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8 Signs You’re Not Following Your Heart When You’re Living

8 Signs You’re Not Following Your Heart When You’re Living

If you want a happy, fulfilling, and enjoyable life, you have pick the path that makes your heart sing.

This may sound simple, but if you’re anything like I used to be, your mind is such a chatterbox about what ‘looks good’ or ‘opens the most doors’ or ‘looks good on paper’ that your mind drowns out the voice of your heart. You make choices based on what sounds reasonable instead of what you are passionate about. When you do this, you’ll find that one day you wake up and realize that, despite having a life that looks pretty successful, you are feeling rather numb inside.

Is this you? Here are 8 signs that you are not following your heart and need to start again.

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1. You have others make important decisions for you.

If you don’t know or don’t like what your heart is telling you, you designate someone else to make important decisions for you. Should I go on a second date with Ella? Should I go to law school or join this non-for-profit? This way you don’t need to deal with your heart at all and can always blame the other person if things go wrong. The only problem here is that you are no longer the master engineer of your life. In the end, it is far more fulfilling to make all of your own choices, ‘right’ or ‘wrong,’ and take whatever consequences come your way. That is what it means to be alive.

2. You are ‘succeeding,’ but feel…nothing.

You have worked for months to get that project, engagement, or club membership. But now that you have it, you don’t feel the wave of joy that you had predicted. You are on to the next project. This likely means one of two things: either your heart wasn’t in the project, or your inner do-a-holic took over. Regardless, take a minute to savor a project when you complete it. Ask yourself, “Does this make me happy? Why?” Give your heart a chance to share its opinion. And be okay with the answer if it’s, “I just am not that excited about it!”

3. You think in terms of pros and cons lists.

The mind loves to make lists. The heart does not: it just feels. So if you find yourself making or justifying a decision with a pros and cons list, consider that you have not consulted your heart. It’s okay to make these lists, but they have to be used in partnership with the ‘gut’ feeling from your heart.

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4. You are a chameleon.

You are proud of your ability to fit in anywhere and get along with anyone, which is a talent, for sure. But in masterfully adapting to new environments, you lose sight of who you are. Consider that if you fit in everywhere, maybe it’s time that you didn’t.

5. You have to drag yourself out of bed in the morning.

The old cliché is usually true. If you are not looking forward to what the day holds in store for you, then odds are that there is something blocking your heart from getting excited about it. This could be something as simple as an issue that needs to be resolved before your heart can sing again, or something as all-encompassing as the fact that your job is not the right one for you. Start to investigate. Ask your heart what you are dreading about your day, and take action.

6. You are always thinking about what you really want.

You are dating John, but thinking about Ted. You are working at a bank but wish you were advising in Washington. You need to figure out if these thoughts are a ‘grass is always greener’ mentality, or if these thoughts really are your heart trying to tell you that you need to make different choices. You can do this by taking three actions per week that investigate what you really want. Pay attention to your heart. If the more you learn, the more you want the new path, then your heart is likely telling you to make a change.

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7. You’re afraid to stand out.

You know what your heart is telling you to do (“Tell your boss that you have a great idea for the project!”), but you are afraid of being wrong, looking bad, or being rejected. So you zip up and don’t say anything. This may be a safe approach to life, but it sure won’t win you any awards for happiness. Consider that in order to follow your heart, you are going to have to stand out.

8. You are not using your natural passions.

You may be good at what you do, but being good at something doesn’t necessarily mean you are passionate about it. Think back on the 20 happiest moments of your life. What do they have in common? In there you will find your passions. Are those passions present in your current job? In your relationship?

The first step to finding your heart is to admit that you are not listening to it in a certain aspect of your life. Then you can get curious and start to give your heart the air time that it needs.

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Which points on this list describe you? Write me a note and share.

Featured photo credit: Happy kid is happy/Nicko Witjatmoko via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

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.

In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

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]

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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?

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.

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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.

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.

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Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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