Hello and welcome to my new blog called “Habits cause Have Its.”
I hope you will join me on this journey as we explore the many ways in which our habits – those things we do repeatedly – contribute so much to what happens in our lives. As some of you may know I have been writing another blog each week for the past three years and if you’re interested in subscribing to that blog, or even in just checking it out, please click here.
My fascination with habits, and the role they play in our lives, came to me as I met more and more people over the past few years who have profoundly, and radically, successfully implemented massive changes in their lives and in so doing have often had to endure inordinate amounts of pain in order to move from where they were to where they are today.
As I met with and, in some instances worked with, these wonderful people I learned of the very many different strategies they adopted in order to bring about these enormous transformations.
Many of these folks had to overcome enormous adversity and chose to do so frequently in the face of massive odds against their success.
And while their strategies varied in so many different ways the one thing that united all of them, the one constant that shone through all of their journeys, was that each and every one of them, in order to re-sculpt their lives, quit old habits, and adopted new ones that they relentlessly stayed with, day after day and that, in most cases, are still in place today.
And so I began to ponder the possibility of writing a blog about the power of habit. The name “Habits cause Have Its,” came to me when I realized that almost everything we have has come to us by virtue of certain behaviors that we repeat over and over again, sadly, very often, to our detriment.
And so today, in honour of this, my first blog on this topic, I would like to focus on the incredible power that comes to us through the habit of affirmation.
In my day job as a coach, trainer and speaker I have met countless people who have shared with me some of their own challenges that have resulted from the constant, repeated negative messages that they have been feeding themselves from as far back as they can remember.
I wish I could say that I cannot relate to their experiences but unfortunately I can because I too, like so many of us, have spent many, many years berating, criticizing, doubting and attacking myself, and generally practicing every known form of self-denigration.
Everything we believe to be true is always true – for us – and many of us, through our well-honed habit of regular, intense critical self-talk have come to acquire many damaging beliefs about ourselves that have no basis in fact.
I believe we acquired this habit very early in childhood, perhaps beginning with some event that caused us to believe that we were not good enough, or not smart enough, or athletic enough or good looking enough or not … (fill in the blank) enough.
And as we grew into adulthood we continued practicing this habit of reminding ourselves of our shortcomings, telling ourselves all of these negative and punitive things until we came to believe them to be true. And not only did we continue to do this, but we became extremely good at it. In fact we became world-class in beating ourselves up. We got to the point where we were so good that we did this with all the competence and skill that can only come from years and years of dedicated practice and commitment.
And for many of us we have reached a stage where we realize that this isn’t working for us and we want a different life, with different results, for ourselves.
In my book, “Life Sinks or Soars, the Choice is Yours”, I used a metaphor to ask an extremely powerful question.
The book is narrated by Earl, a middle-aged man facing many of life’s challenges. He calls upon his lifelong friend Hugh, a man who has enjoyed success in all areas of his life, and asks for help.
Hugh agrees to spend a few days with Earl and, for Earl, this is a life-changing experience.
At one point they are talking about negative self-talk, the habit of repeatedly affirming to ourselves everything that is “wrong” with us. Let’s listen in on their conversation
Hugh says, “Let’s assume for a moment that you have a belief about yourself that you will never amount to anything.
“And let’s say that you have had that belief for as long as you can remember and that you have been telling yourself this for many years.
“Now let’s pretend for a moment that every time, from a very early age, that each time, instead of telling yourself that you will never amount to anything, you had picked up a 10 pound dumbbell and done 10 bicep curls with your left arm.
“How well developed would your left arm be now?”
Earl, “Extremely well developed,”
“And your right arm,” Hugh inquired?
“Pitiful,” Earl said sheepishly, “kind of like how it is now.”
I think so many of us can relate.
Far too many of us have spent much too much time “working out and developing our left arms.”
This is a habit we must change.
And yes, there is a way of making this change. We do so by replacing that mean, miserable old habit with a new and exciting one.
I know of only one way of doing this successfully.
And it’s hard work.
And it takes a while.
And it is something we have to keep doing until…
Here’s what you do. Make a list of things that you would like to believe to be true of yourself.
There are a few very important things to remember about your list.
- It does not have to be a long list. There is no maximum number of items for your list. There is, however, a minimum number and that number is One.
- You do not need to believe a single word on that list. This is a list of what you would like to believe to be true of yourself. You may not believe a word of it today. That doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you create a list.
- Your list is a living document which will continually evolve. This means you are free to add, delete or edit in any way you choose as you work to redefine who you truly are.
You are now ready to begin. Remember the dumbbell metaphor? You are now going to start “training your right arm.”
All new habits begin with doing something for the first time.
Pick a start date (today’s a great day to start) and read your list over and over again for five to 10 minutes. Plan to do this up to four times a day.
Now remember, it’s not that read your list, it’s how you read your list.
Bring life to your list. Read every word as if it were an irrefutable fact. Congruency is key here. Sit or stand as if you believe every sentence to be absolutely the truth and say each word with as much passion as you can muster.
And when you have finished, do it again. And again.
When you begin this exercise you may feel silly. Many people have told me they feel foolish because they are saying words they don’t believe to be true.
None of that matters. What matters is that you continually do this.
Remember you are dealing with a formidable foe. Your “left arm” is not going to sit passively by while you work on strengthening your right arm. The silliness you may feel is simply from the resistance your “left arm” is putting up.
It’s almost definitely saying to you, “Hey, what the hell do you think you’re doing? You’re wasting your time. This ain’t gonna work. This is my domain, get out.”
And you need to keep going. You need to do this as many times as possible and you need to really focus on being congruent. Be as loud and energetic, and passionate as possible.
There may well be times when you just don’t feel like doing this. Do it!
This is something you need to do when you are tired, exhausted, drained, feeling down. You must do this when you feel it is an absolute waste of time and you must do this when you would rather be doing anything else in the world.
Remember this: if you choose not to do this or choose to stop doing this, the “other side” will continue as it has for many years. The only way to silence that voice is to smother it with positive affirmation.
And if there are times when you really feel like quitting this silly exercise, please pause and ask yourself this question, “Am I worth it?”
The answer must, of course, be a resounding “YES.”
Allow me to issue a challenge to you. This is a challenge I have placed before hundreds of people over the last few years. Most have chosen to decline the challenge, some have chosen to accept the challenge and then decided not to stick with it, and a few have jumped upon the challenge and ridden it all the way.
I call it my 30 Day Challenge.
And it works like this.
Make an irrevocable commitment to yourself that you will adopt this process for the next 30 days.
Remember, this commitment to yourself means that you will follow through on your promise to spend 5 to 10 minutes affirming your greatness to yourself a minimum of four times each day.
At the end of each day, after your fourth round of affirmations, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and simply put the word “Done” in the subject line. Alternatively, you can text me at (403) 862 5019 with the word “Done.”
Please, for your sake, if you accept this challenge and send that first email/text, please, please, please continue with the challenge until day 30.
I promise you this much: if you do this, within 30 days your life will change. Next week I will share with you the stories of a few people I know who accepted, and met, this challenge.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.
P.S. Thank you for reading this, the first posting on my new blog. If you enjoyed reading this piece and would like to subscribe, please click here.
P.P.S. If you have any thoughts on this blog, or ideas for future ones, please send me an email at email@example.com or click on the comment button. Thank you.