Have you ever tried to break a habit? At best, it is an awkward experience because we take ourselves off of “autopilot” and go into a “manual” mode. Things we didn’t think about … now we do. And when it comes to breaking bad habits, the bad habit can preoccupy our thinking. As a result of this heightened tension, our discomfort is more apparent to us.
Athletes learn to expect that performance may get worse before it gets better when they’re creating a new habit. Progress, not perfection, is the healthy standard of measure. Staying optimistic can be difficult in the midst of change. Remaining positive, however, is a matter of choice. Decide to stay upbeat and you will! You’ll also benefit by focusing on learning instead of “loss.”
Try the AAA Method: AAA = Awareness + Alternatives + Act on it!
Awareness, developing alternatives, and acting upon your better/best intentions (AAA) is preventive medicine for the sanity of the soul.
Habits are defined as acquired behaviors. The implication here is that if we acquire new habits, then we can also dispose of and replace bad ones. Now there’s hope!
It’s easy to imagine our life with the benefits of our new habits. Here are some examples:
- Smoking cessation brings savings of money; no smoky smelling breath, clothes, car, and home; and better health.
- Getting to a healthier weight resolves or mitigates a host of weight related conditions and diseases, such as Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Joints and backs with less weight are happier and less creaky.
- Centering prayer, meditation, or deep breathing can reduce stress and free the mind to think more clearly.
- Tracking your spending helps you plug wasteful expenditures and impulsive buys. You can increase your savings.
Envisioning new life is easy. Making it happen is not so easy! The underlying premise is that we’re capable of far more than we understand or we will push ourselves. That’s why so many people turn to coaches to assist them for accountability as well as training.
I’m a fan of the Discovery Channel series, Surviving the Cut. While each branch of the U.S. military is training its soldiers for different missions, one consistent theme comes across — these soldiers have very real probabilities of facing life and death situations in the field. They need to understand that they are far more capable than they know and understand. Learning to manage fear is part of their job. Rarely are the cadets in real danger. Therefore, to a large degree the mental challenges exceed the physical hardship.
Your self talk matters. If you identify yourself with words like failure, slob, worthless, insignificant, wasteful or stupid, then you’re pronouncing lies into your present and carrying them into your future. To what benefit is this? Now that you’re Aware — Stop!
Come up with a list of Alternatives for your identity: successful, neat, worthy, significant, thrifty, and smart.
Now Act on them. If you don’t act on them then they’ll never develop and be fully assimilated in your life. This is the essence of personal leadership — the ability to turn it around by yourself or by having the humility to get the help you need.
Purpose and Passion
Personal motivation — a compelling reason, a why, a purpose — combined with a willingness to pay the price — passion — defines the outcome. That said, extraordinary moments of truth emerge in the midst of the ordinary that test our purpose against our progress. Positive thoughts may get us started but will they sustain us? We choose!
No matter the outcome, you’re learning about you! Knowledge is powerful when put to good use, such as your self talk. So even if you don’t accomplish what you set out to do, you’re learning something new about yourself. Use your Awareness to develop an Alternative strategy that you Act upon (The AAA Method).
Moments of truth appear in our self talk: good and bad. Let’s not go down the self-deceptive path of mindless affirmations, positive talk, or positive mental attitude. Be real with yourself.
Get to the guts of the matter, the real inner conversation. The ones haunted by doubt, fear, anger, discouragement, disappointment, and hopelessness. Be equipped to choose to win which is why I encourage you to put the AAA Method to work when your self talk becomes self-defeating.
It is like there’s a debate team living inside you. Who will win? How’s your self talk coming along? Use the AAA Method to intervene on behalf of your new, better habit. You’ll be on-purpose and better for it.
Recommended Reading: Read Pat Pearson’s book STOP Self Sabotage. I like the way this lady thinks. She brings great depth to the topic. She’s a casual business acquaintance so I can personally say that I have respect for her work.