If you’re not sure how to break patterns on demand, I’m confident you’ll love the simple exercises on this page.
One of them in particular saved my life. Other lives too.
I know this because my TEDx Talk about one of the most powerful ways to demolish reoccurring patterns has millions of views and thousands of comments.
People email me about the main technique I’m about to share with you every day.
And this technique is probably going to work for you too. I have the science to help convince you.
The best part?
Each exercise is fun, easy and they’re even better when used combination.
Let’s take every life pattern you’d rather leave behind and replace them with positive behaviors of body and mind that lift you up.
Why You Can’t Break Those Harmful Patterns
The reasons we get stuck in harmful behaviors boil down to memory.
For example, Nick Bendit is a researcher who has found evidence that a lot of our negative behaviors and thought patterns start when we’re young. According to him, implicit memory is the culprit.
In most cases, this major type of memory is useful. But according to Dr. Bendit, implicit memory explains why many of us suffer suicidal thoughts and other negative mental health issues.
Unfortunately, I went through years of such suffering myself. I shared the experience and the solution publicly, even though it was difficult to do so:
Other reasons people can’t break old patterns and unwanted habits has to do with procedural memory.
This is the aspect of memory that lets us hop on a bike after years of not riding one and still successfully ride.
In a similar way, we default to negative thoughts and behavior patterns because it’s become a well-known “procedure.”
Finally, many of us accept the negative aspects of our lives as fate or impossible to change. We may even experience “learned helplessness” and get locked into patterns by others because we’ve effectively trained them to hold us in place.
I used to experience what E. A. Poe called “the imp of the perverse” around bridges. Some scientists some scientists call it high place phenomenon. Whatever, you call it, I would feel a terrible urge to jump. When I shared this with people, they soon reinforced my fears by reminding me whenever a bridge was coming up.
Even when immersed in a conversation, my friends would remind me of it and the fears would come rushing back. They were helping me repeat the negative pattern of fearful behavior. Only by no longer telling people was I able to finally break out of it.
4 Mental Exercises To Eliminate Habits and Cause a Pattern Break
Now that we know the main reasons we get stuck in negative patterns, let’s turn to some solutions.
As we go through this list, there’s no special order. I suggest you give them all a try.
In fact, for best results, use them in combination.
One: Rub Your Hands Together
I learned to briskly rub my hands together in Tai Chi and Qigong classes. Scientists have found that it provides what they call “psychomotor effects.”
In other words, by suddenly directing your attention onto just one part of your body and a simple activity, you can break a thought pattern in an instant.
There are variations I like to use as well, such as kirtan kriya. This practice incorporates simple sounds and can also boost focus, concentration and memory:
Two: Journal Your Heart Out
Sometimes when I find myself getting stuck, pencil and paper provide the most immediate solution.
Journaling for self improvement is incredibly powerful because it lets you “brain dump” whatever is on your mind.
This makes space for new perspectives and entirely new ideas.
It also allows for objective thinking because you’ve literally turned an unwanted pattern into something physical. Seeing the unwanted thoughts outside of your mind also allows you to reflect on the material differently.
In sum, writing provides a powerful intervention. That’s why journaling is best done daily.
Often you can nip problems in the bud by changing not just one troublesome pattern, but many patterns.
That’s one of the fundamental concepts behind neurobics.
When I started developing serious digestion issued, I remembered one particular pattern-breaker from neurobics: eating with your non-dominant hand.
Although my wife laughs at how I use chopsticks ambidextrously, it helps me slow down. It has broken my negative pattern of eating too quickly while providing me with excellent brain exercise.
Four: Personal Mantra Work
Personally, this practice has provided me with the biggest win.
It works because when you add personal mantra meditation to your habit stack, you give yourself mental content you can rapidly rely on.
For example, when I find myself repeating negative thoughts, I go directly into one of my Memory Palaces and recite some beautiful Sanskrit.
But not just any Sanskrit: Verses designed to show in a Zen-like way just how unreal thoughts are.
For example, one of the verses I’ve memorized says that “a real thought is more rare than a rabbit with horns.”
That’s such a bizarre image, it makes me laugh. And that laughter breaks me out of my negative loop every time.
How To Guarantee Your Pattern Stays Broken
There are other ways to break patterns. Calling up a friend, reading a book or playing a game.
But the four exercises above help to establish long term change.
The question is:
Can you permanently remove unwanted patterns?
The answer depends on the exact pattern and the circumstances.
But for the best bet, a complete overall of your memory from top to bottom is recommended.
I call this holistic memory training. It involves getting deeply involved in using ancient memory techniques.
I’m not the only to find that using them has therapeutic properties. Tyson Yunkaporta has shown how we can heal how we discuss with others using memory techniques in combination with our hands.
Dr. Tim Dalgleish has shown how using memory techniques can help heal depression and even PTSD.
If you’d like to experience similar benefits, get started with my free course:
Finally, it’s helpful to continue educating yourself about the nature of the mind. Read as much as you can and take care around the toxic aspects of social media.
Because of procedural memory. By continuing to read and learn about positive things, you start to automatically think positively. That’s a wonderful alternative to constantly training yourself on junk.
Plus, by keeping offline as much as possible, you save yourself from digital amnesia.
So, what do you say?
Are you ready to get rid of those reoccurring patterns once and for all?
You can make it happen!