One of the reasons that people often end up breaking their New Year resolutions is the way that the mind works… or should I say, minds. Our subconscious is basically a series of computers which manage local services within our body. They react to both internal and external stimuli, but otherwise they quite simply execute habitual behaviour.
Our habitual behaviour (aka habit) towards the end of a year is generally eating and drinking to excess and doing little exercise… a line of computer code that our subconscious is happy to run for us.
When New Year comes and our conscious decides that we’re going to diet and exercise more, the subconscious is still trying to run the old line of code, so there’s a little battle of willpower. In most people, the subconscious is way more resilient, having had years of getting its own way and at some point, maybe in February or March, we pause our exercise routine for some reason and forget to get back to it. At lest until our next reminder when the swimsuit comes out of the cupboard in the summer.
Meanwhile the subconscious goes back to running its old line of code and when we realise that our new routine has lapsed we often get frustrated or depressed, all of which the subconscious wraps into its memory of that new diet and exercise behaviour… essentially making it harder to get back to in the future.
To overcome this cyclical frustration we must simply approach the challenge in a different way.
First, we must accept that the new behaviour of dieting and going to the gym will definitely lapse. For sure! So there is no point in getting upset about it.
Second, we should recognise that we won’t pick up on the fact that it has lapsed, at least to start with, so once again we should not be upset with ourselves when we do finally realise.
Third, we should just pick up again where we left off. In doing this we are essentially offering up a new line of code for the subconscious computer to run. It will eventually adopt this new code as a default behaviour, although you will undoubtedly have to go around the circuit… lapse, realise and re-present, lapse, realise and re-present… a number of times first.
Except for one week, we have so far managed to stick with the Monday circuits class this year and have even started to add our extra minute from time to time… an indication that the subconscious likes the dopamine rush that exercise gives. Our good intentions will undoubtedly lapse at some point, as other things distract us, but when they do, you now know exactly what we’ll be doing about it.
Last night there was a round of applause for Peter, whose birthday it is this week. He quietly works his way around the exercises just like everyone else and has apparently been coming for quite some time. I think his conscious must be quite resilient though, compared to many people, since he will turn 83 tomorrow.