In his book, The Brain that Changes Itself, Norman Doidge, M.D. writes, “competitive plasticity explains why our bad habits are so difficult to break or “unlearn.” Most of us think of the brain as a container and learning as putting something in it. When we try to break a bad habit, we think the solution is to put something new into the container. But when we learn a bad habit, it takes over a brain map, and each time we repeat it, it claims more control of that map and prevents the use of that space for “good habits.” That is why “unlearning” is often harder than learning, and why early childhood education is so important-it’s best to get it right early, before the “bad habit” gets a competitive advantage.”
Not Surprisingly We Are Conditioned to Fail
Often we are conditioned by advertisers to believe feeling better, looking better, and achieving a vital vigorous lifestyle are easily achieved tasks. Unfortunately, this type of thinking leads many people astray and more apt to act quickly,rashly, and consequently with a high failure rate when looking to overcome various adverse health habits that have been learned over a lifetime.
Slow, Progressive, Consistent Behavior Achieves Results For a Lifetime
The reason many people eventually fail in their weight loss and other health goals is they have not achieved a healthy, slow, patient, and consistent behavior change process that allows the brain to adjust to it’s new neural pathway patterns and brain map. Mr. Doidge proposes we must make space for our new habits, but not only must we make space for these habits, we must emphasize the manner in which we do so. Care and consideration for how we implement changing our “bad” health habits is paramount to making lasting lifestyle changes, and fortunately many of today’s savvy consumers are not buying into self denial, superhuman willpower, and hard to sustain dietary and exercise routines. These smart consumers are leaving many of these “dark age dieting techniques” to their unaware counterparts.
Think about this analogy the next time considering losing weight or making behavior lifestyle changes: An amateur or professional golfer and tennis player learns not in one day, but over a lifetime of practice, can you consider that the future of our wellness is no different. We learn and unlearn best like the golfer and tennis player who practices and “unpractices” his skills for a lifetime.