The Secret to Lasting Change | Chaim Moshe Steinmetz, LISW

Everyone wants change, whether it’s growth in our Yiddishkeit, a new job, less stress, better relationships, more money, the list goes on and on, yet it often seems elusive. After many failed attempts, we often become cynical and hardened to the possibility of change

The secret to change lies in one concept. Automation. Ask any successful business owner, they will tell you that at the heart of success is creating a process that runs by itself. Personal change is no different.

The brain, like a business, loves to simplify things. It hates new things that it hasn’t learned yet because it can’t do it automatically, it needs to first learn. Think about the first time you drove a car. Did you have both clenched hands on the wheel sitting tensely with your eyes glued on the double yellow lines? It’s probably safe to say you don’t drive that way anymore. I definitely don’t. When I drive long distances, I get so engrossed in my thoughts that when I arrive, I wonder how I got there. When I first learned how to drive, that would never have happened. That shift is the process of automation at work. Initially, my brain was not used to driving, it therefore required intense focus and concentration. However, after a short period of learning, it was stored in the automatic files of my brain and now I can drive without even noticing what I’m doing.

The key to change is to create a small shift in process that when done repeatedly becomes automatic. Once it’s automatic it becomes who you are, and you effortlessly reap the benefits.

Here’s the caveat: Automation is both a blessing and a curse. Since your brain loves automation, it will fight your efforts to create change with all its strength. The reason for this is based on the same concept. With any effort at change you are challenging the already learned (but unhelpful) automatic process that your brain worked so hard to create.

Here’s a few tricks your mind will play on you to get you to give up change.

  • You don’t need to change, everything’s fine the way it is
  • Apathy
  • “Forgetting” to do what you decided
  • I’ll do it tomorrow
  • This change is too small to help
  • Don’t try, you’ll fail again
  • Why should I change, He/she should!

When you notice one or more of these tricks, instead of giving up, get excited! It means you were successful in activating your brain’s resistance by challenging the ineffective status quo. Neuroscience research shows that if you maintain your changes for 30 days, you’ve created a solid new automatic pathway in the brain. The real difficulty is in creating the automation, but once you do, it’s smooth sailing!

In summary, the secret to unlocking your brain is automation. If not understood, this leads to suffering created through accumulated negative automatic habits. Leveraged wisely, you can reap a lifetime of effortless benefit.


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