Your life is filled with patterns. From the moment you wake up to the time you tuck into bed at night, you follow patterns of behaviour that are commonly called habits. Some of these habits are good for you, and you probably think some of them aren’t.
These so-called bad habits can take up an inordinate amount of your attention. You can become fixated on trying to stamp out bad habits permanently from your life in the belief that the habit is what’s holding you back from happiness.
What if the habits aren’t the real issue? What if you could use your habits to your advantage as signposts for growth instead?
How can you do this?
What if, instead of thinking of a habit as bad in the first place, that you simply see it as a habit. Not good, not bad, just a habit. A pattern of action. When you take the emotional charge out of the judgement on your habit, you can look at the habit with more compassion and see it as a way of coping with something else in your life causing you difficulty.
Additionally, when you examine all of your habits, instead of just focusing on the “bad” ones, you’ll potentially come to an awareness that some of the habits you don’t think are an issue are actually more of an issue that the ones you believe are bad in the first place. The point is to examine exactly what is making you focus so much attention on your perception of the “bad” ones, letting all of the rest of your habits remain unchallenged.
Let’s try a simple example.
Imagine you find yourself tired every day before lunch-time. You could potentially believe that you’re a busy person and you have a “bad” habit of taking on too much work. Looking only here would lead you to think that less work would be the solution. But you examine patterns, other factors could potentially jump out as an underlying root cause.
To begin, you will need to make a list of all of the habits, the patterns, you perform during a typical day.
It might start off something like this:
- Wake up 7am
- Put on slippers
- Open blinds in bedroom
- Make bed
- Get dressed
- Do hair
- Feed cat
- Get kids ready for school
- Get ready to go to work
- Drive to work
You get the idea. Wait though, there’s a habit in here that may not initially come to your attention. You habitually skip breakfast. You’re just grabbing a bite of two of toast, and then rushing into the day with a low amount of fuel in the tank. Habits are also the things you forget or neglect to do. Could this be a place for potential growth?
What if eating breakfast was the answer to helping you feel far less tired every day?
What would it take to change the habit of skipping breakfast into one where you eat more? What could you set as a trial to see if food helps you get more out of your day?
After all, medical studies have reliably shown that people who eat breakfast are healthier, get more accomplished and are generally happier. What would it take for you to eat breakfast regularly?
Supporting this new pattern!
You can brainstorm ideas to help support the trial-run of this new habit.
- Sit down and create a list of breakfast foods that you enjoy. Buy these foods and keep them stocked for quick access in the kitchen.
- Cut out your evening snacking, or reduce it significantly. This will help you ensure a good appetite come breakfast-time.
- Write out a list of the benefits that come with eating breakfast and then post them on the refrigerator so that you see them when you get up in the morning.
- If eating first-thing is still a challenge, try eating half an hour to one hour after arising and see if this helps make a difference.
- Start with smaller portions and work your way up to potentially larger quantities.
- Increase this amount until your body actually starts looking forward to having that smaller portion each day.
- Try not to skip any days once you start practicing his new habit. Especially at the beginning of a new pattern, it’s an easy matter to slip back into the previous one.
- Create a breakfast trigger. For example, as soon as you finish your first cup of coffee, then make something for breakfast.
- Increase the amount of food daily until you are having a full, healthy breakfast.
- Write down any benefits you notice from eating breakfast.
There are so many actions you can explore in order to make headway into solving the initial problem you noticed in your day.
Hopefully this article has helped expand your thoughts on how to make your habits work for you instead of worrying whether they’re good or bad!
A life coach can help you find the areas you might not be paying attention to and helping support your journey into making progress on these goals. Be in touch today and make the changes you’ve always wanted to!