Changing habits is not always a piece of cake and takes time!
Did you know that 95% of our habits make our day-to-day life?
Changing habits is not always a piece of cake, right?
Some people like change, and some resist change.
I don’t know about you, but although I like to change, it is not always easy, and more importantly, it doesn’t go fast!
Social media, news, magazines, and many marketing promotions often create this image that it is easy to change and you can change overnight - change your habit XYZ, and you will lose weight, sleep better, enjoy a better relationship/partnership, or become a better leader in only 2-3 weeks.
To be clear, that is nonsense and an illusion.
The truth and fact is changing a habit is not always easy, and it takes time. Change and transformation will take time and needs space! Please keep this in mind.
That is simply because of how our brain is made up and how it works/functions. I will not go deeper into the neurobiological explanation of our brain in this blog article - that’s for another post or article.
Do you want to change a habit in your life and make it happen?
Here are 5 Tips to begin with:
Be aware that change takes time. It is not a linear process. It happens gradually. Along the way, you may experience setbacks. That’s okay! For example, getting rid of coffee took a while for me, and it happened gradually. Of course, I experienced several setbacks along the way. Today I don't drink any coffee anymore, nor do I have any coffee cravings. Was it easy? Nope - not for me, who used to enjoy coffee for several reasons. Does it help my overall health? Absolutely! I see and feel the benefit today!
Be gentle with yourself - often, we are so hard and strict with ourselves when we want to change a habit. Especially when we experience a setback and fall back into an old habit. Again be gentle, kind, and compassionate with yourself. Change is not always easygoing.
Invite your environment in your process of change and engage them positively - it will help you be more successful in changing your habits. For example, you would like to enhance your habit of setting healthier boundaries. You can invite and say to your spouse/partner/friend, “hey, I aim to work on my setting boundary habit by saying more often no to things that I don’t want to do instead of saying yes, could you support me?
Create situations that will support your process. For example, you want to reduce or get rid of drinking coffee. Don’t have any coffee powder sitting around at your home so that you won’t be tempted every time you see the coffee powder at home. And if family members enjoy coffee every so often, tell them to put the coffee powder somewhere where you don’t see it or won’t have access to it.
.Most importantly, take baby steps and keep going on a consistent basis, even if you experience setbacks. Consistency is key.
If your environment is not very supportive
If your environment is not very supportive, you may likely experience issues along your way to manifest your desired change. For example, your family shows up not to be very pleased when you say no to things because they will be challenged to take responsibility for more things that you used to do for them before.
In that case, you may then watch out for an alternative helpful team/environment other than your family. People who will really support you and care for you on your journey so that you will succeed in your desired change process.
By inviting your environment into your process, the environment will change with you, and it will be much more successful and actually also more enjoyable.
Setbacks are part of a change process
Setbacks are part of a change process, and that’s okay. Setbacks are more likely to come when we are stressed and we want to change a habit simultaneously. Parts of our brain switch into survival mode when stressed, and we will lose willpower and cognitive abilities/skills and fall back into the old habits that we have trusted for so long.
What do you need to make changes happen?
Number one: Self-awareness. Self-awareness of your current situation, environment, and ability of boundary setting ( therefore, you need to become and deepen your knowledge of boundaries)
Self-awareness of how we move, act, think, feel, eat, drink, and behave.
Becoming aware of the habits that are happening 95% of the time in our daily life and shining a spotlight on them.
Shining a spotlight on your habits so that you can see " ahhh - this is how I do XYZ - this is how I behave - this is how I feel in situation XYZ, how do I move, how do I look at someone, how do I speak to someone - this is how someone reacts to, and I can change that and so forth - this kind of awareness is what I try to describe you here.
Number two: training the observer muscle in you. Learn to observe yourself and learn not to take things personally. If we take things personally, then we get caught and hooked on our habitual pattern again.
The critical commentator voice in us
We have this critical inner commentator voice, often also described as sabotaging inner voice running in us day in and day out. This critical inner commentator will talk to you negatively; for this commentator, we will never do anything right, and we will never be enough. Observe your inner self-talk. Depending on how that voice is colored, it has much to do with your self-worth and self-esteem. The good thing is we all can learn to be kinder to ourselves over time and talk to ourselves in a warm and kind way so we can leave this critical, harsh commentator in us at the door. We can learn to stop giving permission to this inner commentator to put us down or have power over us. You want to train this voice to observe and not comment all the time - this will give you a great new attitude toward life. I know what I'm talking about. If our inner commentator constantly comments when something has not worked out again, and we talk very hard or strict with ourselves or punish us for it - that is very demotivating. Similarly, if you tell a child that is just starting to learn to walk and you tell the child after getting up ten thousand times you will never learn it or you comment impatiently why you fall again, the child becomes demotivated and eventually gives up. Instead, I invite you to develop an observing benevolent mind that says in repeating situations, for example, "hey, now this is happening again, observe this and take a close look at what is happening right now."
4 Step mindfulness practice to monitor our thoughts
In addition, I will share with you a 4 Step mindfulness practice to monitor our thoughts and rewire the mind. Any time when a negative thought arises, create more space for the thought and become observant by these 4 steps:
Notice the thought: Is this thought serving me? Is it creating more peace?
Ask yourself if the thought decreases or increases your energy. Is this thought activate and uplift my energy? Or does this thought diminish or deplete my energy? Is it weighing me down? Do I feel constricted? Is it amplifying my energy, my life force, or is it depleting?
Banish the negative thought: cancel /clear that thought or visualize a sword like a samurai - you are aware of which thoughts are getting into your body- mind- psyche and which aren’t. Actively, mindfully choosing which thoughts I am paying attention to. Actively leading your thoughts
Replace it with a positive reframe (=replacement therapy)
F.ex. I see something on social media, and it triggers a negative thought pattern in me of comparison, competition such as I’m not doing enough or I'm not good enough or I will never get there … interrupt the cycle by saying:" stop I banish that thought and replace it with for example I appreciate myself, I am doing enough, I am enough, I have enough, I have all the time to create XYZ... create any reframe that honors yourself, your strengths, your resilience. Most battles we are fighting are in our minds. Make the process of changing a habit easier for you by creating a supportive environment and supportive situations. Homework for you
I will leave you with homework: Become aware of your habits. Then learn and train yourself to observe when your habit snaps. As always.... If you need professional support, ask for help and reach out. Reach out to me and send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop a comment below.
Till next time, ~Annabelle