If you are like me, you know the heavenly pleasure of indulgence. You have experienced the joy of being indolent and putting off that arduous assignment or that delighting feeling in eating junk food. But deep inside, we all know that it is harmful to us. And yet we do it! So how can we stop this?
How I tricked my brain
Before I tell you how to do it, I want to share a personal story of mine. Feel free to skip it if it doesn’t interest you.
It was back in grade 7, I was a failure of a student. Failed in so many subjects and average in others. I went to a private school. I was given a personal tutor. I even was sent to special classes. Yet, nothing that my parents did for me could motivate me to study.
I was still promoted to Grade 8 somehow. New classroom, new teachers and new classmates. But something was different. Most of them seemed to have a desire. A desire to be better. They were great students…and me who sucked at virtually everything. I felt bitter.
One day, I was laying around my bed and decided. Decided to be better. I was tired of all the scolding, the embarrassment and knew games and TV didn’t help much at making me better. I was finally motivated.
I studied. Not like a robot who just memorised. I tried to get what I am learning. Tried watching educational videos and tutorials from YouTube. I learned new skills. I started doing what I once detested doing.
Here I am. One of the top Year 12 student in my school(I later moved to the UK). So how did I trick my brain into doing what I hate?
I was lucky enough to do it before it was too late. I did it unconsciously. But for you, I will teach you how to do it consciously.
First of all, let’s get a fact clear. Most of us can’t control our mind. You mind be frowning and thinking ‘’The hell are you saying?’’. I argue its true.
Your mind is like another being. You might be conscious but your brain is still thinking subconsciously about other things and learning about your surrounding even when you are unaware of it(I will have a link about it below).
Now, let us start by treating the brain as another being. Call it Mr Mind. If you want it to do something, you have to give it a reason, a motivation. How exactly do we do that?
Take a piece of paper. Fold it in half to have two columns. Write what you want to change or start doing(e.g. stop eating junk food, daily exercise, etc) on the left. Write the benefits of changing it on the right. This allows your mind to grasp reasons to change for the better. You may also write cons for not changing by folding the paper to make 3 columns.
Now that your brain knows why to do it, let’s start by making small progress. For example, you want to lose weight. But you hate exercise and thus find it difficult to start. Since you gave your mind reasons to do it, it will be easier to start small. Try, for example, a full plank for 10 seconds. Keep it up and increment the time slowly. Before you know it, you can do it for 30 seconds! Do something similar for others too.
Starting small helps you gain momentum and makes it more bearable.
Things to avoid
Once you started, you will be tempted to give up. DON’T! If you must take a break, take one for 2 days at max. If you go beyond that, you will struggle to get back where you stopped.
And one more thing. Don’t be too ambitious. Don’t think like, “I will do 20 push-ups every day!”, or, “I will fast for an entire week!”. That is not practical. It is more like punishing yourself. And demotivates you later on. Small successes lead to big successes. Never give up! And make sure to reward yourself for mini successes.
To conclude, you start by writing the pros and cons of making the decision of changing yourself to do the hard stuff on a piece of paper. This gives you motivation and a bird’s eye view of the advantages. You start small, taking baby steps. Avoid taking more than 2 days of break and take on too ambitious of a challenge.