday mindfulness? Link it to an activity that you already do every day. For example: drinking tea/coffee, putting the children to bed, before bed, etc.
4. Link a reward system to your new behaviour. For example, every time you do it, you'll have earned €10 for your new bike.
5. Do it together. Do it together is easier than alone, and you feel the social pressure! You can also tell others about your plans and give them regular updates.
The tips above are really about remembering to do so. But, usually, that's not the problem. At least, not with me. After a while I don't feel like it anymore, it takes too much effort, or I just prefer to do something relaxing. What can you do?
1. Make sure that your new behaviour is as pleasant as possible. Expanding activities? Don't go cycling if you don't like cycling. Don't read books that don't appeal to you if you want to read more, but choose activities that are as fun as possible.
2. The most important tip, I think. Remind yourself of the goal. Think for yourself why you do something, before you do it. What do you hope to achieve, what do you hope to get rid of? This helps me the best, I really try to think about what I'm doing when I feel resistance. If that goal is sincere, the resistance is often a lot less, or completely gone.
3. Also important: allow yourself not to be perfect. Plan days or moments that you don't need to improve for a while. You can't be focused on self-improvement all the time. What I do myself, for example, is that I don't owe myself anything in the weekend.