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Behaviours and thoughts and learning how to change them

Both behaviours and thoughts tend to be ingrained from an early age, and can be changed but only over time, do you struggle with the idea of changing your behaviours and thoughts? If so, you are not alone! Many people have trouble while trying to implement this change. Behaviour modification takes courage, strength, and dedication.

Deciding to make this change for the better is a big step and can leave you wondering where to start. The first step to understanding the change comes from understanding how your thought process works.

How to calm your mind and retrospection: The monkey movement

Our minds are constantly running, even though you may not realise it, while your driving, taking a shower or even when you’re trying to unwind and sleep. This can be recognised as “monkey mind” a Buddhist metaphor for our minds focus to constantly jump from one thought to another as though monkeys may do between trees.

Though our brains may tune out of this method it can heavily influence how you think and feel. The best way of understanding this is through the process called “mindfulness meditation”. Mainly used for the support of reducing stress, the thought exercise can help in understanding and changing thought and behaviour patterns, here are strategies that may benefit you when dealing with monkey mind.

Mindfulness Meditation

The start of this mindful meditation will begin with sitting comfortably and focusing on your breathing pattern while paying attention to how it may feel, at this point if your mind wanders take note of what it is about and go back to focusing on your breathing, proceed with this for a further 5 minutes and notice the form of thoughts that may be distracting you, this is beneficial to perform daily once a week for five minutes.

Over time you will become more aware of your thinking patterns that are cycling through your mind, this will help you recognise your thought patterns and being able to capture these thoughts can help you avert them from affecting your behaviour.

The understanding of behaviour patterns

Observing your behaviour can be a vital endeavour and means no involvement of medication, it starts with simply paying attention on how your behaviour makes you feel, this behaviour may have become a habit and habits are often difficult to break even though they may be harming you or others. These behaviours can also be treated similarly to intrusive thoughts with mindfulness exercises. Though try not to be hard on yourself if this seems difficult for you, instead focus on how they make you feel and see what reoccurring pattern you notice.

Primarily this will help you with understanding a chain of events that lead to your unwanted behaviours or what can lead to triggering these behaviours, an example of this is realising you only behave that way when around specific people, if you are under the influence or if you have had a bad day and once this is recognised you’ll find yourself able to interrupt the chain and help you in changing your actions.

Reminding yourself of the negative feelings that can occur after proceeding with unwanted behaviour can also help you prevent engaging in negative behaviour. It is good to remind yourself of your past regret that came with the behaviour, helping you in realising the behaviour isn’t worth the cost.

Why you may struggle to change your behavioural patterns

Though you may understand what your negative behavioural patterns come from they can be difficult to change, the reasons behind this can be complex but here are a few shared forms.

Though you may not want to engage in set behavioural patterns they may be socially acceptable or encouraged, examples of this can be drinking, substance use, overeating and further activities. A decision you can make is to remove yourself from the environment to avoid engaging in the unwanted thoughts and behaviours.

Indulging in set behaviour can also be encouraged by your body, as It associates with feel-good hormones (dopamine), leading to behavioural addiction, this can range from eating certain foods, videogames, sexual activity and participating in other events that stimulate your body’s reward system.

I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better - Georg C. Lichtenberg

A note from Ambimind

It can be challenging to make change but it is always possible with the right methods, engaging with mindfulness meditation and retrospection and also asking for friends and family members for their advice can help.


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