How do you change your behavior?
Hey there Beautiful!
I’m going to tell you about my family’s two dogs today, Samson and Delilah.
They are English yellow Labradors and are the smartest dogs we have ever had the pleasure to call a part of our family.
They are brother and sister and will be turning twelve years old on December 18th. When we brought them home my kids were seven and eleven years old.
My eldest wanted to name the girl Delilah and I said, “Well then the only other name for the boy is Samson.”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Meet Samson and Delilah!
Samson, on left, loves to sleep and be lazy. His sister, Delilah, on right, loves to follow me around the house and sleep under my desk chair.
The noise that changed their behavior.
When we brought our dogs into our family, César Millán, the dog trainer and his TV show “Dog Whisperer,” was really popular.
The one big thing we all took away from watching his show and reading his puppy book was the concept of redirection. If one of our dogs was doing something that they shouldn’t be doing such as chewing on one of my son’s socks, we would make the noise, “chtz,” before redirecting their behavior to something that we wanted them to do.
Samson and Delilah figured out really quickly that when they heard that noise, they should stop what they were doing.
Now redirection is so ingrained in all of us, as well as Samson and Delilah, that if Delilah is across the room and I see her about to grab a magazine off of the coffee table, I’ll make the “chtz” sound and she will immediately look at me and usually not go after the magazine.
I did say usually.
When she does grab the magazine, even while I’m staring directly into her eyes, I know that she’s only trying to grab the magazine to get my attention because I’m taking too long getting dinner ready instead of walking over to let her and her brother out the back door.
When Delilah is running around our living room with a magazine hanging from her mouth, it’s like trying to discipline a child, when all you really want to do is laugh.
Of course, leave it to my family to make fun of my behavior.
The only downside of this “chtz” noise for redirection is when my son or husband thinks it’s funny to use it towards me.
Such as if I’m reading my book and am so absorbed in the story that I’ve tuned out everyone around me that my husband will say “chtz” in order to get my attention. He wants me to redirect towards him since he is trying to show me a video that he says is funny.
Or when my son says it to me as I’m adding my second helping of whipped cream to my pie because somehow the first helping of whipped cream was not enough to cover the entire piece of pie.
Back off you!
Redirection is key to changing your behavior.
The reason I’m telling you about my dogs and redirection is that I use this concept on myself and I’m hoping it will help you as well.
No I don’t use the “chtz” noise on myself or ANY OTHER human being.
And I don’t expect you to use it on yourself either.
What I want you to think about is using redirection to change habits that are not helpful to you.
For instance, I have eaten dessert after every meal for years when I was growing up but especially at dinner. My husband didn’t even know that people had dessert as often as my family until he met me.
So because this is such a compulsive habit for me that’s been a part of my life for years, it’s been really difficult to break. I started using redirection to help me not eat dessert every single night.
Instead of sitting on the couch right after dinner, I would go sit on our bed and read a book. That way I was farther away from the kitchen.
Or I would drink a large glass of water after dinner instead of reaching for a cookie. That idea didn’t last long since it just made me get up in the middle of the night multiple times because I had to pee so bad.
Or I would go exercise before dinner so I would eat a little later in the evening which would make my bedtime seem sooner and I wouldn’t be tempted to eat dessert.
You want to break or interrupt your intention.
Whenever I feel a compulsion to do something just because it’s a habit and not really worth doing, I try redirection in order to create a distraction, a bump in the road, a stutter step if you well, in how the habit would usually go.
It’s like giving myself a slap in the face to wake up from coasting on autopilot.
Redirection would disrupt how I was feeling just enough to make me not want to continue to do it.
Here are some examples of how to use redirection if you’re trying to break a habit and change your behavior.
You’re trying not to go to Starbucks every single morning to get your Double Chocolatey Chip Frappuccino. This drink I’m told is one of the highest calorie items you can get and equivalent to a Big Mac from McDonald’s. So to redirect this behavior figure out a new route to drive to work that will not take you past that Starbucks. Or try getting a ride with a friend so that she’s the one in control of the driving. Or take public transportation.
You’re trying to get up from your desk more often at work instead of sitting for hours at a time. When you need to use the restroom, go to a different restroom that is farther away from your desk so that it makes you walk around a bit more. Or if you have to take paperwork to a co-worker’s desk, take a different route that makes you go up and down a flight of stairs before arriving at his desk.
You’re trying not to eat at 3 PM every single day. You’re bored at work and it always seems like a good idea to break that boredom with Peanut M&M’s from the vending machine at work. You’re not hungry, you’re just bored. Instead of walking towards the vending machine, go take a walk around the building.
You could call redirection just a fancy word for distraction.
I’m trying to distract my brain from telling me what I should be doing right now, eating dessert after dinner, and focus on something else like walking around the neighborhood.
I find for me that I have to physically move or change where I’m sitting or change my route in order to change my behavior.
I have to replace a destructive habit with a new productive habit.
What habits will you change this year?
I may or may not actually say the noise “chtz” in my head when I know I shouldn’t be doing the habit I’m trying to change. Any small thing you can do can make a big difference.
What habits will you try to change for this new year?
Be sure to have a redirection in place to help you be successful because if you don’t, you will continue to do the same thing over and over and get more frustrated with yourself.
And this is going to be your best year yet, right?
Don’t believe me?
Stick around awhile. I may just change your mind.
I’ll talk to you later Beautiful!