From: Howie Jacobson <>
Subject: Bad habits that just won't quit

How to Unlearn Bad Habits: Ana Gabriel Mann on PYP 521

You know those bad habits that just won't quit?

Maybe you've read all the books: Atomic Habits, The Power of Habit, Tiny Habits, Good Habits, Bad Habits, How to Change, Switch (and that's just from one shelf in my office), but you still find yourself elbows deep in chocolate chips at 11 o'clock at night. 

Or even though your "big why" is practically tattooed on your forearms, you still betray your big goals and cherished values by blowing off your morning workout again and again.

Or despite the 20 minutes of mindfulness practice every day, in the heat of the moment you still revert back to snapping at your partner instead of listening with empathy. 

What gives? Are the experts wrong, or are you unredeemable?

Today's Plant Yourself podcast guest, coach and therapist Ana Gabriel Mann, shares a hopeful and empowering explanation. 

According to today's guest, a decision you made when you were less than two years old is pretty much running your life.

Between 18-24 months, says Mann, you and I and everyone choose one primary strategy to protect us from perceived danger: flight, fight, or freeze.

You don't remember making this decision, which was an outcome of genetics and environment and probably, random chance. You didn't weigh your options and choose rationally.

But you're stuck with it, and if you aren't aware of how your early adaptation to stress functions, it's running your life to this day.

In our conversation, Ana and I talk about how to overcome this early programming and gain freedom to act in ways that serve our goals and values.

And we discuss the nexus of coaching and therapy, particularly when it comes to bringing up and dealing with the past.

As a coach, I tend to avoid my client's past, so we can stay focused on the present that creates a desired future.

As a coach and therapist, Ana explores her clients' past in a specific way - not to wallow, but to gain distance from learned dysfunctional patterns, and so create the space to choose differently going forward.

We talk about the responsibility that coaches have to do our own inner work: "You can only coach as deep as you can go on your own," she reminds us.

We talk about relationships, and how to maintain, build, and destroy them. And how we can change, moment by moment, when we feel the grip of an adaptive behavior coming on.

As Terry Real says, "Adaptive then, maladaptive now."

And we discuss what to do when you're in the grip of stress and anxiety; when, in her words, your body is "flooded."

We also parse the difference between looking at yourself as a witness vs as a judge, and how you can tell the difference.