Habits we are unaware of might be keeping us stuck in our anxious state. If we have ‘bad’ habits that keep us stuck, we need to create new helpful habits, anchor them and use them to accelerate our journey to living anxiety-free – simples!!
I had no idea I had created a set of habits which were keeping me stuck in my anxious state.
I used them as both excuse and evidence to maintain the relative safety of staying in the familiar emotional state I had become so used to – regardless of how limiting or uncomfortable it was.
Negative self-talk, future-tripping, putting yourself down in front of others, not eating properly, not sleeping properly, relying on caffeine to get you through the day, having that extra glass of wine – all of these activities are habitual, and as such can be changed to habits which serve us in a much more positive way.
Anxiety… confidence… self-esteem… pessimism – these things are not ‘personality traits’. They are learnt behaviours. Behaviours and beliefs which have become so ingrained we give our personalities up to them.
Wowsers – that sounds awful! But actually, it’s amazing!!!!!
Think about it – if we learnt to be one way, we can learn to be another.
A habit is simply a set of behaviours or activities that we perform so often, we have given them over to our
sub-conscious mind to manage. It’s efficient and keeps our cortex free for more complex, creative and rational pursuits.
Imagine if you had to think about each action every time you changed gear in the car?
You’d soon get sick of that, right?!
Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit, identified three stages to the ‘anatomy’ of habits:
· The routine
· The cue
· The reward
So, I get up in the morning and go downstairs, the first thing I do is make a pot of tea – on autopilot.
The routine is getting out of bed, going downstairs and into the kitchen, filling the kettle and warming the pot.
The cue is waking up, probably tired and dehydrated, craving some caffeine and liquid!
Satisfying my caffeine craving, my need for something warm to drink and the comfort of familiarity.
If I had identified this as an unhelpful habit and wanted to change it (absolutely not btw!!),
the key lies in the reward and really understanding what it is.
Is it the caffeine? Is it the liquid? Is it the warmth? Is it just the familiar feeling of comfort?
Could something else give me these rewards? Something I identify as less ‘unhelpful’?
Well, you need to test it out…
How about substituting the normal tea for Matcha? A great caffeine substitute.
Green Tea? Hot lemon and water? The warmth without the caffeine…
How about a glass of cold water and sitting in your usual comfortable spot? The liquid and the comfort…
By testing what brings the greatest alternative reward, you can make a
helpful substitute and change your habit!
I guess it is ‘simple’ – maybe not easy though!
If you want to look into habits further, definitely check out Charles Duhigg and his books;
also Michelle Reeves’ The Happiness Habits Transformation is a great way to introduce lots of
helpful habits into your life.
First of all, you need to identify the habits which may be sabotaging your journey to living anxiety-free*.
Awareness is so important at this initial stage and for the coming stages when you need to recognise
when you are moving into the habitual behaviour.
Do you find yourself constantly negatively forecasting the future, which inhibits your ability
to enjoy the present?
Take this habit through the above test.
I know, it feels weird – what reward can you possibly get from negative forecasting?
Well, there must be a reward.
I’ve talked before about how there is always a perceived benefit to maintaining a current mental state –
otherwise, we would let it go.
So, grab your journal and dig into it!
Does it make you feel prepared? Safe? Familiar? Whatever it is – find it – it’s the key to changing
the habit and removing your blocks.
Then brainstorm other ways you could get this feeling.
How about if you spent 10 minutes emptying all the possible negative outcomes out of your head into your journal. Create a plan for each, then draw a line under it and close it.
Could that make you feel prepared?
How about if you confided in a friend or loved one – could that make you feel safe?
Next comes the ‘cue’.
Recognising when you’re about to move into the behaviour you want to change,
means you can adopt the new ‘routine’ you created above, side-step the unhelpful habit
and get your reward elsewhere!
Even if you don’t catch yourself before you begin, you can step in at any time with your new routine.
The more you do it, the easier it becomes – until it becomes a habit!
I had a habit of assuming that even the slightest feeling of nerves/butterflies would ALWAYS lead to a
full-blown panic attack and potentially a blackout.
This was completely automatic – in my head in was 0-60mph in one second!
My reward (no matter how screwed up – no judgement!) was that I knew where this was going –
I felt a kind of fatalistic awareness and control.
So, I changed my ‘routine’.
I created a new habit and anchored it to the cue.
As soon as I start to feel nervous (the cue) – even a teensy bit – I review it on my Bliss-o-Meter!
I give it a number. Then focus on moving it up to the next number – not jumping three or four.
Just one. This is my new routine.
This allows me to maintain a much more positive sense of awareness and control – which are my much
more helpful and obvious rewards.
I hope that helps you understand a little more about habits – unhelpful and otherwise!
I’d love to hear your thoughts about your habits and how they might be holding you back.
Drop me a line and let’s jump on a call – especially if you want to know more about my Bliss-o-Meter –
Or jump into our Facebook Group and join the conversation there.
Hi there, my name’s Kathryn and I’m an Anxiety Release Coach at My Chakra Life.
My mission is to help open-minded professional women who want to transform their relationship with anxiety so they can fall back in love with their work and life.
Over the last ten years, I have honed and tweaked the tools and techniques which worked for me, into my three-stage Anxiety Release Process:
Why not join us in our Facebook Group – our community for creative, professional women learning to live anxiety-free, reconnect with their inner-selves, and shine in their career or business with conscious, calm, confidence.
Or you can download my guide: ‘Journal your way to CONSCIOUS, CALM, CONFIDENT‘ to give you a little ‘Consciousness Jumpstart’!