Ever been halfway through a packet of biscuits before realising you've eaten them? Oh good, so it’s not just me then. Interestingly this is actually normal brain functioning and I can explain exactly why this happens and what you can do to change it.
It’s all to do with the relationship between our conscious and unconscious.
Research in the 1950s showed that our conscious brain can only handle between 5 and 9 pieces of information and the average for a human being is only 7. For everything else we rely on our unconscious brain.
Imagine how many pieces of information you're taking in right now? Our conscious focuses on the 5-9 'most important' things. The unconscious is responsible for everything else.
To make this easier our unconscious brain creates patterns and processes for each thing, for example how we walk, talk, drive, or even use a knife and fork. Our unconscious learns to associate a certain action or ‘trigger’, with a pattern of behaviours which then run in order. So you do A and it knows then to do B, C, D and E. The pattern rolls out without you needing to think about it. It has to happen this way, because of the sheer amount of things us humans need to do in any one given moment.
How these patterns are formed?
Patterns are formed mostly through learnt repetition, you do something a certain way over and over and over and soon it becomes a habit. An encoded pattern, which then runs without you having to think consiousy, effectively your head is saying, ‘I know how to do this leave it up to me.’ Patterns can also form without repetition if it's something which was so big the first time e.g. if you burnt yourself badly on a fire the likelihood is you wouldn't have to do it again and again to create a habit which said this is how we behave around fires.
So what's happening with the biscuits?
Your brain is running an instilled pattern. This pattern had a trigger, that moment you became unaware of your actions, maybe it was you entering a room, the touch of the door handle, the feeling of coming home from work….. it will be associated to one of your senses, you touched something, smelt something, heard something etc.
Then your brain unconsciously ran the programme and you only consciously became aware of your actions again when you were halfway through the packet. Clever stuff that brain of yours, isn’t it.
So what if you want to change it?
There are numerous ways to change these patterns, the secret is finding a way which works for you. Here are 4 examples my clients have tried and found worked for them. Try them and see what works for you:
So sorry, but your biscuit habit is completely normal brain function but you don't have to put up with it. Hope these four ideas gave you some things to try.
If you'd like to know more about conscious versus unconscious thinking I talk more about it in the second video of my the free video series, if you'd like to have a watch click the green box on the right.
I hope you’ve found that fascinating. Go and try some of these tips and let me know how you get on.
Always happy to help