Welcome to Hello Rebecca Ray, our collective home for courage, growth, and human to human connection. I’m your host, Dr. Rebecca Ray, human, clinical psychologist, author, and educator. I know only too well how fear, comparison, and self-doubt can stifle your potential. This podcast is all about brave and meaningful living, and how you can make your authentic contribution to the world today, and everyday.
Lovely ones, welcome to episode number 65. Why I want you to relentlessly believe in your own potential. Imagine you’re starting a new habit. Maybe you want to procrastinate a little less. So you want to work on your productivity, or the scheduling of your time in your day. Maybe you want to incorporate more movement into your day, maybe you would like to meal prep, maybe you would like to read more. Whatever it is, when you start a new self-supporting habit, especially one that’s perhaps replacing a self-defeating habit or a habit that has become part of your life that’s not helping you to head in the direction that you’d like to go. What happens is initially, there’s usually a bit of a kick of motivation. So once you actually get yourself to start, initially, for the first week, maybe even the first couple of weeks, if you’re lucky, you can feel quite a hit of motivation. And that comes from a neurochemical in our brain called dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for giving us a sense of pleasure and a sense of motivation. And it tells us to repeat a behaviour by rewarding us with that feeling of pleasure or that feeling of satisfaction. So when you start a new habit, it’s all kind of rainbows and unicorns, for a little while, it feels it feels quite good, you can feel proud of yourself and think excellent, I’m actually on track.
But then what happens and this happens for every single one of us, because of the way that our brains are wired. When there’s some kind of stress that kicks in or arrives in our orbit, then what happens is our brain reverts to doing what it’s always done. It reverts us to travelling on the neural pathways in our brain, which are very well wired. And that means going back to old habits, so something becomes a habit because we do it enough that the neural connections in our brain wire together to create, what I want you to imagine is a little highway in your brain to say, oh, this is how I do this particular routine. When you do a routine of behaviours, enough, it becomes a habit. There’s a highway in your brain which matches that routine. And on that highway, the neurotransmitters in our brain, which are the little chemicals that help to communicate the different parts of our brain to tell our body what to do. They travel on those highways. And the more we do something, the better those highways get.
So when you start a new habit, what happens is the highway is being constructed as you’re doing the new habits. So it’s actually really difficult for the neurotransmitters to travel on. I want you to think of it like being in roadworks that new highway and the speed is slow. Perhaps there’s a lot of different signage, it’s not yet completed. And that means that your brain doesn’t love it, it actually feels effortful. So when some kind of stress kicks back in your brain goes, look, it’s just easier for us to go back on the old highway and do the old things. Now what happens emotionally, when that occurs is you can start to feel shame, disappointment in yourself. And then eventually a sense of shame because you made a promise to yourself that you didn’t actually follow through on and if you do that enough, you can get a sense of feeling like you’re abandoning yourself or walking out on yourself. And this is why I want to show you another way because if you stay in that space of shame long enough, then what it leads to is both emotional and practical immobilisation. So essentially you just stop acting in the surface of your growth, you stopped trying. Shame is not a doorway. It’s actually a brick wall.
And so I want to introduce you to another way of moving forward which is coming from a place of self-compassion rather than shaming yourself. Self-compassion is a door, you need to open the door, sure and walk through it. But it’s not a brick wall. So self-compassion actually allows your pathway to move forward. So rather than criticising yourself if you get off track, because criticising yourself and responding to yourself in this negative way, is also a habit, which then compounds the shame and leads you to that state of paralysis. What I’d like you to do instead, is to first bring awareness to the fact that you’re off track. So you can’t change something, unless you’re aware that it’s actually happening. So you’ve tried to introduce a new habit, and now you’ve gotten off track. So just bring awareness to that in the first place. And then bring awareness to the fact that it’s painful. So I want you to have empathy for your experience here, bring awareness to the fact that you’re in pain, because you’re no longer doing what you promised yourself that you would do. And then I want you to bring awareness to how that might create a habit kicking back in of criticising yourself. Now, at this point, I want you to do something differently, as you notice the criticism show up. Instead, what I want you to do is to remind yourself that no change is linear. In fact, you know, the more times you get off track, the closer you are to staying on track, because every new habit attempt, every time you try to do the thing that you want to do, again, adds strength to those new neural pathways that you’re creating for the new habit. So every time you give yourself permission to try again, you’re actually doing just a little bit more road work on that new highway in your brain, which helps for the next time that you do this, there was a study that they did on smoking cessation, and people took up to seven times to quit smoking before they actually quit permanently. So I want you to think that every time you actually try this new habit on what you’re doing is getting better at doing more road work on that highway, which is making the habit easier to do for the next time.
And then once you remind yourself that no change is linear, I want you to consciously choose to relentlessly believe in your own potential. So I actually want you to say this to yourself out loud, I relentlessly believe in my own potential. Now, this is not cheerleading yourself in a vacuous way, it’s not rah, rah, go, you, you’re amazing, you’re perfect. It’s not coming from that place, you know that I wouldn’t offer you something that is perhaps that superficial. Instead, I want you to make a conscious choice to believe in your capacity to change. So this is the foundation for being able to move forward that you actually believe that you have agency as a human being to be able to change your own life. So it’s not that you need to reach a state of permanent self-belief immediately. It’s simply being able to remind yourself that you believe in the fact that you have potential to create the life that you want to live. So to do that, I want you to say it out loud to yourself over and over again. When you get into this place where you’re off track, I relentlessly believe in my own potential. Say it with me, I relentlessly believe in my own potential.
So let’s look at this as an example. Let’s say you’ve been prioritising movement as part of who you want to be. Now the exercise regularly was perhaps once a part of your life maybe years ago, but you’ve gotten off track, maybe you’ve been off track for a few years and to exercise regularly is now a new habit for you again. And it’s been going quite well maybe for even a couple of weeks, you’ve been sticking to your exercise routine. So pretty good. You’ve had a spike of dopamine, you’ve had a spike of motivation, you’re feeling satisfied, you’re feeling good about yourself. And then there’s a disruption to your schedule because you go away for a long weekend. You’re not at home, you’re not around your normal queues, so your runners aren’t sitting by the door, your water bottle is not sitting on the bench. There’s not these things that would automatically trigger you to do your new exercise habit. And in fact, you relax so much that you go into what we might call holiday mode. Where things are different. You’re sitting by the pool, or maybe you’re off or having brunch in a new restaurant or whatever it is that you’re doing. It’s holiday mode. It’s outside of your normal routine. And because it’s outside of your normal routine, out goes, any new habit that you were trying to create with it. And then you come back home after the long weekend, and you start to beat yourself up, because self-criticism is also a habit, when you’re off track naturally because of the wiring in your brain, because it’s what you’ve always done, you then start to say, oh, my God, I’ve just completely messed this up, I’m totally off track, I can’t possibly start again, I am a lost cause, I cannot change. I am so disappointed in myself. I’m a failure. I honestly can’t stick it anything I suck.
Now, if you’re hearing that kind of self-talk, then I want you to remember that the more you give heed to that self-talk, the more energy you give to that self-talk, the more you’re actually wiring that self-talk in as the foundation of your relationship with yourself, which is a really dangerous place to be. Because it’s not allowing you to actually move forward self-talk like that creates shame. And remember, shame is a brick wall. It’s not a doorway. So I want you to notice the self-talk when it kicks in, and then move to the self-compassion doorway. And at this point, I want you to remind yourself again, no change is linear, every single one of us gets off track, bring some gentleness to this process and open the door to start again, by saying to yourself, I relentlessly believe in my own potential. I relentlessly believe in my own potential.
So I hope this is really helpful for you. And I’d love to know how you go, please DM me. I’m on Instagram, mainly as @drRebeccaray, that’s where I spend most of my time and socials and I would love to know how this works out for you. And I have if you want to follow this up, I want to have a whole course on being able to transform self-sabotaging habits into self-supporting habits. It’s called overcoming self sabotage. And you can find that course at rebeccaray.com.au/courses. I’ll catch you very shortly for the next episode of Hello, Rebecca Ray.
Lovely ones. Thank you so much for listening to Hello, Rebecca Ray. If you’ve got something meaningful from this episode, and the most meaningful thing you can do is jump on over to wherever you listen to your podcast episodes and leave a review. Because it’s those reviews that help this podcast stay here. Make sure to subscribe, and if you’re generous enough to share this episode, thank you so much. I love seeing your shares on social media. So please tag me, catch you next time.