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Episode 143 - Changing Your Thought Habits

Jan 27, 2022
April Price Coaching
Episode 143 - Changing Your Thought Habits

Episode Summary

A habit is really just a repeated choice, one you've repeated so many times that it takes less intentional effort to choose. I love the idea that the more I practice choice, the more automatic it can become. What if love or being proud of myself or choosing not to criticize could become more automatic? 

The power of continually choosing what you want only increases the longer you keep your habit. There’s nothing out there - no program, no 21 day fix - that will ever take away your free will, and nothing out there will ever stop your brain from its biological priorities. Your brain will never not want to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and save energy, and you always have to choose. Your agency will never go away.

But there is power in repeating choices. And a habit is really just a repeated choice, a repeated behavior. And the more you repeat it, the more deeply those neurological pathways that are driving that action get. 

A few tips to help you start changing your thought habits:

  1. Add one habit at a time – keep a list.
  2. Deliberateness – deliberate choosing, deliberate noticing, deliberate replacing, deliberate thinking at specific times in your day.
  3. Brain and nervous system work like this takes time. Don’t get mad at yourself, it won’t help.
  4. Use visual reinforcements. Write it on a sticky note and put it on your mirror or your computer screen. Set it as a background for your phone. Give yourself as many visual reminders of your new thought habit as you can.
  5. Don’t let the insignificance of the size of the change fool you. Tiny habits are the building blocks of your life and have a huge impact.

Episode Transcript

Welcome to the 100% Awesome Podcast with April Price. You might not know it, but every result in your life is 100% because of the thought you think. And that, my friends, is 100% awesome.

Hello, podcast universe. Welcome to episode 143 of the 100% Awesome Podcast. I'm April Price and I want to welcome you to the last week in the longest month of the year. I like, Oh my gosh, how long is January? I heard once that it takes 21 days to make a new habit, and like I remember starting goals at the beginning of January and thinking, like, if I could just get to January 21st, then everything would be smooth sailing after that. Like on, January 21st has come and gone and like, I'm just wondering how you're doing, right? Like, it was kind of like a misconception, right? We sort of think like if I can just hold on and just endure and just do this long enough, you know, 21 days, if I can get 21 days by willpower, then it's going to be automatic and some switch is going to get thrown and it's going to be more automatic.

And on day 21, somehow it's never going to be hard again. It's never going to take any effort and that somehow it'll just be programmed into us. And I think a lot of us, like entered January thinking like, okay I just got to get through here, which makes it feel really long, right? And here we are, 27 days into the new year. And I'm just wondering, how are you doing? How how are your habits coming along? And I want to reassure you, I want to tell you that if it's hard hasn't gotten any easier, it's because it's not supposed to, right? Your brain doesn't become a different kind of organ after 21 days, like it just keeps being your brain and it keeps trying to dissuade you from spending time, and energy, and effort, and experiencing the discomfort of your goals, and it that has not changed in 21 days, for sure.

So, I just want to reassure you and let you know that if if it's hard, it's supposed to be and that this really is the work of overcoming our brain, overcoming that natural resistance that comes up for every person, right? Because the truth is, no, no goal that we set, no program, that we start, no 21 days that we start counting, right? Is ever going to take away. First of all, your agency, your agency to choose, and and nothing out there is ever going to stop your brain from presenting an alternative option to you. And the alternative option is always to stop or quit, right? And the truth is that in reality, no amount of time will ever make your brain not perform according to its biological priorities, right?

Like, until we are no longer in this body, our brain is always going to be trained to, like, offer that resistance to the things that take energy, and effort, and discomfort. So, that is not going to change, right? Your brain is always going to want to seek pleasure. It's always going to want to avoid pain. It's always going to want to save energy and you always get to choose. And so, it's just going to keep presenting those two choices in front of you, right? And now we are practicing and doing the work of choosing what we want and then, repeating those choices, right? And that's what I want to talk to you about today, about the power of repeating those choices. The power of habits, the power that comes into our life when we continually overcome our brain, when we continually overcome its protests, right?

So, there's just so much power that can come in continuing to make the choices that serve us. And the more we do that repeated action, the more we overcome our brains resistance, like the stronger we get and the more capacity we increase. So, at first, it's 21 days and then it's 200 and one days, and then it's two thousand and one days and you just get better and better at the skill of choosing what you want. And over time, your brain does get less insistent. It's not that it just like gives up trying to like its priorities met it just it has less sway in us. Because we become stronger, we become more aware of its tactics. We become more aware that it doesn't want what we want and we just get so much stronger and better at choosing what we want.

So, I was thinking about this because I was thinking about, like, I know a lot of you maybe have started an exercise goal, and I have been exercising like regularly four or five times a week, going to the gym and lifting weights for well over four years, which means like well over 200 weeks, right? And I just like I have that pattern kind of developed in my life. We could call that habit, right? And, you know, my brain, obviously, it will still give me some like weak, puny little thoughts in the morning, like I don't want to, we don't need to, right? But it's almost grown so quiet that I don't even notice it. And instead, what I want has gotten so much louder like I really do indeed, like want to be at the gym. I actually love to be at the gym. And for me, that voice is so much louder now, I almost don't notice the other one. And that is the power of repeated behaviors.

The power of continually choosing what you want, what you want gets louder and louder, and what your brain wants gets a little bit quieter. And that is an amazing thing. And I know that you hear a lot of talk about habits, right? And and a habit is really just a repeated choice, one that you have repeated so many times that it takes less intentional effort of choosing, right? So, whenever we're going to do something that our brain doesn't want to do, we have to do it really intentionally because we get so much resistance from our brain. But the more we repeat that choice over and over and over that, the easier and less intention and less energy we have to put behind it, right? The more we repeat those patterns, the more deeply those neurologic pathways become and those those pathways, those thoughts are the things that are driving our actions.

And so, I find for myself, like when it comes to the gym, most of the time I just find myself there like my brain doesn't really even come online until I pull into the parking lot. I'm like, okay, what am I doing today? What day is it? Is it leg days? I'm doing what, but I can get up and get dressed and get there without much thought because that neurologic pathway has just been like so automatic, I have to put very little intention behind it. And that's really awesome, because then I can put my intention in other areas of my life. And it's okay wherever you're at, let me reassure you, wherever you're putting your intention and asking your brain to like, where were you kind of have to overcome your brain, like persistently and intentionally. It's okay as you continue to make that choice, it will add up that will get easier and easier, and you'll be able to move on and do that same thing in another area of your life.

There's no wrong place to do it. There's no right place to do it. Like it's all important work because it's all the same work. It's all just you overcoming your brain. Yeah, it's kind of nice when you get to that place where you don't have to direct it so intensely and every little thing so that it frees it up to, like, work on other hard things in your life. So, I kind of love this idea that the more I practice my choice intentionally, the more automatic it can become. And it makes me think like, Wow, what if I really thought about my choices in love or being proud of myself? What if that was more automatic, right? What would it be like to make a choice not to complain, or not to criticize, or not to like, make myself wrong and to make that more of a habit and more automatic and require less purposeful intention? And I think that you just can be so powerful to think about, like what are the like mental habits that I would like to develop? The mental habits, the mental choices that I would like to like, make more automatic in my own life.

And so today I want to talk about how we create new mental habits. And you know, when we think about habits, we almost automatically think about actions. But I want to invite you today to think about the mental ones like, think about where your brain goes automatically in all the different areas of your life, right? So, just like my body and my car like aura almost automatically go to the gym without much thought. I started asking myself this week, where does my mind go automatically? Like when it's just like running on its own, its own programming? Where does it go automatically? And it's a really good question to ask yourself, like what are the thoughts that are kind of happening automatically to me every day that I just don't really question, and I don't redirect? And this was a really interesting question for me to answer and to really like analyze my mental habits.

And when I really thought about it, like I was so delighted to find that there are mental habits, thought habits, that I have adopted. There really are paying me dividends in my life, and really like impacting the life that I'm living, and I am so happy, and excited about that. And then, of course, there were also like plenty of thought habits, mental habits that I want to change that I don't want my brain automatically going to all the time. And so, I thought I would just talk about a couple of these so that you can kind of get an idea and analyze your own life and decide, like, what are the habits that I'm really proud that I'm developing mentally? And what are the ones that I want to tweak? What are the ones that I want to change and adjust this year?

Okay so, some of the new ones that I thought about that have happened in the last few years that, like I've worked at and have almost become automatic for me, like one of them, is that my thoughts about my body. Like, I really don't have a lot of negative thoughts about my body. And it's not because I've done so much work to change my body because like, if I if I think about it, I can find plenty of flaws. It's not that the flaws aren't there, it's just that I have continually redirected to appreciation, and love for what my body can do for its strength, and for, like the joy that I have being most of the time out of pain, and just like the appreciation of that. And so, like, I just find that for the most part, I've developed a lot of positive thought habits about my body.

Another one that I'm really excited about is that my habit of being proud of myself. So, I think I told you, like, I started this practice of every night when I was finished working to go in my room, and as I was changing my clothes, I would tell myself three things that I was proud of that day. My brain, had this old habit of like noticing all the things that I had done wrong, and giving me shame at the end of every day. Like, here's other ways you didn't measure up, and here's a healthy dose of shame and I just like really have worked probably like most of last year, like really trying to develop that habit of telling myself every day three things I'm proud of. And like my brain is way, way, way more automatically giving me thoughts about being proud of myself than it ever has been before. And I've had experiences were just out of the blue, it will offer me a thought like, I'm really proud of that. I won't even be changing my clothes, it would bring all just offer it to me and I'm like, well, that was a nice change.

Okay, so like, it really does change things. One that I worked on many, many years ago that is still paying me dividends is the thought that this is all happening for me, right? I used to feel like nothing was happening for me and everything was hard. But I really worked at and at the thought that everything is happening for me, even the hard stuff, right? It's all there for me. And even last Friday, we were on the way, my dad recently published a new book, and we were on the way to his book launch. And on the way we got a flat tire and we had my son in the car. He was flying out to go back to school, this was between winter breaks. So, we were trying to get him to the airport, and then get to this book launch. We got a flat tire and I just noticed that like almost automatically, my brain went to, well, this is all happening for us. I didn't even have to like, direct it. It just offered it to me, and I was like, Oh, that's interesting. I wonder how.

And so, I just I just love that you can reprogram your brain, that that neuroplasticity is such a thing and that whatever habit you have, it can be changed. And you can train your brain to love your body, and be proud of yourself, and to know that everything is happening for you and that that can become almost automatic. And I think that's pretty awesome. And then as I was noticing, like, okay well, what are the thought habits I really don't like?

And one of the biggest ones that just became a habit last year was the thought that, like David's job, is the worst. Okay, so I think I've told you this a hundred times because it's been like so top of mind for me. But David's job changing and his hours changed. And like at the beginning, like that was really hard, and my brain had a lot of negative thoughts about it. And what I noticed just recently is I was thinking about thought habits as I was like, it actually isn't the worst anymore. I just have a habit now, I have a thought habit where my brain just sort of like automatically offers it to me. Like, I've thought it so many times, I've like really created a deep neural pathway there. And so, as soon as like he mentions it, even if it's like not actually negatively impacting me, like I'll find my brain just automatically irritated.

So, it was just like, Oh, I've created a thought habit here, and I'm going to have to like, intentionally like, think about something else because I'm not automatically going to have those wonderful, joyful thoughts anymore, because I've created this other habit, right? Another one that I noticed just the other day as David and I were talking, I noticed that like my brain, and I've probably had this habit for a really, really long time, honestly. But my brain wants to offer me all the time that, you know, David hates me.

So, I know that sounds kind of harsh, and I know that sounds like kind of bad just saying that like that, and I know deep down, it is not true. I have the sweetest, most loving husband, but I have an old habit of thinking he hates me, and my brain, I know created that habit to sort of like, protect me, right? Like every thought you ever have is there because your brain thinks that in some way will be useful to you. But of course, like it never really is. But anyway, I just noticed the other day I'm like, why do I automatically go to that thought, right? I just have a habit, I have no evidence for it, I have no reason to think it. It's just that like when things go wrong or when I think things should be differently, my brain, almost like just habitually offers me that thought, Well, he doesn't love you, right? Maybe it's not so much as like he hates you is more like he doesn't love you. He doesn't love you enough. And because I've let my brain think that without intentionally redirecting it and choosing something else, thinking he doesn't love me has become the habit.

And I have to say, like, this is the year I would love to change that habit. I think that is a thought habit that if I could change that, and get my brain to automatically think like he loves me, no matter what the situation even like, like the like the flat tire, right? Like my brain, even when things go wrong, I always think it's all happening for us. And I think it would be kind of awesome in my life if, like even when things went wrong, my brain went to like, he loves me. He adores me. And so, I just say, like, I think that might be my new thought to have for this year. I'm also currently working on a very specific thought habit, mental habit in my business. I have an old thought that I had pretty much all through 2021, and my coach kind of called me on it in December, and I was like, Yeah, I think I'm done thinking that thought. I'm done thinking that I don't know how to do this thing in my business, and I've decided to believe that I know exactly how I know exactly how to do this, and I'm good at it and I've decided to replace that habit as well.

And so, I just give you those examples for you to kind of examine your life. Now, please do not hear me say that you're doing it wrong, right? Like your brain at one point offered you the thought, thought it would be useful to you and left to its own devices like your brain will think. Some like really negative things. And over time, little by little, one thought at a time is become a habit. And this is the thing about habits. They are tiny at first they're one action, but that one action repeated makes it powerful. And so, what we've got to do is the opposite. We've got to repeat a new thought. We've got to repeat a new thought over and over and over again and do that repeatedly until that becomes more automatic. Okay so, I want to give you a few tips if there is a thought or two that you want to change in your life. I want to give you a few things to think about that will help you create a new thought habit, a new mental habit there in your in your life.

So, the first one that I want to give you is to really encourage you to add one thought habit at a time. So, I kind of like told you a couple that I want to work on, but I'm only going to work on one at a time. I sort of have like a list right on my phone, like thoughts I would like to adopt. Things I would like to believe. And I kind of keep that running list going all the time, like I'm always working on a new thought habit. It takes so much thought and concentration and intention, like I said, and I'm going to talk a little more about that in just a second. But because it takes so much concerted effort to retrain your brain, it's really useful to give yourself one thought you want to work on at a time.

And the reason for this is the second tip that I have for you. And the second tip is you need deliberateness, okay? Sometimes we think thinking positively should feel more automatic. But when we're changing a thought habit, it takes deliberateness. It takes deliberately choosing to think something different. First of all, it takes deliberate noticing, we have to be like, we have to flag the thought that we want to replace, and we have to start noticing how often we think it. A year or so ago, I noticed how often I was saying the phrase to myself, I don't know. And every time of my business, I was like, I don't know, and that was always the answer. And I was like, Oh, I don't know, has kind of become a habit.

And so, the first step to changing that was noticing it, trying to like, put a little red flag on it so that every time I thought it, and every time I said it to myself that I would notice it, okay? And that's why it takes deliberateness. And that's why I think it's really useful to just choose one at a time. Like I'm concentrating and trying to find this one thought wherever it pops up in my life, okay? So, it takes deliberate noticing, and then it takes deliberate redirecting and replacing that thought. I'm even deliberate about when I when I plan to think that thought, okay?

James Clear has an awesome book about habits called I'm sure you've heard about it, right? Everybody in the world has heard about it, it's called Atomic Habits. But he talks about how if you really want to set up a new habit, you have to build it in to something you already due to a specific time and place in your life. And so, that's what I mean about this deliberateness. We have to be so deliberate like I am going to notice this thought. I'm going to replace this thought. I'm going to spend time thinking this thought on purpose at these specific times. Just like I was telling you about the times that I thought about being proud of myself, like I built a very specific time into my day when I was going to think that, so the thought would become more and more automatic for me, okay?

James clear calls this implementation intention, right? The implementation intention is the plan that you make beforehand about like when you are going to do this thing. And what I want to offer you is like, we need to make an implementation intention about when we are going to think this thing, right? So, it's kind of like deciding for yourself, like, I will think this thought at this time in this place every day. And there was a time in my business where I was working towards a very specific goal. And every day when I took my dog for a walk, I would tell myself, like, when I get to this point in the walk, there was a corner I would turn and then like, I would have another like half mile to go towards home. And I would think about like when I hit that spot, I'm just going to think that thought all the way home. And the more specific, the better. I think I'm going to think this thought every time this happens, right? I'm going to think this thought in this place and at this time every day, right, like I do in the closet.

And there's just so many times think about things that you always do like, do you always feed your children? Okay, that's a good time to do it, right? Or like, what's something that like happens every day without fail? Every day without fail, I change my clothes. So, it was easy to build that into that place, okay? But the point is that you want to be deliberate about thinking the new thought, and not tell yourself that it should be easier than it is like we are constructing a new neural highway here. It's not easy. It's just not, okay?

And that brings us to number three, that like, you've got to give yourself some time. So, how the brain works is that because our brain loves to be efficient, you know, like 70% of your energy every day is used on your thought processes, which is crazy, right? When you think about how much energy use your brain is using up 70% of your total energy expenditure every day. And so, it wants to automate as many processes as possible. And so, the more often you think something, the more automatic that process becomes, right? In that path, it becomes really clear. What happens is when we forge a new pathway, it takes a lot of energy and our brain is like, I don't want to think that, I'll just give you the old thought, right? And so, it takes some time to like, carve a new pathway your brain. It takes energy and effort. And that is not your brain's instinct. Your brain's like, let's do the automatic one. And we're like, nope, we're going to carve a new pathway. So, then over time, what happens, the more you use the new pathway and the less you use the old pathway, the brain has a way to make that more efficient, and it has these cells called micro glial cells that go in and start to like, snip and remove the old neural pathways. The pathways that don't get used as often it starts removing those, okay?

And so, these little micro glial cells are going in there every night when you're sleeping and cleaning that up and saying, oh, we haven't used this pathway in a while when we start snipping it, and you have to like, build in some time for your new mental habit, for that process to happen. For the new pathway to become more automatic and to become faster and for the old one to like, you know, be pruned away by these micro glial cells. So, if you find yourself automatically thinking the old thoughts like it's not a problem, don't get mad at yourself. This takes time. This is like serious work for your brain. And of course, it wants to be efficient. Of course it wants to think the old thought, okay so you just like, Yeah, okay that's a very deep neural pathway, I'm going to come over here and think like, he adores me, okay?

I think as many reinforcements, and reminders of your thought that you want to have is awesome, right? I put it on your phone screen, put it on your mirror, put it where like places that you're going to see to remember those thoughts and reinforce the thought and the pathway in your brain. The more times you think it, the more reinforce that pathway gets and the more automatic and more efficient it becomes. And then, the last thing that I just want to say is you go to do this work is to not let the quote unquote insignificance in the size of the change here, deter you or fool you. So, sometimes when we look at our life as a whole, like our brain tells us, like, it's such a big problem and we're doing so many things wrong, and there's so many habits here to change. Like what difference is one thought going to make? And it feels so insignificant that we're sort of just like discouraged by the size of it, right? Like a thought is that like tiny a size of change that you can make changing it? That is like the tiniest size and portion of change that you can make in your life.

But like tiny things, add up. That book I mentioned by James Clear, he calls it atomic habits. Because an atom is so tiny, it doesn't matter, right? It's just it doesn't make a difference in the world one atom. But when lots of atoms come together, it can have a huge impact, right? Can have an explosive impact. And it's the same in your life as you create and think a thought one thought over and over and over again, it will add up. It is significant. It will have a huge impact, an atomic impact on your life. The addition of those thoughts are the building blocks of your life. Those thoughts are actually what are creating your reality right now. And as you look around, tiny little thought habits have created your current life, and tiny, little thought habits will create whatever it is you want. So, don't discount the significance of changing one thought.

I feel like I can go back and document the significant changes in my life, in my reality, in my results thought by thought, I can almost just go back to the beginning when I found a coach and like notice. First, I changed this thought and then this one and then this one, and that the results just start compounding. Your thoughts have a compound effect in your life, and if you decide to change one thought it will have an atomic compound effect on the results of your life. The other day, I was talking to my son and we were talking about Colin O'Grady and his book, The Impossible First. He walked across Antarctica right by himself. He did a solo trek across Antarctica by himself, and it was the the first guy to do it. That's why it's called the impossible first. Anyway, we were just talking about the amazingness of that, and I found this old post that he created on his second day out there.

So, imagine the continent of Antarctica and you got across the whole thing, right? And on day two, like he was like, it was just starting to like dawn on me, like, Holy crap, I'm all alone. What am I doing out here, right? So, he takes this picture and he post on Instagram, and the plane that dropped him off is just taking off. And all of a sudden, it's just him and this vast continent ahead of him, right? And he says, I still have a very long way to go to get to the other side, but I can't let myself get overwhelmed with the full distance. Instead, he says, I break each day up into small incremental goals, reach the next shadow in the distance, pull another 15 minutes, then drink water, hundred more steps, miles, hours. Little by little, these incremental successes add up to a full day dragging my sled. And soon many of these days will become weeks as I slowly progress along this long path.

You guys, we only have just the moment in front of us, just the choice in front of us. I know when you look at your life, it feels like a whole continent to cross you like I got so much to change it, so much to fix. I got so much. I want to be different. It's just going to happen incrementally when thought at a time. And all you have is the present moment in front of you, the choice you have in front of you to choose a different thought deliberately. And the more often you take that step and and choose that thought, the closer you get. Step by step, you get to cross that continent. So, I just think it's freaking amazing that our life is built a thought at a time, and I want to encourage you to pick a thought that you want to believe about yourself. And then intentionally think it again and again until it becomes a thought habit. I'm telling you that thought habit will change your life. And that, my friends, is 100% awesome. I love you for listening, and I'll see you next week.

Thanks so much for joining me on the podcast today. If you want to take the things I've talked about and apply them in your life so that you can love your Earth-life experience. Sign up for a free coaching session at This is where the real magic happens and your life starts to change forever as your coach. I'll show you that believing your life is 100% awesome is totally available to every one of us. The way things are is not the way things have to stay. And that, my friends is 100% awesome!

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