Post 020: Are old habits holding you back? A tactic for spotting them

I made a rookie error a few weeks ago at work. You know what it’s like when you are busy. Sometimes, it’s difficult to keep all the plates spinning and before you know it, some of them fall out of your attention and crash to the floor. I had neglected some of my important actions thinking that I didn’t have the time to focus on them. My meditation time became non-existent, I didn’t keep my classroom tidy like I had promised myself, and I haven’t written a blog post in weeks. Simply put, I had fallen into old habits. Another word for habit is programme and I prefer this because it cuts to the core of what is happening. I was not consciously making choices, I had become a robot following the engrained habits that I had fallen back on in the past.

These choices were not serving me well at all. One wake up call was when my boss called me out on the state of my desk. At first I was defensive and dismissive of the importance of a tidy desk. He didn’t understand how much I had on my plate. He could have cut me a bit of slack. However, driving home that night, I realised the truth. He was right. I was running a programme that allowed me to ignore the mess and pretend it didn’t matter. That desk represented my internal state-a big mess that needed sorting out. 

I try to meditate for 10 minutes when I have put my boy down to sleep for the night. I lay on his floor, the lights are out and he is peacefully sleeping so it’s a great time to reflect on things undisturbed. I asked myself this question: What is that messy desk trying to say to me? Where is this behaviour coming from? I then saw that this pattern was showing up in other areas as well. They all had a common theme of stopping me from taking action on my goals. I would become so engrossed in sorting out the mess in my mind, that I was not able to get clear and get decisive. That was the moment when the importance of the desk became clear. I had lots of  crap that I had to let go of. I was holding onto the mess out of fear.

Another wake up call was a meeting with my mentor. He asked what I had been doing to maintain and improve on my state since the birth of my daughter. I tried to come up with some things that I had half heartedly done, but had to admit in the end, that I had no been looking after myself mentally as well as I should have. This was when it hit me. In times of stress and big change, we need to look after ourselves the most. This is the times in life when all the positive rituals we are trying to develop really pay off. I had allowed my old behaviours to stunt my development because I had been asleep with my eyes open. I had started to procrastinate on my exercise, positive eating habits, writing and career development. I started telling myself that I didn’t have the time to do the things that would have served me so well. This was a lesson well learned. It hurt to realise that I had neglected myself, and in turn, dropped off in my performance in work. However it is empowering to know that just as quickly as you can fall, you can also rise. I have re-committed to all my goals for the year and I am thankful for the feedback I recieved from my boss. It reminded me that I’m in control of my own destiny, and I have to accept 100% responsibility for all results that I get.

Here are some tactics you could employ to ensure that you are not letting old habits run your life for you.

1. Accept 100% responsibility for all results you are currently getting. Good or bad.

Once we accept responsibility, we can see the steps needed to get back on track. If you need help with this, ask someone for honest feedback and act on the useful comments you are given.

2. Make time for the important things in your life.

Don;t kid yourself that you don’t have enough time. We all get the same 24 hours in a day and although we may have different circumstances, our choices are the biggest determinant of the success we will have on any given day. I know that I must make time to meditate, even if it’s for a couple of minutes a day. It is the aspect of my character that needs to develop the most, therefore it is a priority that I give it my full attention.

3. Be aware throughout the day.

Check in with yourself throughout the day and check your state of mind. A nice way to do this is simply to close your eyes for a few minutes and allow your focus to go inwards. Try to become very aware of your breathing and any feelings you have in your body. You will find that with practice, this gives you enough mental space to tap into how you are feeling and break any habit that is running if you so choose.

4. Be wary of history repeating itself.

If there is a behaviour that you have tried to stop that keeps re-surging, then some more internal work needs to be done. History will repeat itself until your sub-conscious and conscious mind are on the same page. There have been times in my life where I have said I want one thing, but then acted in a way completely opposite to what I claimed to have wanted. This is a clear case of a divided mind. You have to go deep to the root of the behaviour and ask yourself, what am I getting from not giving this up? The deeper you go with a response, the more success you will have with changing the behaviour.

Learning from these lessons will inevitably lead to growth and success. I can’t wait to get back to my desk bin bag in hand to finally get rid of all that rubbish and clear my space physically, mentally and emotionally.

I wish you the best.

6 thoughts on “Post 020: Are old habits holding you back? A tactic for spotting them

  1. Wow, this post is really what I needed. We usually tend to run on auto-pilot mode, when we do or say things without really thinking. And new habits that are we trying to develop, the good ones, are left behind. We are the gardeners of our inner garden, of mind and soul. If we don’t tend it, either it’s gonna grow wild or die. Only we have a power to make ourselves better, happier! 🙂

    • I totally agree. My mentor has been helping me to see the massive importance of managing our internal state. I have been working hard to try and become more proactive in life and not allowing events to then dictate my reactions and moods. As you say, the responsibility is with us to cultivate and protect our internal worlds. I’m glad you took so much from the post. It makes sharing my experiences all the more worth while. What strategies do you use to look after your state?

      • To sum it up: Buddhism and positive attitude. Meditation, loving-kindness, trying to calm my mind and be practical when problem arises. One of the biggest issues is determining which problem can be solved (a real problem) and which is just an inconvenience that we need to overcome, mostly our attitude towards that situation, thing etc. To keep my mind calm, one of the best quotes is: “This too shall pass”.

    • You are right. It is the self awareness that helps us to recognise our patterns and change them when neccesary. I find trying to check in daily is a very powerful tool that helps me to direct my day in the way I want to rather than being at the mercy of circumstances and the wishes of others. My mentor has been a massive factor in my personal growth and development. Thanks for taking the time to comment on the post. I really appreciate it.

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