Do you find yourself engaging in the same old behaviors even though you want your life to change? You are not alone. Most people continue to do what is familiar without realizing that by “doing what they’ve always done, they get what they’ve always gotten.”

So how do you break free of negative reactionary behavior? For starters, to break an old behavior or pattern you have to create awareness, be willing to respond differently, and do what I refer to as “practice the pause.”

Gain Awareness

The first step in redirecting any behavior is to gain awareness about what is happening. Although you may be aware of the many ways in which a negative behavior does not serve you, it is important to recognize that the behavior would not continue to exist unless there were some hidden benefit. In fact, the key to change is in realizing WHY you are repeating the same response.

Let’s examine the desire to stop procrastinating. While you may want to stop procrastinating because you feel it has negative consequences–such as, it may create a bad reputation for you or cause you stress–you have to ask yourself what purpose or benefit procrastination does provide for you?

While you may be thinking that it doesn’t provide any benefit, that would not be true. If it didn’t you would easily stop doing it. So what if the following benefits were possible?: What if by waiting long enough, you escape doing the thing you don’t want to do after all? Or what if you are a perfectionist and give yourself less than ample time to create your project so you can better rationalize a less-than-perfect outcome? The key is to more deeply explore what you are gaining by doing that which you want to change!

Be Willing to Respond Differently

Once you have identified what you are gaining, you have to decide whether the benefit of a new choice outweighs the familiarity of the old. If it does, are you willing to change? No matter what has happened (even if throughout an entire lifetime), you can use three simple words to inspire yourself– “up until now” (Remember my YouTube HeartlivingVideo)–knowing that now you can do it differently. Your knowledge is not complete unless you act on what you know.

Practice the Pause

So how do you create a change? How do you hold conscious intent? You decide to “practice the pause.” When you notice you’re about to engage in a maladaptive behavior or when you feel “stuck,” literally pause for at least six seconds (research validates that pausing triggers a different response in your amygdala—a part of the brain) and then respond rather than react. The pause allows you to hold a different consciousness, one more aligned with your new goal.

The pause also allows you to lead from your heart intelligence. With growing awareness and new methods of responding, you can begin to redirect your behaviors to reflect greater peace and understanding.

Above all, know that you are writing the story of your life every breathing moment. You are not trying out for a part in someone else’s drama. You are the author and the director of your own life. As you begin to pause and respond to life circumstances, rather than to react, you will literally change your story and change your life!