Participate in the process of listening

To actively engage yourself in listening is different from simply hearing.

“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know, but if you listen, you may learn something new.”

– Dalai Lama

Conversations are fundamental aspects of our everyday lives and work environments. Most of us engage in different conversations with friends, co-workers and family members. But most of the time we fail to give them our complete attention and thereby fail to listen to what other person is saying. Just hearing the other person and being fully present in the moment are not the same. Hearing is a physical, natural and passive process as compared to listening which is mental, active, and learned process.

People are often selective listeners. They focus on few key words and ignore most of the other communication. They get distracted by external factors like noises or random sounds, and internal factors like self-talk or thoughts or emotions. By passively absorbing, you cannot remember the context of what someone is sharing. The more vocal you are at meetings, at public functions or even social gatherings, the greater your perceived value as a keen-minded person and same holds true with listening. In expressing yourself verbally, you perforce have to take an “either or” position. In our zeal to be seen as being either “pro” or “anti” something, we often lose the sight of the larger picture. This larger picture can be seen only by engaging yourself in active listening.

Active listening is important to collaborate, to increase productivity and to fuel your creative thinking. It focuses on understanding the speaker beyond his/ her words and takes into account the feelings, emotions and beliefs underlying the speech. Active listening creates a safe, comfortable atmosphere to discuss and exchange thoughts and ideas.

What is Active listening?

It is a way of being attentive, fully present in the moment, concentrating, engaging in the conversation and absorbing what the other person is saying to you. The emphasis is on listening and involves being attentive and respectful to the speaker. This allows understanding, and builds rapport and trust with the person in conversation. It paves way for learning by expanding the conversation and provides a wider perspective of looking at things rather than in a limited context.

Most of the times we don’t actively listen to the information and ideas being shared by others as we are too eager to share our personal ideas. By actively engaging in listening to what is being shared helps you to know and acknowledge work-related or personal issues of other people.

When you fail at listening you are sending out an armada of negative messages. You are saying:

• I don’t care about you.

• I don’t understand you.

• You are wrong.

• You are wasting time.

Active listening is an important skill that needs to be developed and can be honed into a habit with practice. Here are certain ways to develop the habit.

Respond, Don’t react.

Do not give instinctive responses without proper understanding. Listen to the content of the speech by focusing on the specific words that are being used. Understand the context. Share feedback by responding to what is being shared.

Wait, Don’t interrupt.

Do not break the speaker’s flow no matter how important and relevant your input is. Wait until you are sure the person has completed what he or she had to say and then offer your inputs. Exercise patience, short periods of pause should be expected.

Encourage, Don’t ask close-ended questions.

Encourage the speaker with open-ended questions that begin with why, who, what, where, and how. Open-ended questions enable more descriptive answers and show that you are taking keen interest. Ask questions to understand things better and not in a bid to demonstrate your intelligence or superiority.

Focus, Don’t distract.

Distracting thoughts can pose a serious barrier to active listening. Become aware of your self-talk. Thoughts like ‘I think this person is just wasting my time’ can distract your active listening. Convert such self-talk into positive statements such as “There’s always something to learn from others.” Focusing on what is being said makes you a better listener.

Provide affirmations, Don’t be defensive.

Include words such as ‘sure’ or “that’s interesting.” Don’t let your emotions get in the way. Adopt a pragmatic approach as a listener. Instead of offering a counter argument, try to understand the other speakers’s point of view and try to see things from their perspective. Paraphrasing can eliminate misunderstandings and increases empathy and rapport. Paraphrased statements begin with “Are you saying that…” or “ What I understand is…”

How does Active listening help?

Learning how to be an active listener is very beneficial. In a professional context, active listening can help shape you into a better leader and co-worker. In a personal context, when you give your attention to people expressing thoughts and sharing their experiences, your ability to understand improves your perceived value.

Here are few ways in which being an active listener can help you overcome obstacles.

Provides optimal solutions.

Workplaces are often fuelled by stress and pressure that requires you to handle multiple situations and people. This can be often demanding and you have to make sure that all the tasks are tackled and addressed. Being an active listener —whether by asking questions or summarising to ensure clear and better understanding — helps you to quickly assess the problems and subsequently helps you arrive with accurate and optimal solutions and can resolve them in a timely manner. Without active listening, you would find gaps in your knowledge and you may not be able to offer a solution.

Provides fresh points of view.

Active listening makes you better focused at the new ideas presented at your work place or in your daily life. Active listening improves your ability to analyse and recognise the difference between facts and opinions. You can uncover the assumptions and be open to new ideas and relate to old ones. You will be better equipped to take useful notes and fresh points of view. This can further bring positive outcomes.

Builds trust and collaboration.

Encouraging your coworkers to freely reach out with their concerns makes you supportive person at work place. Knowing and acknowledging work-related or personal issues that they are dealing with will make you feel valued. Active listening forms the basis for lasting relationships and building trust whether between partners or workplace or parents and children and friends.

Children and adults who have been actively listened to are more emotionally mature, more open to sharing their experiences, less defensive and more cooperative.

Finally, Active listening strengthens interpersonal relationships and breaks down barriers. Always maintain eye contact and avoid distractions by muting cell phones and moving away from other electronic devices when you engage yourself in conversations with others.

Practicing active listening will help you become a better student, more efficient in your job, develop patience and send positive messages.

“We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.”

Zeno of Citium

Get into your “Productive State”

Only when your minds are clear and your thoughts are organised can you achieve effective results.

Most people have too much to handle and not enough time to get it all done or to be able to fulfil their commitments. People add to their stress levels by taking on more than they can handle. Various options and opportunities bring with them the pressures of decision making. These pressures make people frustrated about how to improve their situation. By learning productivity you can organise and prioritise better and you can get your time back so you can focus on making progress and helps you improve your situation.

Planning and scheduling your tasks helps you gain more focus. In the process, you can create a positive work atmosphere and lifestyle practices that foster clarity, control, creativity and relaxation.

Better organisational techniques like planning and preparing can enhance your productivity levels. Thinking in more effective ways to handle different work situations can make things happen sooner, better and more successfully.

There is no single technique or tool to perfect organisation and productivity. However, there are certain simple processes that we can all learn to use that will improve our ability to deal more proactively and constructively. These tools can help you focus your energies strategically to create better thinking habits and working environment which otherwise keeps most people from burning out due to stress.

It is possible for you to have an overwhelming number of things to do and still function productively and be fully present in the moment.

Here are some simple practices which can motivate you to become more productive.

Figuring out ‘why’

Why do you want to be more productive? Why are you putting up with a situation in your workplace? Do you want to be better at your job or do you want to get more things done and do more with your time?

Until you have the answer to your ‘why’, there is no possible way to come up with appropriate actions.

By having an answer to your why has following benefits:

• You can define success.

• You can make hard choices and take decisions.

• You can gather possible resources.

• You can be motivated and can have better focus.

Many people forget why they are doing something and what exactly they are trying to achieve – and a simple question like, “ Why am I doing that?” Can get you back on track. Finding the answer to your ‘why’ opens up wider possibilities and expands your thinking.

Figure out your purpose

All of us want to be better at what we are doing. So the main goal should be to find your purpose. To know and to be clear about the purpose can enhance your focus. Because it is easy to get caught up and let your real and primary intentions slip. Your purpose becomes a reference point for your time and energy spent.

Once you have the purpose defined, you can align your resources and can make your decision-making easier. Often the only way to make hard choices is to come back to the purpose of what you are doing. Just taking two minutes and writing your primary reason for doing something makes things clearer and clarifies your focus.

Find your time leaks

Doing things that bring you progress, getting better at your work, investing in compound time to develop your skills, and picking up healthy habits make you productive. Find out where your time is leaking in the process. Think of your top priorities and determine those activities that help you achieve or take you closer to your goals. That is your meaningful work. The rest are meaningless activities that steal your time.

Focus on what matters to optimise your efforts and where to allocate your time more efficiently. Being aware of all the activities that bring you closer to your goal and being aware of the ones that stall your progress help you get your time back.

Create and stick to your to-do list

Organise your daily tasks in order to get things done. Don’t get carried away by writing too long to-do lists. Being busy is not the same as being productive. Overloading your lists is not an effective to-do list format. If you always start with the easiest or most convenient ideas, you will end up pushing the best ones down the list.

Make sure that your to-do list has a purpose and other meaningful activities. Define your tasks related to your goals and order them by importance. If you do not manage to finish them all, move unfinished tasks to your list for the next day. Rinse and repeat. If you carry some tasks on for too many days in a row without working on them, get rid of those tasks completely.

Declutter & Prioritise

Decluttering your routine lets you devote your time to meaningful work. Write down your distractions and find multiple solutions to reduce them. For each distraction, figure out as many solutions until you find the one that works.

Prioritise your tasks according to your goals and choose those that most benefit your purpose.

It will be difficult to cut down your priorities when you have more on your plate to do than you can comfortably handle. Prioritise on the basis of your long term and short term goals, accountabilities, values, areas of focus and current projects. Combine the things you want to do with things you should do.

Get your routine done

It is very easy to start a task you want to do. But what about those tasks you have absolutely no motivation to do? The ones you procrastinate far too long over and never get around to doing? Putting off important tasks can rob your hours of achievement and can become a chronic cycle.

Slacking off and doing unimportant tasks, putting off other tasks makes you habituated to the same process. Then, the loop continues to repeat. You are avoiding the task either because you are not organised or because you are prioritising low value work. To avoid procrastination, identify what you are putting off and do those tasks right away. If getting started is the hardest part, set a designated time slot to do the task.

Stay consistent

The majority of us fail at building life-changing habits because we start strong and give up easily. You need to put effort into accomplishing your goal. Even he tiniest of efforts, when consistently done, brings good results.

Figure out which skill to work upon in order to reach your goal and the task you need to do everyday. Once you have zeroed in on the skill and activity, mark the days you will be working on it and focus on growing your progress on the same. Do not break the chain of progress so that you become consistent with your talent/ skill.

Use your gap time productively

Gap times occur between meaningful activities. Optimise your gap time so you can further develop the skill you need to make you productive. Gap times are small breaks in your schedule or at work, or when you are on long breaks from your work.

Be as strategic about your breaks as you are about your day in general. To use your gap times productively, think about small projects you can accomplish like learning something new, planning your week/day, cleaning up or even working on your other ideas.

Finally, Stay focused.

Think about the last time you felt highly productive. You probably had a sense of being in control without too much stress. You were probably highly focused on what you were doing and you felt you were making progress.

Next time around if you get far out of that state—and start to feel out of control, stressed out , unfocused and bored—get yourself back into your “productive state.” Hopefully the above methods can inspire you to become more productive and work towards attaining your goals.

Break your worry habit

Break your negative habitual worry patterns to improve your potential.

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“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.

Practice Gratitude

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tune into your inner state of well-being

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.

Accept your thoughts and emotions

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.

“The mind is everything. What you think you become” – Buddha

Transcend your negative habitual patterns

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.