The smallest habits become routines. Routines become behavioral patterns. Behavioral patterns become character traits.
Character traits become minds.
Minds become personalities.
Personalities are personal realities.
The Power of Habits
Habits are physical, mental or behavioral processes that are repeated on a regular basis. This might come across as harmless at first sight. However, habits qualify through the impact of their accumulation. It is habits that make us who we are.
Hence, if we want to change, we need to examine our habits.
You are great just the way you are. At the same time, like most of us, you might feel an inner desire to grow beyond the limits you set yourself. Like a bug you want to fix. However, you might have experienced already that something inside of us seems to heavily cling to that bug.
Changing yourself is one of the hardest businesses in life. This is because our organism is designed to maintain processes that are considered safe. This saves energy. Accordingly, it costs a lot of energy to change habits. Especially if you do it the wrong way.
That is why Anna created the Klafreit Habits course. Her motivation was to teach people the right way to bring about change in their lives. After hundreds of hours of coaching sessions with individuals over the past years, she witnessed again and again how her clients struggle to make real changes. Hence, she started reading about the science behind habits, what habits really consist of and how personal change comes about. She put all this accumulated evidence-based knowledge and first-hand experience into the new Klafreit Habits course material. Additionally, as she has experienced so many times with her clients, she knows that knowledge cannot just be taught intellectually. It needs to be experienced with the body in order to really settle into the body-mind system. For that reason, participants of the course get to install their first micro habit from the very beginning of the course.
The Neuro-Scientific Role of Habits
The brain learns through repetition. If something happens repeatedly without causing death or, subjectively perceived, harm, the brain classifies this as safe.
Even if, objectively seen, it is harmful. In addition, nature always looks for effective, energy-saving ways. Ways that have proven to be safe and habitual are easy to reproduce and therefore preferred by the brain. This is why it is so difficult to change bad habits.
Human beings can become accustomed to many circumstances that are, objectively examined, clearly harmful to health. This is the case evrytime all your friends and family, and maybe your coach and therapist, all tell you that you should stop doing something because it is "so obviously wrong for you". This is also the case with, for instance, violence in a cohabiting relationship: the individual who experiences violence often understands intellectually that this cannot be healthy. However, the habit of interpreting toxic behaviors as love is more powerful.
The above is an example of a harmful habit classified as safe by the brain. Other examples are all kinds of addictions or toxic behavioral patterns. The brain classifies those habits as safe because they are familiar. Familiarity always trumps logic and wellbeing for the brain as it sees it as safety and even interprets it as love at times. And, ultimately, it is the brain's job to keep us alive.
Did you know? The brain qualifies the subjective feeling of love as a valuable asset because love means connection and connection, for the amygdala, means, you might have guessed it, safety. In short, the brain is one hell of a scaredy-pants!
That is why the "mind-over-body-approach" is so vital for sustainable wellbeing. We basically have to teach the brain to relax as parts of it are still stuck in prehistoric times with sabre-toothed tigers and such. Just saying "relax!" to yourself every now and then wont be enough, though. You need to prove it to the brain and to your body through actions every single day. That is why we install micro habits.
Every change can be broken down into small habits. After all, that is how the current state came about: The accumulation of many small habits. So changing what already exists always means changing the habits behind it.
Bad Habits According to the Old Model
Bad Habits According to the Klafreit Model
There are two major differences between the old and the new, Klafreit-, model.
Firstly, in the old model, we define "bad habits" as bad results in the four areas mentioned in the table. Note that they only focus on results. Whereas after the Klafreit model, we focus on the process. Focussing on the process means focussing on the life that happens while you are making plans. The Klafreit Habits model asks "how do you want to live" instead of "what do you want to achieve?". It furthermore asks "how do you want to feel every day?" instead of "what materialistic objects do you want to pursue?". It asks "who do you want to be?" instead of "what do you want to do?". In short, the new model of micro habits is process-oriented instead of result-oriented.
Secondly, in the Klafreit-model we focus on the interior world instead of external things. This is based on the realization that everything external is just a projection of the interior world. Thus, in order to create long-lasting and sustainable change, we need to change the interior world.
Micro Habits Become Habits and Habits Become New Personality Traits
Change Begins With the Tiniest New Habit
What Are the Smallest Changes, or Micro Habits?
Micro Habits are Literally Everything
Each mico habit can be extended or expanded at will. Once a trail in the brain is created through the repetition of a micro habit, electromagnetic signals can flow through this trail. Thus, it expands and, eventually, becomes a notch. The longer one repeats the habit, the deeper the notch gets. After approximately eight weeks, the notch is a highway in the brain. That is why the course's length is eight weeks.
Once the highway is formed, the brain's law of inertia takes effect: It feels comfortable and pleasant and hardly needs any more discipline to follow the path of the new habit.
Every change process begins with a small habit. Modern studies in cognitive and behavioral science repeatedly show that change processes in organisms are triggered by the smallest behavioral change. Contrary to the assumption in the "No Pain, No Gain Internet", hardly any willpower is required for the installation of this smallest behavioral change. Discipline is important, but by no means sufficient for sustainable change.
With discipline and external motivation, one can only achieve change in the short term. Intrinsically motivated people can achieve the lifestyle change necessary to achieve a healed version of themselves. Changing the smallest habits helps to ignite an intrinsic motivation circle.
And this is exactly what Klafreit Coaching has been working on for five years now: At the level of doing. The new Klafreit Habits Course will also remain true to this approach. If you want to change your life, you have to look at your habits, which make up your life in small ways. If you change your habits, you change your life.
I don't mean to exaggerate when I say that micro habits make up just about everything. Micro habits are the smallest processes that accumulate into larger processes and eventually determine the way we think and behave. They are our programming. Software that quite literally has been hardened into hardware over the years as it has become our body. Our nervous system and hormons are the incorporation of our habits. Those processes are mainly unconscious. Therefore, micro habits, once successfully installed, play out in the subconscious min.
Habits aren't just the usual commitments we make as New Year's resolutions. Micro habits go deeper. For example, it may be an unconscious habit of yours to have the same thought loop over and over again when you see a particular person or personality trait. This thought loop then in turn triggers a chain of reactions and, without you consciously realizing why, your mood worsens. This is a stimulus-response cascade that you can not only break, but weaken for good with the right counter habits.