When I was a kid in elementary school, I was bullied for a few years. I think it lasted only a year or two but the effect that had on me as a sensitive child formed how I would respond to certain things my entire life.
Fast-forward thirty-some odd years and I was about to start my first business. I would have to shine a spotlight on myself and that triggered a lot of beliefs of what would happen when I did that. The last thing I wanted to do was call attention to me!
I knew the only way out of it was to change the thoughts rolling around my head.
We can’t make lasting change in our lives without first making a decision and committing to it.
Otherwise, despite leaving the environment we don’t like, we soon find ourselves right back there again or in a similar one.
The key is to change our behaviour or belief that is causing us to be triggered in the first place.
Turns out, easier said than done. Interrupting those old stories we tell is difficult.
The good news is with effort you can always change it.
A belief is just a thought you keep thinking. A behaviour is just an action you keep taking.
Both were learned and so, both can be unlearned and replaced with a better one.
Whether it is as simple as starting a morning meditation practice, an exercise routine or preventing yourself from sabotaging new career opportunities or romantic relationships coming your way, you have to be vigilant about the stories rising up that get in your way.
Do not expect to be successful the first time out. Behavioural change takes effort and time and calling yourself a failure at the start does nothing to help you set up this new life you are after.
Seriously, you have years practicing this sabotaging belief or bad habit. It will take more than a few consistent tries and a lot of effort to rid yourself of the old one and get a new one to stick. So exercise a little self-compassion. It’s a process!
The key is to catch yourself in the midst of your story or limiting belief and stop it in its tracks.
Here are 5 practical and effective ways to do it that really work. Both my clients and I have used these with great success. Have a look:
- Observe yourself. Be aware of how you respond to what is showing up for you. See yourself as a third party who has no attachment to the emotions and thoughts that pass through your mind. Let them pass in and out without holding on to them as if they’re clouds in the sky moving overhead. Side note: this is an easy way to practicing releasing your attachment to the outcome of something. It’s an easy entry point.
- Snap out of it. It is the old rubber band trick. Put a rubber band on your wrist and when you, for example, notice you are engaging in negative self-talk, snap it. The goal is to do it while you are in the middle of the thought and it brings you back to the present moment immediately. I have had clients who swear by it and I’ve seen their changed behaviour to prove it.
- Recognize patterns. No matter what it is you are trying to change, consciously notice how often and in what circumstances this belief or behaviour shows up in your life. If you know when to expect it, you can plan how you will deal with it when it inevitably shows up.
- Shout “No”. I have done this to change so many behaviours in my life. It’s my personal go-to. Notice when you are in that negativity or telling yourself the old story. As soon as you notice, shout NO out loud. Stops it in its tracks! Pro-tip: this has to be done out loud. It is so much more effective that way. It commands a different level of your attention.
- Divert your attention. It doesn’t get simpler than this. Place your focus on something and that is where your energy goes. When you notice you are in that old belief stop what you are doing and pick up something that will take your mind off it. It works best when it is something you have to do physically where your mind must be engaged. So, for example, exercise isn’t a good option for this tool because your mind can easily wander. I had a client who used woodworking which was perfect for him: he had to be in the moment doing the work to get the right measurements, make the right cuts. But I’d suggest something that is a little easier to do when you are on the go. Come up with a list of things; compile your own toolkit. A few tips to make this work for you…
Do not think that each of these is a “one-and-done” approach to changing your belief system!
It may take dozens of times of doing any one of these before you will see a difference.
The payoff comes when you finally start to see the difference in your behaviour. You will want to continue it because it is so effective and gets easier the more you use it.
The worst thing you could do is give up because things aren’t changing fast enough for you.
The ability to change anything in your life lies completely in your hands.
Make how you show up in this world worthy of who you want to be.
Now pull up your big girl/big boy conscious-creator pants and commit to being a happier you!