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4 Reasons You Just Can’t Stick With A New Habit

4 Reasons You Just Can’t Stick With A New Habit

It’s that time of year. The January crowds are already out of the gyms, smokers are sneaking out for smoke breaks, and workaholics are powering through 12 hour days again. The enthusiasm of New Year’s resolutions fades away, and you can’t seem to stick with a new habit. Why does this happen? And, more importantly, what do you need to stop doing in order to form new, healthy habits?

1. You believe in “no pain, no gain.”

Many people swear by this old saying. And, while it may work like a charm for some folks, it actually discourages most people. We convince ourselves that we have to struggle and suffer in order to be who we want to be. The most common example of this is in the dieting world. For example, a woman will relentlessly tire herself out at the gym, hoping to fit into a smaller dress for an upcoming event. But, she creates such stress in doing this that all she wants to do is chow down on donuts. The change becomes something that she dreads, and the escape is that safe old habit of overeating. If you incorporate change in a negative, torturous way, it is simply human nature to give up on it.

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Lesson: Do everything you can to ensure a new habit is enjoyable and empowering.

2. You hold yourself to another’s standards.

Another classic and well-intentioned mistake: we try to emulate people we look up to when introducing new habits. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but if taken too far, it can sabotage you. For example, your brainiac coworker reads a new book every week. You decide that you want to be as well-read and intellectual as she is, so you try to force this same habit upon yourself. A week later, you fail to finish your first book, you don’t even like the book, and you feel like a failure. What went wrong? Basically, you failed at being another person. You tried to reach a goal through someone else’s process – what works for them. This invalidates any other techniques that may have worked for you. In addition, it places other people on a pedestal and tricks you into believing that external validation will fulfill you. While having a partner in change can help you stay motivated, don’t forget to do what actually works for you.

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Lesson: Don’t compete with others; compete with your old limitations.

3. You think mistakes are a reason to quit.

Any successful person will tell you they fail on a regular basis. Unfortunately, many of us see small setbacks as justification to quit, which blocks us from the actual work of habit formation. Instead of letting our brains and bodies move through the challenging process of change, we look at any mistake and use it as a reason to slip back into old habits and give up. However, mistakes are one of the most critical aspects of habit formation. They give us insight into why we do things (e.g. you realize that stress makes you avoid cleaning your house), while teaching us resilience and patience. In addition, mistakes desensitize us from the fear of failure – something that everyone must overcome to achieve great things.

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Lesson: Mistakes are part of the learning curve, and the learning curve lasts a lifetime.

4. Your identity is rooted in failure.

One of the most devious mental health issues that plagues humanity is a negative self-perception, which will quietly undermine any progress you make. We’ve heard dozens of stories about lottery winners who lost it all, squandering fortunes in a short period of time. And stories of those who lost hundreds of pounds, only to gain back even more once their diets ended. What is this odd phenomenon? Many people chalk it up to human stupidity or laziness, but it’s much deeper and more sophisticated than that. In these situations, we’re dealing with subconscious self-sabotage. Whether you obtain money, fame, fitness, or anything else, you can’t maintain it if your identity is rooted in its opposite.

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For example, if you hit the lottery but still possess a belief that poverty and scarcity surround you, your decisions will reflect that belief. You’ll be broke again in no time. The same goes for the guy or gal who loses 100 pounds – if they still view themselves as unhealthy, unmotivated junk food eaters at heart, that is what they will lapse back into.

Lesson: See yourself at your greatest potential – no matter your circumstances.

Keep these subtle adjustments in mind when aiming to stick with a new habit.

Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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