Heather Caspersen is a certified health coach with a bachelors in health promotion and management. She works for Family Resources of Greater Nebraska. Learn more about Heather here.
As we embark upon a New Year, one topic seems to trump all others when it comes to well being: The all mighty New Year's resolution.
But what is it that keeps many people from achieving those goals and often falling back into old habits?
Simply put, the lack of a healthy mind; one that sees endless possibilities and has proactive ways of handling thoughts, one that keeps us moving forward.
Here are four ways to help build the patterns that lead to a healthy mind. When your thoughts are placing energy into what CAN be, rather than what can NOT be, anything is possible.
Bring awareness to any fears or bad habits. Write them down and take a good hard look. Sometimes physically seeing them allows you to recognize that they do not define you but are rather just thoughts or actions that keep you from changing. As these fears come up, also write down what triggers them. Is it stress, boredom, fear of criticism, sadness or an unresolved resentment?
Now that you have a better understanding of what's holding you back, ask yourself, “What does this cost me?” One common “cost” I often see is a lack of self confidence. This can lead to poor relationships, job dissatisfaction and a decrease in the overall joy – all costs themselves.
When reflecting on our choices and habits, if we realize that they don't serve us in a positive way, our brain can accept that there may be a better way. At this point, commit to change by taking the following baby steps.
• Take one new positive habit or thought pattern that you want to work on, write it down and place it where you will see it daily – on your desk at work, the fridge, a bathroom mirror, etc.
• Enlist a friend, partner or family member to support you.
• Create a replacement habit to swap the action or thoughts that hold you back. Try reading, walking the dog, a hot bath, etc. I like to substitute, “I need to...” with “I have the opportunity to…”.
Focus on the benefits you've seen with your new and improved habits/changes. Then practice, practice, practice. If the urge to repeat old ways comes back, remember that familiarly (AKA fear of letting go) is likely at play. Quickly go to your replacement habit and be a consistent about it. This should be your new “go to” when something is triggered. More likely than not it has taken years, if not a lifetime, to develop your patterns. Be patient with yourself.
When a negative thought enters your brain, say “CANCEL” and replace it with a positive. View your fears as an opportunity for growth – as a catalyst for seeing what IS as oppose to what is NOT. You are a product of your own thoughts.
Need a starting point? Use this “Circle of Life” activity as a way to discover which areas of your life you are least satisfied in. You will have a clear visual of any imbalances and a starting point for determining where to spend more time and energy.