Did you ever think that there was a connection between your behavior and downspouts? Those two seem like they are totally unrelated!  Downspouts take water from your gutters and direct it away from the building. The result is that there is a trench in the ground that gets deeper each time it rains. The water, then, is more likely to go down that trench.

Our behavior is the same. We develop patterns of thoughts that immediately go down the usual trenches. These might be thinking about all the mistakes we have made, or on grudges we are carrying. It also might be about changing our diet and quickly going back to junk food.  In each case, we seem to revert back to the same trenches.

Change is difficult! In order to successfully change, we have to develop a new trench.  We do that just like downspouts—keep using the new one, making it deeper each time.  One time will not be enough.

You’ve heard that it takes three months to develop a new habit. This is why. It takes time and practice to develop new patterns. You also know that at the start, it is hard to stay with a new behavior or way of thinking. Of course it is. The thoughts want to go back to the old, deeper trench. Your job is to not get discouraged, but to keep sending them back to the new one, making it deeper and deeper. Then, this will become the “new normal” for you.

People sometimes let one instance of reverting back trip them up. They think their new diet was ruined by one hot-fudge sundae. No one gains back 20 pounds from one sundae! The problem is that they do not go back and continue working on the new trench.

If you have a behavior or thought pattern you want to change, start working on a new trench. Start with just one, because it is a difficult task. And keep practicing your new patterns. Soon, they will become your regular patterns!

This blog post describes the ideas and opinions of its author and does not provide professional, psychological, or therapeutic advice. Any anecdotes and examples presented in this blog post are based on the experiences of real people, but names, identifying information ,and nonessential facts have been changed throughout to protect their privacy.