Habits Get a Bad Rap

I think habits get a bad rap. Quite often when someone is mentioning a habit they are talking about something “bad” they want to change. I try not to refer to anything as “bad” anymore. When I remember to re-frame my thinking I will look at “bad” as an excellent teacher. For instance I will objectively watch myself and simply notice what I seem to do all-the-time that I want to change. I will then do a kind of self-interview and ask…

– why do I do this habit?
-how does it serve me?
-what prompts me to do it? -like an association from someone or other activity
– and do I have a belief that is the driving force behind it?

– next I will ask what would be the opposite of this habit and do I want to find a way to have that in my life instead.

Painting HabitMy most recent experience of changing or shifting habits as I prefer to think of it, was watching less TV in the hope I would get back to doing my watercolor painting which I actually love more. I am using a tip I got from Martha Beck called “Ridiculously Easy Steps.” It works like this. Instead of berating myself for doing the “bad” habit item I simply notice it, allow and accept that this is the best I can do right now AND in the next moment I can do better. So I begin to add my new better step in small “Ridiculously Easy” measures. Instead of attempting to watch less TV I simply add in the time I want to paint. I have discovered it works best at the end of my day. If I am tired I will pull out one of my art books and read it for 15 minutes or I will literally just sit in my art studio for 5-10 minutes. I created a whole list of baby steps and commit myself to doing one EVERY day. That’s the key to changing or building on a new habit. I think it’s best to let go of the idea of changing yourself and just think of it as shifting or adding in something you want more. Many of us cringe and get our dander up when we think there is something about us we need to change.  Next we do this for 21 daysIn A Row! That’s the behaviorist key for habit forming. Once we do something for 21 straight days it becomes embedded in our psyche. I have done this before and by the time the 21 days are up the time I spend doing the new activity actually increases and the new habit is formed.

“Life is what happens when we make plans” is a famous quote so from time to time I check my daily routine to see if “life” has forced new habits on me and have I lost something I love like my daily painting routine. It seems to be a frivolous activity (I am not a pro after all) yet it is very important to my souls energy and I have learned never to discount what my soul longs for.

So how do you feel about the word habit? Is it a positive energy word or a negative one? Do you have any new habits or routines you would like to add to your life? Pick a time and the activity then make it really, really easy to do and see if you can build on it over time. Martha Beck writes in her book that for her to develop the exercise at the gym habit, her first Ridiculously Easy step was to simply drive to the gym and park her car. She didn’t even get out for the first week. Gradually she did and now she is amazingly fit and trim.

It’s like pennies. We think they are not worth much but when you stop to consider that a million dollars starts with that first penny … you can see how it all adds up and one penny worth of effort will make your dreams come true!

’till next time,
Your Personal Space Coach

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