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Many People Fall Into This Trap Of Thinking. If You Can Overcome This, You’ll Be Outstanding

Many People Fall Into This Trap Of Thinking. If You Can Overcome This, You’ll Be Outstanding

It’s February now, and chances are, most of us have long since let go of our resolutions for 2017. It’s such a familiar happenstance – you want to lose weight and get fit, so you start an exercise routine. You pat your back every day that you do it. One day, you fall ill or just have too much work to do. So, you skip exercise that day. Then, you skip another day and one more. And then, poof, exercising is out the window altogether. Why? Because we fall into the trap of thinking that it’s everything or nothing!

It is the greatest mistake of all to do nothing because you can only do a little…

Imagine a day when you have far too many errands to run and a lot to do on the professional front too. That day, you know you cannot make it to the 50-minute yoga class or the 45-minute bike ride. But, what stops you from taking a quick 15-minute jog? We stop ourselves. We fall into the trap of thinking that if we cannot do it fully, we cannot do it at all. It’s a perfectionism trap – it either has to be done perfectly, or it shouldn’t be done at all.

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Those harsh, unrealistic promises we so often break

We often tend to slip from our goals or even resolutions because we tend to make very black and white promises to ourselves. It’s like when you drink too much at a party, wake up with the mother of all hangovers, and swear that you will never touch another drop of tipple for as long as you live, so help you God. How long does that last? A day or two, or maybe till the next weekend. You drink again, and it’s back to berating yourself and your ineffectual willpower.

The problem doesn’t lie in your willpower to begin with. It lies in making all-or-nothing promises to yourself and falling victim to this trap of thinking. Instead of harshly telling yourself to ban the drinks, make a promise to yourself that you will nurse each drink for at least 30 minutes and that you will not let more than three drinks pass down your throat. That’s a promise you can stick to, for sure.

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Open your heart to shades of gray

The black-and-white trap of thinking is also very limiting. It makes you think of yourself as either someone successful or a loser. You are either worth something, or you’re worthless. The problem that arises has got to do with self-esteem. If you are feeling good, you might think too highly of yourself and have a gargantuan ego to match. And if you are in the doldrums, then your self-esteem takes a battering. With a thinking process like this, you tend to become judgmental too – labeling your friends, family and colleagues with the same “good” or “bad” definitions.

In turn, thinking like this makes you an anxious, somewhat depressed person who has low self-worth. A better way to deal with this is to expand your thoughts and open your mind and heart. You cannot just be good or bad. Everyone is a mixture of good and bad, and most of us are aiming to be more “good” and less “bad.”

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Step out of the black-and-white trap of thinking

Black-and-white thinking makes us prejudicial and makes us look at everything with a jaundiced eye. It literally closes the open doors in our lives and ruins personal and professional relationships when we are too busy measuring and labeling people to realize their worth.

This is also one of the main reasons we simply give up on something the moment we slip up on it. We become immersed in the need for a perfect outcome, forgetting that life often lies in the journey to a goal. All we need to remember is that life is negotiable – it always allows for U-turns!

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Rima Pundir

Health, Wellness & Productivity Writer

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Last Updated on November 15, 2019

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems, why?

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

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The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

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The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

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It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

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For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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