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Habits

By Karen Vally on 26 Mar 2014



The greatest benefit of life coaching is that it gives us an opportunity to examine our habits. My life coach recently gave me an interesting exercise. She asked me to write down my ten positive and ten negative characteristics. I then had to choose one characteristic, and for one week at a time, observe my behaviour. Observing the positive characteristics is easy, but when it comes to the negative ones, I find that, because I am ashamed of them, I try hard to eradicate them. For instance, instead of reacting impatiently as I sometimes used to do if I was in a hurry, I am trying hard to be more patient. By increasing my awareness, and learning how to self observe and self correct, life coaching has shown me how to be an active participant in my life, rather than a passive spectator.
 
What is a habit? It is an automatic action, that  is carried out on a regular basis. Good habits bring order into our lives. They include being disciplined, committed, organized, efficient, productive, creative, and effective. Most habits are formed by observing and imitating our parents as we grow up. Some come about as a result of our personalities, experience and education.Top achievers have developed habits that support their lives and enable them to reach their full potential.



Our brains are constantly on the lookout for patterns emerging in our lives that can be converted into habits. Unfortunately, our subconscious mind is unable to discern a good habit from a bad one, so anything that is repeated often, has the potential to develop into a habit. Fortunately, we are able to take charge of this process, and make a DELIBERATE DECISION which thoughts, actions and behaviours are to become habits. New neural pathways to replace the existing ones, can be created. In other words, new habits can be formed by repetition and practice, and, in addition, the link between the old trigger and response needs to be dismantled. For example, a person who overeats when feeling stressed, can decide to do go for a walk, listen to music or read a book instead of eating. Learning to recognize the "triggers" is crucial when we are trying to create a new habit.

 Visualisation is a powerful means of changing our habits. For instance, the person who tends to overeat when anxious, could visualise themselves looking slimmer. "Once you imagine something new for yourself, your mind will come up with creative ideas about how to make the image a reality." Meditation has also been found to enhance the formation of good habits.

Most of us dislike "being stuck". We desperately want something else, but cannot let go of the old - old thoughts, beliefs or behaviours.  Sometimes we’re aware that we are stuck; sometimes we aren’t. Taking action is the only way out. Change isn't always easy and it seldom happens overnight. But with time and effort, our bad habits can be remoulded.  



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