The Good and the Bad: Your Defaults
Almost everything you think, do, and believe is based in habits.
Try this: handwrite, brush your teeth, or eat with your non-dominant hand for a day or two. Notice what happens.
When I tried to brush my teeth with my left hand I had to pay close attention and really concentrate to do it awkwardly and not very effectively. In fact, I realized at one point that I had switched back to my right hand without even noticing it when I allowed my focus to wander.
These habits, or powerful default patterns, allow us to become very efficient and more effective at the things we do every day. Life is so much easier because we can do, think, and believe without having to think about how, what, when, where to do it. Thank goodness we don’t have to repeatedly re-learn how to walk, talk, speak, or shake a hand every day!
However, the very power of our positive habits is, paradoxically, what makes our ‘negative’ defaults so challenging. Why does this matter?
Well, how many of your habits would you like to change: Smoking? Complaining? Avoidance? Sugar? Fear? Anxiety? Blaming? Shyness? Over compensating? Controlling? ….?
What new habits would you like to cultivate: Presence? Kindness? Productivity? Gratitude? Confidence? Regular exercise? Meditation? Joy?
Plus, our habitual thinking interferes with our capacity for innovation, creativity, curiosity, and insight, as well as change, growth and adaptation. If ‘change is the only constant’, how are we to keep up with it?
Whatever you are ready to change, you will have to identify it, and become so familiar with it that you can interrupt the old habit and choose something different.* It’s all about ‘out with the old and in with the new’ neurological pathways in your brain and body.
Over time, and with practice you can build a new habit even as you undo the old one. Just like the old path through the forest, it will become overgrown and harder to follow as you create the new one across the meadow to your future self.
We empower ourselves by way of becoming truer to the clarity of who we really are.
We grow and develop by choosing the habits which support us.
Here are a few tips on the process:
- focus on only one habit at a time
- get the support you need to be held accountable to following through
- practice interrupting the old by noticing our thoughts, beliefs and behaviors including physical sensations and the story associated with it*
- as you become consciously familiar with it, choose something better
- practice: the new only becomes a habit over time
- keep noticing how this impacts you and adjust accordingly
*See the page about Practicing Choice under the Coaching tab above.
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