Wednesday 20 August 2014

Get Out of the Groove

This is a follow on to my previous blog post which revealed the mysterious world of chicken sexing and a technique to break an unproductive habit.

There is another technique you could try to break an performance interfering habit, again it's from Tim Gallwey, this time from his groundbreaking book, The Inner Game of Tennis. It's a great read whether or not you're interested in tennis.

Gallwey describes The Groove Theory of Habits "every time you swing your racquet in a certain way, you increase the probabilities that you will swing it that way again." (Tim Gallwey, 1974)

Consider this theory outside of its application to tennis.  The brain is made up of millions of neurons which fire off in different sequences, activating different branches to create and access memories.  The activity of these neurons also produces our external behaviour based upon our thoughts.

Each time an action (OR thought) is performed it leaves a slight 'impression' or trace through the massive network of neurons. When the same thought (OR action) is repeated a 'groove' is developed and is reinforced with each repetition. In time - the groove becomes quite established and those thoughts will drive repeated behaviour patterns.

Going back to Gallwey (and bear with me - I know this refers to tennis) "We have all had the experience of deciding that we will not hit a tennis ball in a certain way again....Often, in fact, the harder we try to break a habit, the harder it becomes."
So, how do we get out of the groove. Gallwey identifies an effective playful method "A child doesn't dig his way out of her old grooves; she simply starts new ones!"

Do you know what your grooves in life are? How could you start a new groove - what would it take? Try thinking of an outlandish, playful alternative when you realise you're slipping into your groove. You might want to hum 'Eye of the Tiger' really loudly, hand jive or eat a carrot.  




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