Growing personally remains a matter of observing our habits and altering them. If we want to change, we need to break with our conditions and reveal our true needs. “Habit needs unconsciousness to be repeated. Where consciousness enters, habit falls.” Again I refer to Thích Nhất Hạnh here.
Habit has no power anymore as soon as we are aware of it. But how do we break the chains of habit and practice ‘change’ persistently? How do we get our willpower back?
There were so many things that I wanted to quit or change in my life. I read dozens of articles and books on self-improvement, on how to establish healthy routines and foster positive changes.
More and more I found out that if I want to live in a new way, I have to find out what are the old ways?
Simple, right? I have to avoid unhealthy behaviours. But what are these toxic behaviours? Smoking? Eating sugar? Drinking too much coffee? Yeah, these are the obvious ones. But what else is there? How many times have I found myself ruminating negative thoughts and mistakes? How many times do I still make others responsible for my feelings?
To get to the core of my toxic ways ot thinking I really need to have a closer look. How can I develop compassion for myself, if I don’t know me (well enough)? There are some easy steps that help me with the process of becoming more self-aware. I would like to share them with you in this threesome.
1. Practice Being Alert
Survey your behaviour – especially in conversations. I found out that a lot of times I take things too personal. This is a way of giving away my power. It is proof that I have problems with ‘staying with myself’. It is a sign for lacking self-awareness and at the end self-love.
It sounds familiar to you? So, what can you do instead?
Listen more than you speak. Watch yourself and see how your feelings resonate with the words that are spoken. When do you react emotionally? When do you get angry? When do you take things personally? Instead of plain reaction – get in touch with your emotions and desires. Ask yourself why you act like this? What would be an appropriate reaction?
By being aware of our reactions we are learning to review our thinking from a higher perspective. This way we can identify unhealthy thinking patterns.
2. Slow Down
Eat slow, walk slow, breathe slow, be slow. Abandon rushing from your life and everything will change. All of a sudden you will notice things that you’ve never noticed before. You will understand everything better.
“If you win time you win it all,” says Buddha and his disciples.
By paying better attention to our environment we automatically pay attention to what is happening inside of us. This doesn’t only give us the opportunity to act appropriate but also to arrive in the ‘now’. This is meditation – being slow.
3. Find the ‘Why’
I really need to understand the benefits of quitting a bad habit before I can alter it. For example: Theoretically I understand why eating sugar is a bad thing, but as long as I never find out what happens if I stop eating sugar / start meditating / going for a run in the morning I will never establish this habit.
I think this is why it is so hard to adapt the habits of ‘successful people’, because these habits might don’t suit our real needs. Journaling is might be helpful for people who like to write. But for some it is maybe not, because they get even more caught up in there strange thinking patterns.
We have to ask why in both directions. Why do we cling to negative habits? What can we do instead? And why / how changes a new habit my overall well-being? In any way we need to be open to ‘try something new’ every once in a while, if we really want to change our lives.