As we continue down the road of becoming more aware of our intrinsic value and worth, there are new attitudes and behaviors that will begin to emerge. You may recognize that you really do have strong feelings or opinions about things; you may recognize that you feel more capable and more positively about yourself. You may feel that you want to be seen and heard more; that you no longer feel content to stay hidden in the shadows, or that you really can share the spotlight with others. These new positive feelings about yourself may start as just an inner tingle in the pit of you stomach, or as a fleeting thought through your mind. Whatever your awareness is of this shift, you now have the opportunity to turn this awareness into actions that demonstrate your true worth. Thinking and feeling by themselves won’t move us forward, they just light the fuse. We need to make sure we connect the fuse to new behaviors. What is your fuse attached to? What is your desired outcome? As you start to feel better about yourself, you can see new possibilities for your work, your relationships, your life. This is the motivation for new behaviors. This is where a deep breath is essential because you are going to challenge, head on, years of habits and beliefs that have kept you stuck. Changing your behaviors is not just challenging for you, but it may also prove to be a bit disconcerting for the people closest to you. Be aware, that just as you have gotten used to behaving a certain way, the people in your life have come to know and expect these attitudes and behaviors as well. If you have spent most of your life “going along” with whatever anyone else wants, and now you realize that you can speak up and express your opinions, this will cause some upheaval. If, on the other hand, you’ve been demanding and rigid, and now you realize that there’s room for everyone’s thoughts and desires, you may be met with mistrust and disbelief. How you choose to respond to the various reactions to your new behaviors will make all the difference to you going forward. First and foremost, you have to STOP! BREATHE! FOCUS! What is your desired outcome? In order to engage in and truly maintain any new behavior, you must have clarity of purpose. Without this clarity, it is too easy to slip back into old habits because they require no thought or effort; that’s what makes them habits. A new behavior needs your attention, focused energy, and your belief that it is for your greater good to engage in this new behavior.
Here’s where the first challenges emerge: Your thoughts! Yes, unfortunately, it is you, yourself who set up the first challenges because, as creatures of habit, we do what feels most familiar/easiest, even if it isn’t the best or most productive for our lives. Let’s say, for example, that you decided to begin speaking up for yourself after years of “just going along to keep the peace”. Can you feel your inner turmoil? What are the questions or beliefs that pop into your head? They may run along the lines of: “What am I doing? Everyone will be mad at me! Is this really the ’right’ thing for me to do? What if they reject me, or laugh at me? What if this isn’t really me? What if I’m really supposed to just go along?” Do these questions and thoughts sound familiar? What if you realize that in the past you have been demanding and rigid, and now want to make room for other people’s needs and feelings? Maybe your thoughts and questions will run along the lines of: “Now I’ll seem like a wimp. No one will respect me. They’ll think I’ve gone soft, or what if now, no one takes me seriously?“ This is only the first part of what makes it hard to turn new behaviors into habits. The second part is other people’s actual reactions to your new-found behaviors. What do you do when the people closest to you question and challenge you? How do you stay connected to your greater good, and your desired outcome? Unless you stay strongly connected to your desired outcome, and your new beliefs in yourself that “who you are is enough!”, and all that that statement entails, you’ll find yourself falling back into old habits.
Today, I want you to choose one behavior that you believe you need or want to incorporate into your life to reinforce the belief “Who I Am Is Enough”. Is it speaking up, being less defensive, being more generous, being more relaxed, etc. Just choose one behavior that reflects your more positive sense of yourself.
Follow the next 5 steps over the course of the next 28 days (remember, it takes 28 days to make this new behavior a habit.)
1. STOP! BREATHE! FOCUS! This has to be the first step, so that you give yourself the space in which to become conscious and aware of your feelings and the need for accessing and practicing your new behavior.
2. What is My Desired Outcome? This is to remind yourself of your clarity of purpose. Your behavior is NOT about other people and their reactions to you. Your behavior is about your greater good, and your positive belief in yourself that “who I am is enough, and I deserve to be treated as such, first and foremost by me, myself!”
3. Be aware of and breathe through your inner turmoil. Inner turmoil, when you’re behaving in a new way, simply reflects a change in yourself, it does NOT mean what you are doing is wrong! It means your system is reacting with confusion and uncertainty. Whenever we do something differently, the first reaction we have is that it is “wrong”, and the thought pops into our heads that we are supposed to do what we’ve always done, even if what we’ve always done was unhealthy and emotionally harmful. So this step is about sitting with the conflict and NOT acting on it.
4. Write down your feelings after each time you engaged in your new behavior (or were unable to do so). This step will help you to reinforce your awareness and your learning. This step will help to give you clarity as to what you did that worked, and what needs more attention. It is about increasing your awareness, and what thoughts and beliefs encourage your new behaviors and which ones undermine you. This step is not about beating yourself up, but about learning and growing.
5. Take your time and be patient with yourself. New behaviors require patience, perseverance and even more practice, in order to become habits. Life offers up many opportunities to utilize our new awareness and practice our new behaviors. Remember, you are focusing on one behavior that feels most significant to you in your overall growth and change. Even if, in the moment, you forgot to practice your new behavior, trust that you will have another chance. This is all about evolving and growing, not instant perfection.
Take heart, and know that you, above all else, are worth your time, energy and love, and that you are engaged in this process of reclaiming your self-esteem for your greater good, and the greater good of your life!
Join me on Wed. February 6 for our FREE Teleseminar program on Mindfulness: For Your Well-Being and get started (or enhance) your care for yourself. Lani Muelrath will be our guest as we explore ‘living healthy, happy and fit’! Looking forward to your questions and comments!