Continuing on to day four of the effortless brain-based habit change series, Dr. Alex and Megan talk about what happens with habits. They also talk about core principles and some core ways of being that will really help you figure out what you want your identity and what you want those habits to be to work towards that identity. In this episode, Dr. Alex and Megan also discuss the most common patterns that keep people stuck in life.  

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Megan Blacksmith  01:06 

Hey, everybody, welcome back. Welcome back to day four of the challenge. You’re still here? Yeah. Okay, we’re excited to have you go through this process. We’re excited that you’ve been here. And today, we want to talk a little bit about what happens with habits. So we’ve noticed a pattern that will default to our old place will default to old habits under stress. So depending on what your default setting is, that will be depend where you go. So we help women really, really fine tune where they want to go and what they want these habits to be. So that no matter what happens, the default is going back to something you love. And these can come to some just core principles and some core ways of being that will really help you figure out what you want your identity and what you want those habits to be to work towards that identity. So you know, really interesting thing, my dad, my dad started to get things when he was in his 50s. And he started to forget a lot of things actually got so bad that he got quite concerned and went to his doctor. And they said, We think you have early onset Alzheimer’s, you’re all free from us. So my dad, being a man of possibility, a man of optimism. He really is. He’s the happiest guy ever. So he said, we’re not going to have any doctor or experts tell me what my body can or can’t do, or what’s going to happen. He said, I may have a diagnosis. And I will still live a full and happy life. At the same time. He’s also a planner. And he also wants to underthings and he’s, he wanted to cover all of his bases. So we thought, okay, let’s just say I’m not fully able to totally recover my mind a perfect working order, easily and effortlessly, I better be prepared. Because my dad was I’ve you know how we all go through things in life. Life is just full of things. Everything is in life, and you can never prepare for all the things and yet, when we’ve prepared for the part that we’re aware of, it seems to be a bit smoother. So how have I been successful in the other parts of my life? Well, in his business, he’d been very successful. He’s a small town owner of Moran’s hardware store in Plymouth, New Hampshire, we ever their top hardware store of the year this year, I believe, not to brag on my dad or anything, but I will. And then he said so I can be successful at this. So he thought about it. And he thought about what does he do in business? What does he What does he do in that area of life? What do you do in that area of life that you are successful in business at a board of directors, you know, group of people group of people to lean on for advice people to model to guide you and the things that you don’t know quite as well as they know. You know, know that not a board of directors for business. How about a board of directors for myself, like a personal board of directors works and so he drew on all the best minds in town, seeing the connected guy that he is the someone he could trust in all the areas of life and someone he could model to he had the local doctor will actually to. He had to financial advisors, he had a lawyer, a spiritual mentor and some of his other closest friends who fit into different categories and then main group, they rallied around him and they began to meet every single week. And their group met in this screenshot, screened in porch every Monday evening, right near this babbling brook. And they would sit in the circle their iced tea, some snacks and started to talk. And as they talked, they all come in more ways than they could have imagined. Or like that happened to you? Oh, that happened to me. What did you do about this or that? Here’s what I did. The reforming this deep bond, this deep connection as a group. And once they got all that initial stuff out of the way, they started to look for solutions to life together. And they started to shift their focus to what they wanted in life. And all the good things that had happened began telling stories of the good old days, being there to support each other, cheer each other on. As it turns out, my dad wasn’t the only one going on with a lot of things going on in life. So they became this amazing support system for each other. And this funny thing happened. Well, that’s awesome. This connection and the pause from business, which had been his main focus up until this point, provided just a huge relief. So a few months, just a few months into their weekly meetings, he realized that his memory was totally clear, crisp and clear that those old signs that had been popping up the you know, the ones that led him to the doctor. They just, they just weren’t there. And he went back to the doctor got reevaluated. And they were just like scratching their heads like, Huh, well, Steve, looks like the markers are gone. And so not only was it not progressing, it didn’t seem to be there at all. So they took back his diagnosis. And they said, it must just be I’m doing air quotes stress. Says I really just stress in the body working to get back to homeostasis to balance. So there he was. And as my good friend always says, diet, your diagnosis is not your destiny. My dad was living this. And he was modeling this amazing habit. So my dad is now the time of this recording, 77 years old, sharp as a tack. Still funny, great dad jokes. Right, and his board of directors, this men’s group still meets every Monday to this day, it’s been over 25 years. Obviously, it’s shifted, it’s changed. They’ve gone through life together, they’ve gone through death together, they’ve gone through divorce together, you know that all the different things in life. And this group has bonded and stayed strong. And in his 70s, my dad became a state representative. He was in his first play a couple of years ago, he volunteers all sorts of I mean, all sorts of organizations, he just always putting himself in situations where he can learn, he can connect, when he can model others before him. And this is such a powerful habit to have. This is the habit that keeps him going. And this is the habit that when things get stressful, he defaults to this, because he has lived this, and he has modeled this. So I’m hoping to have that kind of amazing energy and drive when I’m in my 70s. And so I am modeling his habits in order to get there. Because our habits, right our habits are what create our reality and our beliefs about our life and the world then create our habits. So our habits can be changed in any moment with a new belief, like a plan and a personal board of directors. We like to think of this, like our community here at XSD gender, whether it’s on the podcast, or Instagram or whether you come join us for anything in the future. It’s like a transformational board of directors that anyone can opt into if they wish and you can share with us, you can learn with us, you can grow with us. And we are learning from you all the time. And we model the areas of life that we’ve learned deeply and are just a few steps of head on the path and then you and everyone else models the other areas to us. Which is why will never catch us without having a coach or a program or learning new. 

Dr. Alex Golden  09:21 

That’s so true. And that that story like is so perfect because it illustrates what your dad did differently than what 99% of people are going to do is that most people when they get a diagnosis like that thinking habits too, that’s not different, but they think okay, I heard you do Sudoku right so I’ll set up a pseudo good habit I’ll buy a bunch but then you know especially with memory loss of the tend to gets stuck in a corner somewhere and not used and the same thing is true of a lot of different hats. But habits that people say Oh, I’m going to start eating more vegetables, I’m going to stop drinking alcohol or coffee, or any number of things. And what they’re doing is always playing in the physical playground. They’re doing kind of the opposite of what your dad did, which is just all the practical stuff that you’re supposed to do for Alzheimer’s, right. And the problem with that is, of course, that people don’t stick with it. They don’t actually they think they know what they need to do, and therefore they feel good about doing it, which is the very reason that they can sometimes feel bad when they don’t. Right, it’s because the belief is that I should be. And so the question really becomes, what was so magical about the strategy that Steve Megan’s dad used instead? Right, what was let’s the juice. And it really comes down to when we think from a place of identity, from the higher perspective of who we are being, how we are acting, and how that functions congruently in our life, and of course, you know that by how you feel, and if you don’t feel good, it’s not working, then the question becomes, who I’m becoming, and the things I do as an outflow of that really depends on whether my needs and my highest values are being met by that habit. So Steve knew that right? So Steve knew that for him connection, community building growth, that Theater Center, you know, for the children, for to have child development, all of these things to come together as a community, were part of his values. It felt good, he knew that that’s who he wanted to be. Same with, with needs, we have, we all have different needs and different proportions of needs that feel the best to us. And when we meet those needs, there, our habits like feels so congruent, it feels so fun, it feels so joyful, it feels so expansive, it feels freeing, it feels like creation. And the Unity inside of that happens from that the outflow of that is healing, right, that’s the lack of fragmentation is true health, true, peace, joy, and all of those things that we’re working towards, and the physical body followed his brain, his brain changed. And we see this all the time. So let’s take it to a habit like coffee. Because we hear this all the time, someone will want to get rid of one thing and say, it’s the coffee that’s making me jittery and anxiety. And I feel that and so I need to get rid of it. And they say, Well, I got a tea. Tea sounds like a really great alternative, you still drink it, it’s still warm, or ice row, however you like it. And that’s great. It’s a good alternative. I hear it’s less caffeine, I hear that it’ll cause less anxiety sounds like a great plan. So that person says, a look, I will switch to tea. And how cool because I get to save money, I get to not go to Starbucks, and I’ll make tea at home. And they do that for a couple days. And they’re feeling good. And then all of a sudden, it’s like, feeling kind of lonely today. Feeling kind of stressed out, oh, I’m celebrating something I should treat myself. And for any number of reasons. The Starbucks run happens and it’s delicious. And it’s caffeine and sugary and, and you’re enjoying and awesome boom, anxiety or anything. Oh, I messed up again. Now I have the coffee. And then you maybe think something like, oh, I need to get back on it. Or I messed up. So I’ll go back tomorrow, and, and whatever this habit is just not going to happen. Well, when that happens, let’s break it down from a needs and values perspective. When we go to Starbucks, what makes you go to Starbucks, is it the feeling of I need a break? Is it I’ve been in the house all day long with the kids and I need adult conversation and a little contact or I need time alone in the car, not even listening to music just silent and sit there without anybody needing anything from you wanting anything from you, right? There’s a whole series of triggers the queue, and what happens after words that even sets that whole thing off. Or maybe it’s just the alarm clock goes off and it’s morning time and it’s on the way to work. So that’s just how the day goes. That it’s the certainty and the comfort of having a routine. So something will trigger the desire for the habit. I’m now making tea at home. In comparison, if you’re looking for connection with adults, if you’re looking for time away from other people for, for quality time with yourself or quiet for alone, making tea at home fits none of those needs. It doesn’t need the values and the desires that we have in our heart for that activity. And it becomes a little bit harder not to go to Starbucks. And same thing there when you get to Starbucks or what happens is that the ambiance is it the music? Is it just being around other people’s that the fact that you had to put on close to it and feel like a put together human to go out? When you get there? What happens? What needs are met what feels good about that? What’s juicy, what’s fun, right? And when we fail to consider these things, and we forget to ask, who we’re becoming why we’re becoming that and what we’re doing with that, overall, these habits that seems so easy to just swap out and have all these side benefits become much more challenging to meet, they become a hindrance, and they become a block. And sometimes people get frustrated with themselves on why isn’t this happening? Well, it’s not addressing all of who you are, and therefore, you won’t stick with it, there’s not enough of a juice to it. Whereas when Steve was getting connection, and fun, and he felt purposeful, and all of these things, think about the difference. 25 years for a habit is a long habit, everybody can say that, right? That is who he became. And when you meet Steve, you know, he’s into community, you know, that’s what his identity is, right? And so all of these facets of it down to the nitty gritty of what we eat, and how we move and what you do when the alarm clock goes off, you know, do you reach for your phone or not? understanding who you are, what you need, and why you do things, is the most transformational way to stick to habits that are empowering and never get off them because they work. And what’s beautiful about that is that they go with you as you evolve, right? The way that Megan was saying her dad and his friends meet right now is completely different 25 years later. But each step along the way, it was that cohesive, unified process that this feels so good to me, because my needs are met. And guess what I am the kind of person that does that, that is inherent to who I am. So the habit of confidence, the habit of self trust, the habit of compassion, the habit of being courageous, all of those things are then possible. When we feel that our needs are met, and we are living incongruency with our values, it is the most powerful place to be because that’s the way unification happens. That’s all of you getting on board. And when we make decisions about habits from there, very little can shake us very little can come sweep us away. And sometimes we get stuck in some of these physical but let’s switch a little bit and talk about other habits. Because habits are patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. Often in that order, though it doesn’t have to be of what we do. As hardwired day in and day out. That’s just the effective program to run that our brain understands. And so habits then aren’t just what we do with our physical body or in our environment as it relates to our knees and values. But then it comes down to what we think and what we feel and how we express that. And so one of the habits that we see a lot that people often know about but have a hard time shifting is venting and bitching, Reitman venting envision becomes a habitual way of interacting with ourselves in the world that can keep so many people stuck. And we’ve seen it time and time again, though, because people are usually thinking habits around food or exercise. This one really goes missed. So my end Do you want to kick off kind of the story that you have around this habit? 

Megan Blacksmith  19:43 

Which just seems to be one of the most common patterns that keeps people stuck and really kept me stuck. I recognized that. I was telling my story over and over to people who would agree with me Like, that’s really bad thing happened to me, or my body’s really not acting the way I want it to. And I would tell that story to them to the people who I knew would be like, Yeah, you’re right, those people are horrible or your body sucks, right? Like, they’re gonna agree with you. And you feel better momentarily. sharing that. And then, at the same time, you’re actually just securing more and more of that belief in your subconscious. So we had Dr. outs, and I have deals with each other about venting and about, if we’re going to do it, we’re going to actually be doing some physical tools to release some things, something, some tools that actually Dr. Alex will probably be able to give you a little, little tip for on tomorrow’s episode. 

Dr. Alex Golden  20:50 

Sure, I think we promised it. 

Megan Blacksmith  20:54 

So there’s, there’s a not a rule that you can’t ever do it. Because you know, we don’t like the rules. And there’s a way that we allow each other to do it in the most effective way. Right? And then also, what are we? What are we talking about continuously? And what are we who are the people around us? What are they talking about? What patterns have we gotten into with them? Right? Maybe I had a pattern with my husband, I would come home and then dump the day instead of just like, hey, what’s one good thing that happened? So this shifting this, this small pattern of venting, drastically shift what I saw showing up in my life, because I wasn’t focusing all my energy on the stuff I didn’t want, 

Dr. Alex Golden  21:40 

right? Because venting and bitching, is a beautiful way to meet the need of significance, right? It’s such a beautiful way to say my thoughts matter. And here’s why I’m upset about what happened. Right? We’re making a case, often for why we are doing what we’re doing, and why what’s happening doesn’t fit the bill. And, therefore, it’s not the expression of that. That is necessarily the problem, I have Megan, I still share authentically what’s actually happening in our life. But when it comes to eventing and fishing, we no longer choose to get significance in that way. That’s not our significance comes from doing this, we are doing what we’re here to do in the world, we’re being of service, we are pursuing our own transformation, we are becoming more and more who we are proud to be, and can really stand on and back. And therefore understanding that we were using that to get significance, identifying it, and therefore applying and finding more empowering ways to do it really meant that the venting and bitching. I don’t know, Megan, you and I didn’t really focus on that, right? That wasn’t where I tension line, we really said, What is the way that we want to meet those needs? What are the ways that we want to move forward. And as a consequence, we started talking, our conversations were just about more powerful things. They were simply more, I mean, quite frankly, fun, right? Because we’re not rehashing the reaction that we’re having to the world, we are setting the tone who we are intentionally unconsciously becoming, and that feels way better to begin with. And when we don’t get our needs met from old habits anymore. We don’t go back to them as much because we, quite frankly, the brain is smart. And if you don’t get the same level of juice from something, there’s less and less incentive for the brain to say, oh, there’s that dopamine hit, right. And it just begins to shift focus. And so asking these questions, and really understanding where you’re coming from these with these things, you can actually focus your energy and much more powerfully on the things that will work for you. And that do guide you into a better direction. Which is so fun. 

Megan Blacksmith  24:27 

Yeah, absolutely. So one thing to watch for is every time you go through a thing like this, and you shift to a new identity, like my dad, right, comes out on the other side, he’s up, leveled, yells all these habits and play a new identity. And there’s this amazing evolution process and the tricky part though, in this process, is if you don’t know what is actually happening in your brain and the neurology when you up level, you may start to experience some pushback, some setback, some fear, and this may Have you come to the incorrect conclusion that you’re not on the right path? who’s experienced this, though? A lot. We want you to come back tomorrow so we can help you understand how to know when you’re on the right path versus when you’re not on the right path because there is this push back. That’s a part of the process and often we’re jumping ship just we’re so close. So close. So close. Alright, 

Dr. Alex Golden  25:27 

especially if you related at all to the Quit two inches from Golden episode. 

Megan Blacksmith  25:35 

Right? Absolutely. Absolutely. All right. Thank you all for being here. And you’re so close. We will see you tomorrow.