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.
Seeing things from a new point of view can be very enlightening. Be open to change your perspective.
“ It is your vibrational thoughts that give life to the goals you wish for”
Are you holding on to fixed ideas or assumptions about yourself?
Are you allowing yourself to be controlled by the past failures?
If yes, then you are limiting your abilities by holding on to self-limiting beliefs. These limiting beliefs of yourself hold you back from reaching your full potential.
The preconceived ideas tend to block your possibilities to do what you want to do. Dreams are essential, but it is also important to know what is keeping you from having it. Sometimes that might be your limiting subconscious belief.
Let us look at some of the self-limiting-beliefs.
Beliefs like “I can’t do” or “I am not intelligent enough” or “I’d fail if I tried” or “ “I lack the experience” and so on destroy your desires. Many tend to attribute their lack of success to not being able to have proper education or financial stability and live a life consumed by their inadequacies.
Some don’t want to move out of their secure zone. Belief like “I am secure where I am” puts limits to explore new possibilities or keeps them from taking a different approach towards their goals.
Thinking “There is no way to solve the problem” or “competition is just too much” or “I am not capable enough” make you hit the rough barrier soon and kill your desires.
The size of your goals and abilities depend on your environment. Your ambitions and personality is the result of your psychological environment. The environment in which you belong might label your ideas as ‘impractical’ ‘foolish’ ‘luck determines success’ ‘you are too old’ or ‘too young’ and so on.
You subconsciouslychoose or attract those people and experiences you believe you deserve. If you feel worthy you tend to make productive choices. If you feel unworthy, you tend to make limiting choices. Low self-worth generates tendencies to sabotage your own efforts. You may start to feel unlucky as things don’t turn out well.
All these perceptions make your perspective narrow. You fail to make out the overall picture and you will not be able to seek new solutions or take different approaches. You end up making limited belief that you can’t get ahead, so you don’t bother to try. Sometimes these same perceptions lead to self-destructive behaviour.
‘You are what you Think’ is an eternal truth. The words you say matter. So do your thoughts. If you want something different out of your life, then you have to do something different. Similar is the case with your thoughts. To overcome your limiting beliefs or whatever you find yourself complaining, you can make changes by taking responsibility of your thoughts. You can bring about a change in your perception of situations, problems and people in your life by adopting a new point of view. Seeing things from a different perspective creates new opportunities.
At every opportunity, it is important to believe that you have the potential to do better than you are now and should be willing to make an effort to overcome your self-limiting-beliefs.
There might be many detours on your path towards your goal. You can take these detours in your stride by Revolutionising Your Perspective. (RYP)
Changing your perspective lets you work around the hurdles. For instance, while driving, if you come to road closed’ situation, this simply means you can’t go where you want to go on this road. You will find another road that takes you where you want to go. You don’ have to change your desired goal.
Here are some aspects to consider to revolutionise your perspective. (RYP)
Be master of your own time
Some do extremely well when they are on tail wind, but as soon as they run into a head wind, they cannot cope. Sailing along in good winds is easy. As soon as the wind swings and changes it’s direction, they get self limiting and cannot move forward.
RYP by demonstrating a strong will and showing tenacity. Think back to how you were a year or two years ago, about your achievements, have gone forward or backward, have you stayed or continued on right path. You will find that although you may have suffered certain set backs in some instances, on the whole you would have made a steady progress. You will come to realise that setbacks or hardships in your life were very brief and were temporary. If you focus only on the difficult times you will end up getting discouraged. Mastering your time makes your will resolute to move forward in difficult winds.
Is it sufficient for us to advance in just one direction. Following just one pattern of thinking limits our possibilities. No one is perfect or capable of sailing through without any problems. The reality is people move to the left then to right, they fail and go down, then they stand up again.
RYP by not clinging to a particular method or fixed notions from your past. Unidirectional approach limits your possibilities and ideas. Being flexible in hard times lets you get through difficulties. Explore new possibilities to get around the problem. A path is sure to open up if you are willing to change. If your limitation is that goal is too big, divide it into small realistic steps. If you think you are not qualified enough,try to gain some required skills and apply them to achieve your purpose.
Be flexible and think of ways to turn the situation to your advantage.
Use adversity as springboard
No one can sail through life or travel on their path without facing set backs, failures and difficulties. Life is not necessarily filled with good experiences, even before you were born. So you are not here simply to have everything run smoothly for you.
RYP by taking difficulties or set backs as experiences provided to make you strong and turn them into opportunities to grow. We are here to accumulate different experiences by repeating the process of trial and error. Make the utmost effort with all the knowledge, skills and ideas you possess to cope with adversity. Do not let yourself swept away by the tides of adversity instead use it as a springboard to move forward.
Think like long distance runner
There are always two ways of considering a situation, short-term and long-term. You may not be a sprinter, but this doesn’t mean that you do not have the ability to run. It is true that people have different levels of ability. Some can master something in short term but some take longer time.
RYP by thinking like long-distance runner. Inspite of being a slow learner or with no potential to do well, with continued effort and certain amount of discipline you can achieve what you desire in the long run. A short-term perspective sometimes has a probability of being less successful and has more chances of people concluding that they are no good and ending up having no goal. In the first place. The fact that you did not succeed in short term doesn’t mean that you cannot in long term. It is necessary to extend your time frame to meet your desired goal and you can do so with better ability.
Nothing in this world is a waste
Sometimes the people in your life become your limiting factor. The main problem lies in our incorrect perception of people and things around. This distorted perception of others makes us moan and complain. We tend to categorise them as good and evil and criticise, dislike and distrust. Because of this many wish if they were in a better situation or with better company or with better people. This becomes a major hurdle in working along with others.
RYP by changing your outlook. Ask yourself if there is some other way of seeing a situation. When you happen to meet people you dislike, try and figure out why they are disagreeable to you, or why their character displeases you, or why they have a pessimistic attitude. Unless you adopt to the belief that these negative views cannot be true, you cannot change your perspective. Sometimes it is only our wrong understanding and our distorted views that limits our knowledge about others.
Aim for a goal one step higher
Some find that they are capable of reaching certain point only to discover that success eludes them. Their subconscious fear of total success makes them anxious as they feel that they have not earned it. As a result, they fail to achieve their goals when they have only a little further to go.
RYP to overcome this kind of situation. Instead of getting into trouble, when approaching your goal, practice setting your sights on a goal that is even higher. Making a habit of thinking one step ahead. Plan for your next step and aim for a higher goal. There is always a higher mountain waiting to be tackled. This makes you less anxious towards your present purpose and prepare you better for your next move.
To sum up, you can train yourself not to limit yourself as you have every potential to become what you think you are. So get down to the deepest level, find your limited thinking and beliefs, and try to change your perspective to make them supportive to what you want to achieve. Adopt to a new way of thinking.
There is a dark side within all of us, whether we display it or not that puts a fierce resistance to change. We are always under pressure to be good and we don’t want to show our less politically correct selves. Broadcasting an image merely to seek appreciation and acceptance of others erodes our self esteem. Even talented and successful people remain anxious and insecure if they hide behind a social mask.
Your personal shadow is the sum of those aspects of your being that you deny, repress, devalue and disown. These rejected qualities of your personality need not necessarily be evil,immoral or negative. They force our mind to come up with reasons to disown or reject them. “What you reject, for whatever reason, becomes part of your shadow. In other words, your shadow is what you insist you are not.”
According to Carl Jungian Philosophy, the shadow is the Unconscious part of our minds. In a person with low self-esteem, these shadow parts could end up overtaking some of the positive aspects. Fear of being judged for these negative aspects of your personality might lead to suppression of more feelings which may not be totally negative. For instance, many men, rejecting fear, bury their sensitive and nourishing qualities into their shadow. Many women rejecting anger, push their assertive, warrior qualities into their shadow. We always try to build an image in our ego that fits into positive version of ourselves. When we fail to achieve this version which we built, we give rise to a host of negative reactions.
Accepting your ‘self’ with both positives and negatives not only improves your self-esteem but also opens up a possibility to change and provides an opportunity to grow. For instance, Knowing that you have a lazy side helps you to consciously indulge in work rather than giving into your tendencies.
Illuminating your dark side
“Your shadow lives a life of unseen feelings, animating forces, and stifled roles that cry out for repression.”
When you start illuminating, you will be able to channel their expression in positive and constructive ways.
1. Makes you ‘complete’ by embracing your feelings, tendencies and highs & lows. In finding wholeness, you become willing to accept what you have and opportunities whether or not you feel worthy.
2. You regain your ‘authentic self’. Most of us fear that if other people really know us, they would reject us and we tend to show ourselves in bits and pieces. By accepting your dark side, you come to realise there is nothing left to hide.
3. You regain ‘control’ on your life. Your shadow is what you have not seen. It is the unknown that always tends to have control. You don’t have to deny your darker side. Acknowledging your dark side lets you regain your control on your life and you can act decisively.
4. You experience greater ‘freedom’ and ‘Compassion’ towards others. When you come to discover your shadow, you free the energy and attention that was previously bound up in defending an idealised self-image. We come to realise that we too share same fears and pretences and it becomes more difficult to criticise others.
“ knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness of other people.”- Carl Jung
Ways to illuminate your dark side.
Through Meditation and confession.
Confession is good for the self and meditation is yet another form of confession. In meditation, the content you hide from the world rises to the surface of your awareness to be noticed. Confession acts as light that illuminates your dark side. Don’t try too hard to destroy or make it disappear. Take notice of the dark side. Just illuminating the shadow reveals that the shadow you feared might destroy you is the one that can set you free.
Through finding your balance.
There is always a tug-of-war between opposing values inside of us. Finding a balance by learning to cooperate by integrating the aspects of our character that we previously rejected helps us to illuminate the dark side. Finding greater balance helps us integrate all our inner conflicts and inconsistencies thereby creating an opportunity for a flexible approach to life and to change into the person you want to be.
Through Contemplation and reflection.
Contemplation is focused reflection on a particular aspect that leads to a better insight and improves your awareness. By contemplating on what you gave and received and what troubles or difficulties are caused because of you reveals much of your shadow side. You begin to see the reality by observing what most bothers or irritates you about other people and makes you realise that those very qualities you would most strongly deny if accused of having.
Reflecting on your relationship with others shifts your attitude from resentment to gratitude and criticism to kindness. When you look at your own tendencies and consider carefully what you can do about them, you will be able to live constructively.
Illuminating your shadow reveals your dependence on unconditional worth of reality which includes all things and people around you.
As your understanding of ‘self’ improves, you will be able to eliminate worries, anger and anxiety.
continue to refine yourself by illuminating your shadow.
“No matter how well informed you may be, no matter how highly developed are your intellectual abilities, without right focus and concentration you cannot achieve perfection.”
Your focus determines the experiences you have and the experiences you have determine the life you live. Each time you focus negatively on things, your brain solidifies its habitual pathways and distracts and takes you away from your abilities. A positive focus increases your potential by not wasting your attention levels and gives you better access to your abilities.
To achieve life of your desired experiences, you need to strengthen your positive focus and should stop focusing on negative pathways. With right focus, you can manage yourself and your time in a more productive manner. Concentrating on the activities you choose enables you to create a life of your choice by devoting more time to your priorities.
Essence of right focus
Focus is not only essential in our professional life, but also is important in our personal lives. We need right focus in order to develop some skills to improve things and solve problems in our day to day life.
The ability to focus develops a strong will which can be applied to change your habits or mindsets in order to improve your productivity. Strong will to focus weakens the distractions thereby inhibiting the wrong impulses and improves self-control which leads to good emotional adjustment, better interpersonal skills, and adaptability.
“Those who focus best are relatively immune to emotional turbulence. The power to disengage our attention from one thing and move it to another is essential for well-being.”
Power of right focus
One essential quality for the success is the ability to concentrate entire thought upon the idea you are working on. All achievements in any line of work is the result of having right focus. Practicing focus management lets you explore by disengaging yourself from distractions and search for new possibilities. This makes you flexible to choose what is important to you and does not let distractions derail your aspirations and intentions.
By improving your focus, you can gain more skills to do better work each day.
Focusing and directing your attention to the right things and the ability to guide the others attention in the rightful direction also develops your leadership skills and makes you a good decision-maker.
Focus is developed by making conscious effort and it takes great mental strength but once learned takes you closer to the realisation of your dreams.
6 Keys to build right focus
1. Set a clear goal
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”
Know what you want by setting clear goals and purpose. When you have a clear goal, you know what will get you closer to it and what won’t and you don’t get caught up in distractions. This way, you don’t end up wasting time on things that hold you back. Knowing your purpose is sometimes all you need to build your focus.
“ Focus is not just selecting the right thing, but also saying no to the wrong ones.” Whatever is relevant to your goal gets priority.
2. Develop a strong will-power
The will- power can guide your inner focus towards achieving your goals. “It acts like a beam of light. It does little if gets scattered, but if you use it to focus, it can work like laser.”
An extrinsic motivation can only keep you focused for short time, but you need to develop a strong will to build right focus to act on your goals for longer time and to keep you on the right path tuning out distractions. Apply the will power to focus on desired habits.
3. Have better self-control
“Focus on your potential instead of your limitations.”– Alan Loy McGinnis
All of us have different tendencies. One wants us to advance towards our dreams and goals and the other wants to pull us back and distracts. Both natures try to gain control. The one that we focus upon gets cultivated and decides what we become.
Focus on your abilities and not on your limitations or fears. Choice lies with us whether we allow the inner self to control us or whether we will be controlled by the brute within us.
4. Practice gratitude
Be thankful to what you have. This creates the right focus on your abilities to achieve your goals. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you weigh yourself down by self created negativity. Practice being unattached to the results or outcomes of your tasks. Focus on what is in front of you and on the process, this creates a clear vision. Appreciate yourself everytime you apply right focus each day to accomplish these goals.
5. Avoid multitasking
Some of us scatter our focus trying ṭo get too many little things done instead of focusing on higher priority tasks. When jugglers keep objects in the air at once, they focus on only one object in any given moment, if they scatter their attention among all objects, they may drop all of them.
Multitasking leads to inefficiency and creates stress. So focus on your priorities and handle them one at a time. Do those things more slowly and completely to maintain and gain more focus.
6. Practice being in the moment
Most days, our minds are in ten different places at any one time. As soon as we try to focus, thousands of undesired impulses rush into the brain and try to disturb us. By developing present moment awareness you will be able to reclaim your focus and will be able to unlock your full potential. Devote time to practice mindfulness and try doing your daily activities as form of meditation by concentrating and doing them slowly and completely.
Finally, commit to yourself by eliminating multitude of distractions in your life by concentrating on only those activities that have power to make a difference in the way you want to live or work. You can direct your attention towards finding your focus and develop the confidence to stay committed and motivated to achieve your goal. A sustained focus refines your efficiencies and improves your overall performance.