Break your negative habitual worry patterns to improve your potential.
“There isn’t enough room in your mind for both worry and faith. You must decide which one will live here.”
Worry is something we all experience from time to time while some have a habit of worrying more than others. What sets worry apart from other emotional states is the extent it pollutes the emotional atmosphere around us. This emotional state can release negativity and stress-inducing vibes that negatively impact our lives. When we worry, we feel irritable, grumpy, cranky and on edge. Our tolerance gets lower and we are much more likely to be bothered by minor frustrations which we ordinarily shrug off. It surges our stress hormones and makes us sensitive and reactive to everything with a threat in sight. Worrying seriously effects your personal growth. It is self limiting and sometimes holds you back from taking up life changing opportunities.
What is worry?
Reduced to its simplest form, it is simply an unhealthy and destructive mental habit. The destructive quality of worry is further indicated by the fact that the word itself is derived from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “to choke”! It is like what you do to yourself by long-held and habitual worry. Studies reveal that many cases of illnesses are brought on directly by fear, aggravated by worry and a feeling of insecurity.
How to manage your worry
Worries fall into number of domains like health, work, finances, fear of future, lack of confidence or a myriad of other issues.
Worrying most of the times is unnecessary and doesn’t do any good. It doesn’t change things and certainly doesn’t fix them. It only increases your stress and makes things seem worse than they already are.
We tend to acquire worry as a habit. As we can change any habit and acquired attitudes, we can be free of this habit too.
A direct action is essential to eliminate any undesired habit. So is to break the worry as a habit. Here are few ways to break worry as a habit.
Figure out the source
The best way to reduce worry is to figure out what is making you worrisome. Consider what might have caused the worry. Most of the times the issue that triggered the worry might be simple. It is often simple things that cause worry and the solutions can be sort out. Reflect upon things and disengage from the possible causes. Be honest with yourself about what is bothering you. Simply acknowledging can make you come out with plausible solutions. Don’t concern yourself with things you can’t do anything about.
Be conscious of worry thought patterns
Worry most of the times is illusionary. It creates “What-if” scenario or a scenario that doesn’t even exists. This false scenario is created with no clear explanation about how or what might happen. One reason we get worrier is that we saturate our minds with apprehension thoughts and gloomy thoughts. Most of the times we worry about things that never actually happen. It is important to address this worry thinking pattern. When a worrying thought arises, simply be conscious and aware of it, question how far it is true and then deal with it. Don’t fall prey to worry’s false scenario. Replace them with positive and faith producing thoughts. After you have done your best to deal with a situation, avoid speculating the outcome and go on to the next thing.
Avoid complicated thinking
“worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.”- Swedish Proverb
If your mind is too full of complicated ideas, take a moment to clear them out. Live with simple and positive attitude. Your distrust of others, doubts, or being emotional or trapped by inferiority complex may be the causes of your worry. Everyday many things happen that could be either seeds of happiness or seeds of trouble and anxiety. Try to keep rolling without worrying or dwelling too much over the tiny problems or disappointments. Think of the problems as opportunities for action.
Stop comparing yourself to others
Many worry that they are not clever or luckier in comparison with others. Some rate their own abilities too high. They feel that they could have done better than they are doing now, but in actual fact they are unable to keep up. The pain of jealousy and discontentment can become the cause of worry. As long as they compare themselves to others, they will not ultimately be winners. Their struggle for primacy becomes their worry. Rather than worrying being better than others, it is better to look at your own efforts. Evaluate yourself by reflecting and refining your own abilities. Evaluate yourself by assessing the growth and progress you made compared to an earlier period from your life.
Embrace your weaknesses and shortcomings
Many worry that they lack intelligence or other qualifications and abilities. Intelligence does not necessarily lead to success. You should not end up regarding them as absolutes. If you feel you are lacking in one area, you will find that you are gifted in some other field. People bemoan their lack of innate ability. If you worry about your innate ability, just remember in the final reckoning it is the amount you were able to grow, your rate of development, and the degree to which you exerted yourself that matters. Accept imperfections and focus on improvement.
Free yourself from expectations
Most of your worry springs from not being able to get what you wanted. This might be the pain of not being loved by others or of not being appreciated. The reason is that we cannot change the way others think and feel about you and if we focus on this too much it results in worry and frustration is born being unable to achieve the desired appreciation. It is you yourself who create your own worry by craving recognition and expecting others to acknowledge. If you have this tendency, make an effort to overcome it and practice self-appreciation and self-love.
Worrying involves a negative state of mind and curbs your further potential. A lack of something, be it a relationship, confidence, self respect, happiness, career, or money causes discontentment and dissatisfaction. Focusing on what you lack is a major cause of worry for many. Gratitude creates positive state of mind and reduces worry. Do not take things you have for granted. Next time when you feel stressed about what you lack, be thankful for what you have and the things that are going well in your life.
Face your fears
The process of mind drainage is important in overcoming worry and fear thoughts, unless drained off, can clog the mind. Fear is just a comfort zone which needs to be broken. It is just a self limiting thought. Many of us paint scenarios about what could happen and what could go wrong. Each time you face the fear, the comfort zone is broken and you can come out of this negative state of mind. Fill your mind with thoughts of faith, hope and courage. You became a worrier by practicing worry. You can become free of it by practicing the opposite.
Finally, If you are worrying about something right now, take action by doing what you need to do to stop worrying. Shift your focus onto your goals and your purpose. We usually worry about things about future and often simple things. Remind yourself of the larger picture and things for which you can be grateful and reflect on your abilities and achievements.
Follow these simple steps to break your worry habit and you will start to see change.
“Drag your thoughts away from your troubles..by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.”- Mark Twain
It is in meditative awareness that we go beyond perception and experience inner state of well-being. Here is how to make meditation a way of life.
Each one of us wants to achieve our cherished goals or those which we think are within our reach. We are constantly running after them and other things which we think will make us happier. We end up stressful and discontent with our present state of existence and want to get rid of anything that limits us. Inspite of our ceaseless efforts, the peace,happiness and contentment constantly eludes most of us.
Well-being is accessible to each one of us and our thoughts and emotions are messengers of our inner state of well-being and the key to understand them is by gaining awareness.
Meditation readies us to deal with your thoughts. It helps you gain awareness, teaches you to observe, identify and respond to these underlying emotions and thoughts in a constructive way, rather than recoil or react impulsively.
Making meditation a way of life allows you to see each thought as a messenger with information on how to respond in a way that helps you feel in harmony with yourself and world around you. Your negative notions start to fade, instead of chasing you and wearing you down.
Essence of Meditation
Meditation is a simple practice that requires commitment to stay fully aware of the present moment. Welcoming each moment keeps you connected with yourself and others. In fact, the essence of mindfulness of meditation is paying attention. In every day life we rarely pay full attention to anything, whereas if we set aside a time for meditation, you commit yourself in paying full attention.
By paying attention to the present moment, you can understand the mechanics of the mind. The present moment is sometimes unacceptable and unpleasant. Because of this many of us experience a kind of resistance during the meditation process. This resistance is born out of our inability to accept the moment as it is. A state of well-being cannot be achieved by suppressing all thoughts and emotions. It can be achieved by becoming mindful of everything that arises in your awareness and by observing and accepting thoughts, emotions and physical sensations as they arise without judgment or expectation. This process helps you to step out of your resistance patterns.
Staying connected to your experiences helps you to acknowledge your unchanging inner self which can be tapped into anywhere and anytime.
Here are some insights that you can include in your meditation practices. Each of these insights can be practiced individually or you can apply them all together, sequentially into your meditation practice.
Set firm intentions
Meditating with right intentions develops focus, determination, patience, and perseverance. Intentions are agreements you make with yourself and then express through your actions in your daily activities. if you don’t set firm intentions, you will eventually find yourself wandering and might lose sight of the reason you are meditating.
Intentions set can be small or large. Aim is to discover your genuine intentions and affirm those with certainty in your meditation practice. Express each intention in small phrases in present tense as if it is true. This enables your subconscious mind to register them as actualities. Resolutely follow and affirm your intentions for they enable you to overcome all trials and suffering.
Tap into the feeling of being
Everyday distractions keeps you away from experiencing the joy of simply being. Practice meditation not to become whole, but to connect to your existing wholeness. Realise that wholeness is your birth right and you are more than a limited individual.
Just being is a familiar feeling that you have always known, although you may have ignored it until now. Notice how, when you are simply being, you are perfect just as you are. Affirm your intention to experience the feeling of being. With a regular practice, you can learn to connect to your existing wholeness amidst your daily life. During the practice, simply experience the presence and aliveness of being. Staying focused on the sensation of being slows your thinking and eventually turns off negative thoughts.
Connect to something bigger
Meditation helps us to get in touch with universal life force that connects us all. During the practice learn to align with this force. This connection with bigger force results in a state of well-being. With an expansive mind, you are not narrowly focused on how things should be and on other small desires, but will be able to see those as part of bigger picture.
Connecting to and experiencing the universal life force enhances concentration and your present opens up to infinite possibilities. This enables you to interact and respond rather than contract and react. The expansiveness of mind gives a meaning and purpose to your life.
Practice mindful breathing
Taking hold of your breath builds concentration. Meditating on your breathing is a natural and extremely effective tool to prevent dispersion and enables you to release obsessive thinking. Observing and following breath exhalations and inhalations enhances your ability to sense and respond to the information your body is sending.
Awareness of your breathing patterns allows you to make changes where required to maintain equilibrium. You can continue to do so while walking, sitting or when you are outdoors. You can also practice to count your number of inhalations and exhalations to develop focused attention and concentration. When you recognise you are distracted, gently bring back your attention back to your breath. Breath-counting helps you to maintain a single- pointed focus.
Meditating on your feelings and thoughts makes you stay calm, grounded, and healthy. There can be many disharmonious, negative, and disturbing thoughts that arise during the process. Meditate focusing on them. When such strong feelings arise, refusing to accept and labelling them as enemies will only make them come back more strongly as if they are here to convey important information.
You need to welcome and experience emotions both negative and positive. Know that they are not your enemies but are just seeking your attention. Learn to observe and respond instead of reacting. By focusing on every thought and its opposite, anxiety, fear, and self- judgements no longer control your life. You can no longer remain a hostage to your negative emotions.
Welcome feelings of joy
Joy is an essential emotion which is already within us, waiting to be experienced no matter what the outside circumstances may be. But many of us believe that it only comes by material possessions or achieving a particular outcome. We keep searching for it outside in objects, relationships, and other experiences. When you deny the feelings of joy which is a natural phenomenon, you lose life’s meaning and its purpose.
During meditation, welcoming the feelings of joy also brings with them its opposite. Experiencing both joy and its opposite makes you realise how stressful the opposite is and how it affects your body and mind. When it feels right, release the stressful thought and let joy radiate through you. This can unearth unchanging feelings of joy irrespective of the circumstances thereby reducing the perceptions of pain, anxiety, and depression.
Contemplate on interdependence
Meditating on the interdependent nature the universe makes you realise that everything is a part of an interconnected wholeness. We normally see reality in compartments and make boundaries around ourselves. Because of this we are unable to see the interdependent nature of the world we live in. We are connected and not separate in our suffering and in our desire to be happy.
When you live the sufferings and joy of others, you start to realise the impermanence of the universe and can strengthen the positive emotions of gratitude and compassion. Experience yourself as a unique expression of life, interconnected with the Universe.
Finally, Regular practice of meditation helps you to attain an ideal state of mind. A well disciplined and controlled mind is necessary for various aspects of well-being. Nourish your intention of making meditation a daily practice.
Nourish your intention to make the practice of meditation your own. Be patient with yourself and perseverant and you will be able to notice small changes right away.
We are product of our habits. Let go of negative habitual patterns to build positive habits.
“Chains of Habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”- Warren Buffet
Our habits define who and what we are. We struggle to kick deeply-ingrained negative habitual patterns and negative behaviours as we get used to a fixed mindset on things and on our habits. As a result, we get used to doing and thinking in some specific ways that it becomes hard to be able to transcend those habits.
Most of us find it hard to adopt and stick with new, healthier and safer habits. Even when we begin to follow a new pattern, we all have a tendency to revert to previous patterns during times of stress. This is due to the comfort factor associated with our older habits.
“Comfort comes as a guest, grows into a host and finally stays to enslave us.”
Unless we let go of old and negative habits, we cannot redefine ourselves in newer or better ways.
You are the product of your HABITS
Our habits define our comfort zones. Any violation of our comfort zone brings us discomfort. So is the case with the violation of some bad habits which when we let them go brings agitation, stress and even anxiety. Many struggle with a range of negative behaviours like smoking, overeating, lack of exercise, and excessive drinking and don’t think that these habits are unhealthy because either these habits make them feel stress free or feel good factor they bring with them. You need to do an honest evaluation of your habits as to whether they are positive or negative.
While evaluating your habits, focus on their relevance and impact. Are your habits strengthening you as a person or are they making you rigid and edgy. For instance, it is very essential to see when you decide to follow a particular habit, is it bringing with it restlessness, agitation or poor health. If it is, it is time to reflect upon those habits and is better to change them. Most of the times, we fail to let go of negative habits because of the comfort we feel inspite of these habits being wrong and harmful.
If you continue to hang on to the comfort of the older ways never attempting to change, these habits tend to degenerate your personality and they become toxic.
“The battle of big dreams, greatnesses is often the battle against our own ingrained habits.”
What makes a HABIT and how they work?
Three things that make a habit.
First, a habit is a specific behaviour not an overall goal or pattern of behaviour. It is like a learnt physical behaviour.
Second, a habit is something you do regularly in a particular situation. It is like a mental mannerism which is consistent.
Third, a habit requires little or no psychological effort to engage in. It is largely automatic.
Repetition and attention is the fuel that keeps habits going, both good and bad. A new behaviour you start to engage in isn’t always a habit. It becomes a habit once you have followed it for so long that it becomes a habit.
According to Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit”, every habit has four components and they form a habit loop.
The Cue causes you to start the habit.
The Routine that you engage in.
The Reward you get for doing the routine, and finally,
The Craving that drives your desire for the reward.
Habit loop identification makes it easy to break away from your bad habits.
There are many things that hold you back whenever you want to change or end a bad habit to create a new one. These things tend to push you back into the spiral of old patterns. Here are some things that hold you back from changing your habits
Lack of determination
Nothing can stop a determined mind from changing an old habit to a new one. But, do you have the determination? Do not let your mind completely disregard your own decisions. Whether you decide to follow a new diet or give up foul language, it is difficult to keep up unless you take it seriously. Be strict with your decisions even if they are difficult.
Lack of purpose
No clarity of purpose leads to lack of inspiration and rewards. If your cue is a negative purpose, then it is difficult to stick with it longer. For instance, it should not come with the intention of making others happy. This kind of negative approach makes your determination weak. You may attempt to change your habits, but this may end up making you angry, bitter and anxious to prove yourself to others. Allow a positive purpose to push you out of the old undesirable habits.
Lack of consistency
Motivation tends to be high when we start something new, then drops off after a while. Permanent habit change requires consistency and keeps you up to date with your new habits. Being consistent with newer habits lets you form new pathways for habit change system and helps you to stick with them. Choose a new habit and provide opportunities to establish the habit. Practice being consistent with your new pattern until it becomes a habit.
Lack of substitution
Whenever you attempt to let go to of old habits, your mind starts feeling deprived of the comfort which is associated with the old habit. The feeling of deprivation makes your mind too rigid to change your old habits. So the only way you can change your habit is to substitute them with newer habits that are equally rewarding and leave you feeling complete and better.
Lack of Belief
Our belief system has a great impact on our habits. We form many of our habits based on our beliefs. We may know and understand how risky certain negative behaviours are, but we indulge in some of them because of our ingrained beliefs. We fail to change them. But if we try to change the deep driving belief, we can change the habit.
Newer ways of thinking and doing will let you change your old beliefs and negative behaviour.
Your Habit Change System
According to the research, once you have followed a new habit or refrained from an old pattern for five days, it gets much easier to stick to and the odds that you will make that habit change stick becomes very high. Here are some ways to change your habits.
Break bad habits
Break away from your old habits. One way to do this is to suppress the cue that causes you to engage in that habit. Prevent cue from happening. Second way to end bad habit is to stop engaging in the routine. And the third way can be by sabotaging your reward so it feels less rewarding and satisfying whenever you indulge in a bad habitual pattern.
Choose one bad habit related to your goal and identify the cue, routine, reward for that and as well as its craving. Select one of the ways and use it every day to break that habit.
Build positive habits
There are some habits whose impact is much broader and they are habits behind habits and are called keystone habits. Building positive keystone habits can have cascading effect. For instance, being healthier makes you more productive, be less stressed out and you spend less on junk food.
To build keystone habits you can use cue piggybacking by choosing an event that occurs on a regular basis to act as the cue for your new habit, then start doing the routine every time your chosen cue occurs. You can also use chaining to build two or more habits that you will be doing one after the other. Try routine substitution to replace a old routine with new. The new routine has to fulfil the same craving as the old routine.
Hold yourself accountable and stay motivated
Avoid getting motivated only by external factors. This makes you feel like you are forced to do, rather than something you want to do. Intrinsic motivation is better when it comes to the habit change system. An external source of motivation that reinforces intrinsic motivation helps you to continue with changing your habits. Holding yourself accountable will get you through brief periods of temptation by strengthening your will power.
Improve your environment to improve your habits
Your behaviour and attitudes are often shaped by your environment. Conformity distorts your perceptual abilities. This impacts your personal development. Changing your environment helps you to maintain your good habits or change from old ones. Put yourself in an environment that supports the person you want to be. Think of one way you can alter your environment to make it easier to maintain your good habits.
Finally, Do not justify wrong habits. Negative self talk holds you back from changing your habits. Maintain your will power throughout your habit change system. Master yourself in ways that lead you into newer habits. Practice self- love and be kind to yourself.
Meditation helps us to understand the mechanism of the mind, to love, to live in the present, and to use the full potential of our lives.
Practice self appreciation to reinforce self- confidence and to grow your self-esteem
“Everything that happens to you is a reflection of what you believe about yourself. We cannot outperform our level of self-esteem. We cannot draw to ourselves more than we think we are worth.” – Iyanla Vanzant
Do you ever wonder why you are unable to accomplish your full potential. May be it is due to your inner critic who is constantly scrutinising and criticising your every action. This lowers your self-esteem and self-worth both which are essential for you to achieve your goals. Without these, your talents, skills, knowledge and intelligence can go untapped.
In today’s world, increasing competitiveness has led to a lot of achievement anxiety. Many suffer from dissatisfied selves and they often fear being left hopelessly behind. We begin to torture ourselves with thoughts about our inadequacies, starting from our appearances to the work we do to the success we achieve. This leads to people practice a habit of disesteeming. So how does one unlearn the practice of lowering their self-esteem and confidence?
Unlearning disesteeming can happen with learning to develop self-appreciation.
Importance of Self-appreciation
Self-appreciation is accepting yourself without the conditions of being perfect or attaining personal summit of any sort. This is a process of understanding your own value, and accepting what is real about yourself and what you want to do and what you want to be. By learning to appreciate yourself you receive positive reinforcements which further improves your self-esteem.
All of us nearly lose touch with our innate goodness and fail to love and appreciate ourselves. We cover it up with or come under the shadow of people’s opinions and expectations out of us. So, as a result we feel only partly deserving and begin to berate ourselves. If your mind is obsessed by thoughts of insecurity and inadequacy, it is due to the fact that such things have dominated your thinking for a long period of time. Deep within you begin to mistrust your ability to grasp opportunities and to meet responsibilities.
How deserving you are mostly depends on what you believe you deserve and only to the degree that you appreciate your inner worthiness. Success involves talent, effort and creativity, but first of all it requires self-confidence. Self-appreciation is sum of your overall sense of value, worth, goodness and deservedness and so is the measure of your confidence.
You need to learn how to start appreciating yourself and learn to give credit for strengths you possess. It is very essential to reappraise your self-esteem.
Here are some toxic thoughts you can eliminate in order to grow your self-appreciation and self-esteem.
Stop criticising yourself
If we tell ourselves that we are okay, no matter what is going on, we can make changes in our lives easily. It is when we make ourselves bad that we have great difficulty. When we get in the habit of judging ourselves, we lower our self-worth and feel not good enough. We find ways to keep ourselves miserable. We create illnesses, we procrastinate things that would benefit us. We fail to recognise our uniqueness when we get critical of ourselves and obscure it.
Your self-love must not be dependent upon you being perfect. Self-criticism might lead to more negative behaviour. Stop judging your own mistakes so harshly. Do not make the opinions of others more important than your own opinion of yourself. Tell yourself you are wonderful and praise yourself quite often.
“The things you don’t like about yourself don’t make you any less acceptable. Everyone has things they don’t like about themselves. No one is perfect. Learn to work with yourself and not against yourself. Learn to work with the parts of yourself you don’t like as much.”
⁃ Akiroq Brost
Stop being unkind to yourself
You need not hate yourself for having negative thoughts. Don’t blame yourself for negative experiences. Being kind to yourself means you stop all the blame and guilt. We all come under constant pressure of being perfectionists. Difficulties and problems tend to sap energy and we tend to yield lot of self-hate.
When you love and trust yourself, you are loving and trusting the wisdom that created you. If you are unkind to yourself, you are not trusting the wisdom that created you and you begin to develop a pessimistic view of world around you. This creates an obstacle that will inhibit your sense of self-appreciation. Begin to develop an optimistic view and appreciate your abilities. It is important to recognise that your view of things around you is based on how much you are kind to yourself and respect you have for yourself.
When you think that a bad situation is going to end up far worse than it actually is, you are catastrophising. In a way, you are blowing things out of proportion expecting worst out of life and out of many situations.
Scaring yourself with frightful thoughts makes situations worse than they are. Some do this when they are ill often visualising the worst. Some do this with their job. For instance, someone makes a remark at work, they think they are going to be fired. This leads to paralysing thoughts and leads to low self-esteem. Focus on your inner talk and match them with your desires and not with your fright.
When you are tensed and frightened, we shut off our energy. Take few minutes and allow the body and the mind to let go and relax. At any moment, practice taking few deep breaths. Appreciate yourself and affirm that you don’t have to go through life tense and frightened.
Stop negative self-talk
Negative self-talk refers to having negative image of yourself. Every time you say negative things to yourself you are appraising your negative self image. If you repeatedly think negative about yourself, you hold yourself back from having what you want. Very little you can do to better your situation with continued negativity.
Many negatively self-talk themselves out of success. They do this because of some difficulties or it is because they remember somebody talking down to them from their past. Every time a negative thought appears, switch it out with positive. Affirm that you deserve success and remove self-doubt and self-judgment. Unconditionally love yourself and begin with self-acceptance and self-love. Listen to your inner dialogue. Recognise negative self-talk and choose not to engage in it. Expel all thoughts of doubt and all lack of confidence.
“Relentless, repetitive self talk is what changes our self-image.” – Denis Waitley
Stop visualising negative outcomes
If you set out to do something, keep a solid picture of the completed work you are doing. You can create a clear, positive image that enhances a positive outcome. Formulate a mental picture of yourself succeeding. Never think of yourself failing. Doubting the reality of the mental image lowers your self-confidence and self-esteem.
Whenever a negative thought appears, deliberately cancel it out with a positive. Do not build obstacles in your imagination by expecting negative outcomes. Minimise your obstacles so as to eliminate them. Always picture yourself of succeeding no matter how badly things seem to be going at the moment. Mentally visualising and affirming your positives and emphasising them lets you rise out of any difficulty and leads to positive outcome.
Finally, fill your mind with peaceful and loving thoughts. Develop a loving attitude towards yourself. Feelings of self-love, self-appreciation and confidence depend upon the type of thoughts that habitually occupy your mind. Practice self-appreciation by making it a dominating habit. This develops confidence in your abilities regardless of what difficulties arise and you will be able to overcome them. Improved self-esteem disempowers your fears and insecurities.
To sum up—If you can be satisfied with yourself now, you can love and approve of yourself and begin to love and accept others as well.