Habits are part of our life. We are all aware of how important it is to establish and keep positive habits. However, building successful habits is much easier said than done. No matter what you do sometimes, you don’t get successful in changing some of the old unhelpful habits. You then blame yourselves for falling short of your expectations while making lasting changes. This is because on the whole, when we approach habit-change, we go about applying wrong paradigms.
What is a Paradigm?
At the root of our beliefs and actions are a collection of paradigms, which are influenced by family, friends, culture, religion, work and education. A paradigm is a mental program that has almost exclusive control over our habitual behaviour, and almost all of our behaviour is habitual. And so are most of our routines and other repetitive activities in our life that are mostly influenced by our paradigms.
Paradigm is a part of the conditioning of the mind, our conditioning thought patterns— Bob PractorTweet
Your paradigms are the lenses through which you interpret the world. These interpretations in turn determine your attitudes, behaviours and ultimately how you relate to others. To put it in simple terms, they act as maps in how to get somewhere. Like maps, they are not the place itself, but are simply a representation of it.
Just as different maps display different information while representing the same place, so do your paradigm, that represents through different lenses. So, in a way, they become fundamental to the results you achieve in building new habits or replacing bad ones. Having ineffective paradigms is like using a wrong map. No matter how hard you work towards changing a habit, you will still be stuck and cannot make real progress, unless you correct your paradigm.
How are paradigms created?
The beliefs and habits that we consciously or unconsciously chose create different paradigms. And so does each person’s experiences that lead to different paradigms. In other words, two people with different paradigms can look at the same facts, interpret them completely differently, and both can be right.
Your sense of identity makes you create certain paradigms. Similarly, your beliefs about what is possible for you and what isn’t also lead to certain paradigms that either empower or disempower you. Even your consistent thoughts, actions and habits play a part in reinforcing some of your existing paradigms.
Your paradigms determine what you hold on to mentally as well as emotionally. They are of two types. Those that help you interpret the way things should be, and those that help you interpret the way things are. The former shape our values, while the later our realities.
What is paradigm shift and how it works in habit-change?
A paradigm shift is a change in the way you perceive your beliefs, thoughts. When you undergo a paradigm shift, your tendency to hold into unhelpful thoughts and feelings completely transforms. Our paradigms change quickly, sometimes through life-altering experiences, or gradually by making a deliberate effort. While conscious mind can help you act in the moment, the subconscious records your actions and cues them to create a system.
The subconscious mind develops default behaviour that makes responding to your surroundings easier. It records the things you have been constantly doing and prompts you based on such habitual patterns. While this is helpful, it also poses a problem if you consistently operate out of wrong paradigms. The subconscious cues them creating a system of unhelpful habits. By shifting your paradigms, you can alter the structure of your habitual patterns, attitudes, and behaviours.
For instance, diets alone don’t help you to keep up with your healthy habits. You need a whole new perspective on yourself to achieve lasting results. To work in your relationship goals, you need to view people fundamentally different than ever before. Similar is the case with productivity. Simple hacks and steps are not key to break your procrastination habit. You need a whole new take on your purpose to be naturally motivated.
What makes it difficult
Your paradigms are conditional perceptions that are built upon your experiences of past and present together with other factors, like your habits, beliefs and thoughts. They deeply are ingrained in our subconscious and dictate what we hold onto mentally and emotionally. We tend to believe deep down that our survival depends on these set points.
We get used to looking, perceiving these paradigms as our normal. All of our decisions, feelings and actions make sense with it. However, most of them can be limiting and probably might be true long ago or don’t stand relevant or helpful any longer. So, when we come across something new to us, and our minds are not open to mental settings that differ from our own, or to that of which we’ve come to assume is true, then we revert back, time and again to the same old habitual patterns, no matter which area our life.
Since our existing paradigms are a result of our past conditioning and experiences, we either get accustomed to them, or probably may not realise anything is wrong. This is because they are conditioned by our initial interpretations. So, many of us look at life from these set points not realising that we actually have a choice to change them.
It is not the lack of effort sometimes, but operating from wrong paradigms that makes you resistant to personal change. Wrong maps limit your understanding in terms of what’s actually possible, how you can change, grow and develop. You get limited in all these if you are not ready to see or consider perspectives outside of that which you have already experienced.
What is required to create paradigm shifts
When other perspectives cause you to interpret something differently than you previously did, nine times out of ten you might assume they are wrong. And only by making a deliberate effort that you can shift your paradigms. Until you change your thinking, you will always recycle your experience.
However, to make these shifts, you cannot just pick your new paradigm out there isn’t any fixed approach you can take to access or alter them. It involves a gradual process of working on key things overtime to do to shift your existing paradigms. Here are few things to begin with.
Determine ‘why’ behind your habits
Every unproductive or an unhelpful habit has a paradigm manifesting it. So, instead of focusing on the behaviour, that is causing you to not get the results you desire, analyse your beliefs and the ‘why’s’ behind them. Why do you want to change a particular habit or a behaviour? What do you hope to achieve by changing it? Why is this important for your future self? By defining your why, you give yourself a framework to create new paradigm for shaping your actions further.
Identify your limited paradigms
Only when you become aware of your limiting paradigms, you can begin to understand how they are interfering with your ability to change. Asking yourself, Are there any limiting paradigms that you recognise yourself with, is the first step to lead yourself outside of them.
If you want to change a particular habit, and you operate from thinking about things you already can and cannot do, you operate from limiting paradigms. Whereas by shifting to a new paradigm, for instance, understanding how your habits affect other areas of your life, you can stretch your frames of reference to be more mindful of your unhelpful thoughts.
Use positive emotions to reinforce new paradigms
Emotions act as powerful motivators when it comes to our habits. When you don’t know how to control your emotions, they can intervene with your paradigm shift. It is in our nature to associate different emotions with the need to do something. For instance, fear makes you stop procrastinating on important tasks. And when the subconscious mind picks up these emotions, it drives you in the similar direction when working on a goal. Identify the positive emotions associated with your goal and use them to shift to new paradigms.
Reframe your limiting beliefs
Your deeply held beliefs about what is possible and what is not can really hold you back from shifting paradigms. They play a part in reinforcing your current ones or creating new ones. To shift your paradigm is to work on changing your sense of self sometimes. Identify negative beliefs you are holding on to in a specific area of your life and reframe then to empowering beliefs that supports your new identity, goal, or a habit that you want to build. By taking conscious control of your beliefs, you can integrate new paradigms gradually and embrace positive change for a lifetime.
Be open to new perspectives
Many times, much of our habitual resistance is what keeps us stuck in our own perspectives. This resistance sometimes can be psychological, or it can due to busyness, or lack of priorities. And sometimes, it can be because we don’t know where to start. Take stock of your present perspectives that are overriding your ability to shift to better perspectives. Developing analytical and logical thinking helps you to be more open to newer perspectives and do more of what brings a paradigm shift.
Questions for self-reflection
What are some of your strategies to create lasting changes in your personal or work habits?
How shifting your existing paradigms can help make lasting changes?
Which areas of your life you can improve by shifting paradigms?
How intentional and mindful are you in creating new paradigms?
What dominant beliefs are leading to your limiting paradigms?
Practicing habits can be harder to change, as they become our character overtime. So, when you have changes to make in your personal or work habits, the best place to begin with is to shift your personal paradigms. Working on changing your personal paradigms brings powerful changes as it leads to entirely a new way of thinking. This inevitably leads to change in habits, attitudes and behaviours.
Shifting your paradigms takes time and effort, but once mastered, you can keep repeating to build constructive thoughts, effective routines and empowering beliefs for better results. Take time to reflect and maintain your willingness throughout in changing your habits. Always remember that paradigm shift is a gradual process and gets better with practice and experience.