How to Change a Habit with Physical Movements

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The reason changing is difficult because we tend to focus on the result and what we want to have. The other reason is we don’t understand that when we try to change a habit we are trying to change all the physical movements at the same time as well.

Related: What Is a Habit and How Is It Formed?

Physical movements are the building blocks of a habit and can contain as little as 20, 100’s, 1000,’s and even millions of physical movements over the lifetime of a particular habit.

Think of an ingredient list and recipe in making good tasting Italian Paesano bread. See basic ingredient list below with recipe: (Note: Some parts of the recipe have been intentionally left out)

Ingredients= Physical Movements

  • organic wheat flour (organic wheat and malted barley)
  • water
  • organic cornmeal (100% corn, unbleached, unbromated, unenriched)
  • sea salt
  • yeast

Recipe= Habit with Physical Movements

Step 1: First a starter yeast, which ferments for 5-6 hours and then the dough is mixed and the bakers leave it to proof for about 5 hours.

Step 2: Next the dough is scaled and shaped… by hand.

Step 3: After shaping, the loaves are in the oven within the hour.

What would happen if we removed one of the ingredients from the list? Will the outcome of the bread be the same? It sure wouldn’t! What if we changed the recipe sequence, would the dough and bread turn out the same? No, it wouldn’t.

So by changing the physical movement, we can change our habit over time.

The key is changing no more than one to three physical movement at one time to modify a habit. Remember, when you think all or nothing you will usually fail.

Previously I spoke about the habit components such as:

  1. Thought: A thought is selected
  2. Feeling: A feeling is selected
  3. Actions: Physical movements are created
  4. Result: The outcome is created
  5. Feedback: I liked or didn’t like my outcome
  6. Frequency: How many times you repeated the actions
  7. Time: How long you do the actions when they occur and how old they are
  8. Perceptics: Are individual pieces of data (Letter in a word, word, eye color, nose, eyes, eyebrows, nostrils, bottom lip, top lip, chin, cheekbones, eyelashes, eyelids, chin, freckles etc.)
  9. Condition – When it happened, Where it happened, Why it happened, What happened, Who was there when it happened and How it happened

What Initially Controls Your Habit?

Thought and feeling do then you produce some physical movements which create an action followed by a result. Then you acknowledge yourself by asking “did I get what I wanted, yes or no?”

Based on this answer you will either repeat the whole process again, not do it or think what you can do differently to change the result. Thought and feelings start the process of creating a habit, and that’s where you start first.

Once your thought and feeling are in agreement you can begin to change one to three physical movements in a habit you want to change over time.

Take a smoking habit, for instance, we know it has been discovered that leads to early death, but people do it anyway. Why is that? Because it’s a habit!

Habits affect us mentally, physically and our Inner-self. Followed by 100’s, 1000’s of physical movements, actions, result, feedback, frequency, time, perceptics, and condition.

Take a look at a smoking habit in motion from the very first step. You are not a smoker, but at a party where people are standing outside smoking. You walk over to them and begin listening to the conversation.

Did you walk over to with the intent of smoking or only having a brief conversation? One of your friends asked if you would like a smoke and out of the blue you say, “Sure, it’s only one cigarette.”

What compelled you to begin smoking? The thought and feeling began some time ago and the stimulus happened at the right time for you to start smoking. Now you’re at a crossroad, do you have another one or two, or stop at one?

If you stop now, you will have the least amount of physical movements, 50 in all. Let’s say you decided to have 3 cigarettes which are now 150 physical movements plus compounding frequency, time, perceptics and condition.

After the third cigarette, you decide to walk away and never smoke again. What will you change in order to not smoke again?

First your thought, “I don’t know what came over me, I was feeling depressed.” The feeling of depression triggered your urge to smoke and then you realized, “my health is in jeopardy if I continue this action.

Change Your Physical Movements

You decide to change physical movements next time you are around smokers. The first step is not to engage people while they smoke, rather speak with them after smoking.

Now it’s time to test the thought and feeling, “I’ll wait to speak with my friends after they are done smoking. I feel satisfied with doing this.“I’m at a work party now and some of my friends are smoking outside. I’ll go and speak to some friends over by the buffet for now.”

You’re at home now sitting on the couch and thinking back to yesterday’s party with a smile on your face. “I changed one action by speaking to friends by the buffet.” Four more parties over the next 8 months and you followed the same action by going to speak to other people who were not smoking.

So your thought, feeling, action, result, feedback, frequency, time, perceptics and condition worked.

Thought“I’ll go and speak to some friends over by the buffet for now.”;

Feeling– Satisfied;

Action– you go talk to friends by the buffet;

Result– I spoke to my friends by the buffet;

Frequency– I did it four times;

Time– Over eight months for 30 minutes each time;

Perceptics– I saw shrimp, lettuce, meat, dip, veggies at the buffet, holiday sweaters, jeans, sneakers, Bob, Jim, Andrea, Camilla, Tara, John, Kevin, Greg and Doug;

Condition– I was with my coworkers, at the Holiday Inn, on 2/14/2019 from 6-10pm, Valentines Day party and drove myself to the hotel.

In summary, the most important take away is to decide and replace physical movements (In this case walking over to the buffet and using my mouth to communicate), and then follow-up with the action, and then check your result and answer the question did I get what I wanted yes or no.

Time is of the essence and if you can’t put it into action soon play it out in your head until it becomes real.

Acknowledgment is very important because it will set you up for future successes. Because without acknowledgment there will be lingering questions in the back of your mind consuming your mind energy units.

All or nothing is not effective, but small and calculated action is. I can’t wait to see when your next habit change is and hope you apply some of these strategies.

May The Habit Change Be With YOU!

 

References:

Dancing Sandwich Enterprises. (2019). paesano our holey-est bread. Retrieved from https://www.zingermansbakehouse.com/product/3/

Dancing Sandwich Enterprises. (2019). paesano our holey-est bread. Retrieved from https://www.bakewithzing.com/blog/2016-10-04-paesano-our-holey-est-bread

About the Author

Website: Wheel Potential

As a behavior specialist-life coach Giuseppe has helped over 5,000 people over last 30 years with career change, health and wellness, relationships, New Years resolution, habit change, anxiety, and stress relief. He is the inventor of Wheel Potential Self-Help tool designed to help a person apply self-feedback, acknowledgment, and validation.

As a master personal trainer, he is the author of Mind, Body and Inner-self and Secrets of a Trim Mind.