Knowing why we do what we do can unlock a human’s potential. It is a lifelong quest for many. These answers help us determine who we are.
This sense of knowing is purposeful and eventually can be very peaceful. This quest seems to accelerate as we move into and past middle age. Finding answers about who we are requires repetitious and serious introspection.
Here are a few guidelines.
Each of us had events, circumstances and/or conditions that impacted us in major ways from birth until we were five years old. These were formative years in our development. Our earliest experiences have had a major impact on the rest of our lives.
We could have been abandoned for only eight minutes in a supermarket. We had a feeling of loss, maybe even panic and terror… We were only five. This event can stay buried for a lifetime. The residue of feelings that occurred can be triggered in the future without knowing why.
We could have been badly misunderstood and consequently found ourselves on the other sides of yelling, berating or even physical abuse. All we wanted was a hug, a piece of candy or to go to the bathroom.
We had adults promise us they would take us somewhere…then they forgot. It seemed insignificant to them, but it was a big deal to us. We have cried ourselves to sleep at night because of disappointment, heartache, seeming abandonment, loneliness and a myriad of other feelings that were not positive. Of course, we have also gone to sleep with the opposite feelings- pleasure, happiness and contentment.
It is the negative feelings as children that are buried in the deepest confines of our mind. Like landmines buried beneath the surface, they remain in our lives as we enter adulthood. Some have even manifested themselves into our bad habits. How many landmines are under the surface waiting to be stepped on by a spouse, significant other, sibling, parent, associate or friend? How many times do we trigger them ourselves?
Without going back via hypnosis and understanding what happened to you as a child, become more aware of your negative ways. Make a checklist of habits that you would like to change. Do not concern yourself with why they developed for now. Just be aware.
Hopefully you have none of the following negative habits. No…picking your nose is NOT on the list (hopefully). Choose the habit(s) you want to eliminate.
1. Procrastination: You probably learned that you get into the Zone mindset if you wait until the last minute. This self-imposed stress results in a more narrow focus and sense of urgency. Here your best work can be done. You have also learned this method is exhaustive and doesn’t always work. Tired of being on the performance rollercoaster?
2. Tardiness: You are always in a rush. You are always in a hurry. You are late for everything. Your tardiness is legendary and has even evoked jokes like, "I bet she’ll be late for her own funeral.”
3. Jealousy: Someone looks at your "significant other” the wrong way and the green monster of jealousy rears its ugly head. You can feel the tightness in your chest at the thought of another person infringing on your territory. Your imagination is not your friend when this occurs.
4. Entitlement: Your sense of entitlement has head-on collisions with the reality that you may not get your way. "Refuse me? What’s that all about?” This infuriates you and many times sends you into a blind rage.
5. The Ostrich: At an early age you learned to hide under the pillow, under the bed or in a closet when you didn’t get your way. Maybe things will go away if I don’t see them or deal with them. In confrontations, you run and hide.
6. If I Don’t Get My Way, I’ll Make You Pay: This also stems from entitlement. You think to yourself, "Criticize me and I’ll punish you.” "I will refuse to eat.” "I will refuse to talk.” If you’re feeling amorous and maybe a little frisky but are rejected, you immediately go on an affection strike. "I’m going to punish you with a cold shoulder, no matter how amorous you may become. You’ll see how it feels.”
7. Swift Retaliation: This tit-for-tat confrontation typically results from being criticized. "If you hurt me, I’ll immediately hurt you.” "If you put me down, I’ll immediately put you down.” "I’m not the only one that’s late. Remember last week when you were late for our date night?” Retaliation is used to protect your fragile ego.
8. Sarcasm: Many of us wield sarcasm like a sword. "I’ll cut you with my sharp-tongued barbs so that you will back away and leave my fragile self alone.”
9. Ego Fountain: Like a fountain constantly spewing water into the air, an ego fountain sprays all of the positive things you are going to do but have not done yet. Bragging, boasting and creating a fictitious picture, not always based on reality, stems from this mentality. This is a definite sign of a lack of confidence and insecurity.
10. Indecisive: The inability to decide a course of action stems from a lack of confidence and positive self-esteem. "I just can’t make up my mind.” It is at this moment that we typically look for others to help with our decision-making. It is time to get decisive!
11. Can’t Say No: Always saying yes to the possibility of a meeting, future engagement, commitment or action originates from a strong desire to be liked. Then we spend ridiculous amounts of time backing out at the last minute.
12. Justification (The Need for Excuses): "I can’t make it tomorrow because…” or I’d love to go but…” This need to regurgitate every reason why you can’t make it, again, results out of your need to be liked. Most of the time a simple, "I can’t make it,” is enough. No reason is necessary.
13. Self-Put Down: This is the #1 defense mechanism of all of mankind. At an early age you learned to be mean to yourself so the people you love won’t be mean to you. “I’m such an idiot!” Self-sabotaging statements are a feeble attempt at trying to get someone in power to give you a hug or pat on the back.
14. Compliment Fishing: You steer the conversation toward something you are good at…casting your line into the water hoping to catch a compliment about the awesomeness of yourself. For example, "Well…enough about me, let’s talk about you. So…what do you think about me?”
15. Messiness: This originated as a form of rebellion to authority, discipline and order. For many of us, a messy room at age five results in a messy room at age 35. Don’t you think it’s time to have a little order in your life? If this is you, I bet you wouldn’t want to let people look in your closet, under your bed or in the backseat of your car.
16. Rearview Mirror: This one is learned from Mom and Dad. They always brought up your past and evaluated everything you did. Unfortunately, they brought up the same thing over and over again. Now, 25 years later, you’re doing the same thing to family, friends and your own children--constantly bringing up the past. It’s time to remove the rearview mirror!
17. Eating Too Fast: If you are part of a family of 10, you learned to eat fast before the food is gone. You may have also learned to eat fast so that you would be excused from the table more quickly. Whatever the reason, eating fast can make you put on extra pounds. It can cause indigestion. It can even make you oblivious to the other people in your dining party. Change this habit for sure.
18. Too much to smoke, drink or eat: Over-indulgence of any of these habits can cause a myriad of challenges. Avoiding or eliminating any or all of these is the focus of the champion.
19. Phone Tethered: Allowing your phone to control your thoughts is a bad habit. Feeling the need to constantly check your emails, texts or other social media intrusions will shorten your attention span.
20. Not a Closer: You are creative. You have a zillion great ideas. They are all strewn about your mind and a few even made their way to paper. However, the project never was completed. How many half-baked ideas are tucked away, unfinished in mental and physical cabinets and files? Before finishing one, you have begun another and then another. If this is you, it is time to finish what you start.
Which of the above bad habits are getting in your way of success?
Do the following to eliminate one or more on your personal list:
- To get one step closer to being your genuine, authentic best self, commit to making a positive change.
- Acknowledge that you possess a negative habit.
- Fix one negative habit at a time. Tackle the one that negatively impacts you the most in life, business or sports.
- Become aware in real time as the habit is revealed. Acknowledge it immediately once it is "tripped” before you embark on a negative action or reaction.
- Replace the negative habit with what you want. Envision this in finished state. Eliminate what you don’t want. Yes, I know you said you don’t want to be late. So now you must see being on time.
- Mentally state an affirmation directed to the negative habit as in “I’m on time” or “I eat slowly” or “I close.”
If you have any of the above negative habits, it has taken years to master them. How long will it take to bury and eventually replace them with positive healthy habits? I’ve seen it accomplished in 10 days. However, this timeframe will require mass quantities of repetition. Specifically, you must see the reverse of this behavior every night before you go to sleep (within 30-minutes) and when you awake in the morning (1st 10 minutes). For most of us, this amount of time is too much to invest. However, I encourage you to give this your best shot. You can do it! It is these landmines of negative habits that seem to always get in our way from accomplishing our goals and making our dreams come true.
Think like a champion in life, business or sports. Eliminate bad habits.