Whenever we try to change something, whether in our physical movement patterns or our other habitual patterns, our bodies will send us signals.
How we interpret those signals determines whether we stick with the change or go back to our habitual — and comfortable — ways.
If my body sends a signal that feels uncomfortable, I’m more likely to go back to my old way of doing the back summersault. This won’t lead to improvement.
But the sticking point isn’t in the body. The sticking point is in the mind.
The Discomfort of Breaking Habits
At first, using a new technique or trying a new protocol might feel “wrong” or uncomfortable. This is because it is unfamiliar.
Anything we do in a non-habitual way almost always feels “wrong” or “uncomfortable” at first.
If you only go by what you feel, you won’t change, because what feels “right” or “normal” is really what feels comfortable.
Things that feel different feel strange and uncomfortable.
To change a habit successfully we must create the conditions that allow the mind to be at ease even as the body sends signals of discomfort.
We create this safety through application of three elements.
3 Elements Required to Break Habits
A technique is an objective, measured process, like a recipe, that will help us get to the outcome we desire.
When we follow a proven technique with good form, we can rest assured that the physical sensations are merely sensations of the unfamiliar, not of injury.
A teacher or a coach is an objective third party. They are not invested in our old comfortable ways.
The teacher both teaches technique and observes us performing the technique.
By observing us, they can verify that we are performing the technique correctly and that we are in alignment.
This information informs our nervous system and our minds that the sensations from the body are not alarm bells.
It should go without saying that you can’t create your own technique. If you create your own, you’ll do what feels comfortable or natural to you, and that’s the habit you’re trying to break.
You can’t observe yourself because you only see what you’re mind is primed to see. Your habits are a blind spot; they are unconscious. You need an objective person to override the habitual ways that you interpret your sensations.
The sensation of discomfort that we feel when we do something in a different way doesn’t go away after only one time.
The body adapts to how we use it, but this takes time.
With continued repetition of technique and reinforcement from a teacher that our technique measures up, the body adapts. The mind starts to learn that the sensation is not an alarm bell.
Eventually the new technique becomes a comfortable habit.