Every day, we create habits. Sometimes we know we’re doing it and sometimes we just do it naturally as we shift and evolve as a human interacting with the world around us. We create habits that make us feel good and occasionally we create habits that are detrimental to our well-being – physically, mentally or emotionally.
The new year is upon us. And with that comes new challenges, opportunities for growth and finding strength in ourselves when our hamster wheel brains tell us we’re just not good enough.
January can be a great time to set new goals, intentions and start fresh. It’s a time to change old habits and create new ones. With purpose. This year, however, I offer you the opportunity to take a look at some of the habits you might not be paying attention to – your emotional habits.
Google defines a “habit” as: a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.
I think we often think of these habits as physical. We want to change what we eat or how often we work out or what our morning routine consists of, but I believe that if we can use the power of creating positive habits and apply it to the way we react to ourselves our outside situations emotionally, we can begin to think differently.
Creating emotional habits takes patience, consistency and compassion.
The first step toward changing your emotional habits is to identifying the habit you’d like to change. Seems simple enough, right? For example, I have an emotional habit of worrying about what others think about me. I have already identified this as something I would like to change – to become more confident in myself, provide myself with my own value and put less pressure on myself to receive approval from those around me.
Once you’ve recognized the emotional habit, write it down.
2. Intention Setting
The second thing you want to go ahead and do is write down how you’d like to replace this emotional habit with intention setting. Take a moment and think about how you’d like to handle these situations moving forward. For me, it means being confident in what I say, how I act and what I believe in. If I am behaving in a way that is true to myself and honors my values, I will not question whether or not others approve of me.
What emotional habit would you like to take up?
The third step in these habitual changes is recognize when you’re doing it. The key to this step is to NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP. Did I make that clear? Recognizing when you’re feeding an emotional habit you don’t like and beating yourself up for feeding an emotional habit you don’t like are two very different things. And it’s important for the health of these changes to make sure you know that.
Recognizing your emotional habits is to simply acknowledge when you have reacted to a certain situation with the previously identified emotion.
Now that you’ve started to recognize each time said emotional habit comes up, it’s time to revisit your intention and instead of focusing on the way you reacted to a certain situation, focus on how you’d like to react in the future. And write about it. Or paint about it. Or sing about it. Whatever it looks like to you. Just repeat it to yourself.
For me, it means telling myself: “I define my value.” Even if you don’t believe it right then when you’re saying it, over time you will begin to ingrain this new way of emotionally responding and train yourself to acknowledge the positive instead of the negative. Which brings us to…
5. Patience and Compassion
Creating new emotional habits requires patience and compassion. Love yourself through the change. Love yourself for recognizing patterns you wish to change. And love yourself for being strong enough to stick with it. Don’t get wrapped up in the self-doubt. And if you have a moment where you do, just redirect that focus.
Don’t beat yourself up for it. Never beat yourself up for your challenges.