Overcoming Negative Behavior Patterns

What happens after you’ve tried a new productivity routine for a few hours, a day, or even a week only to then find yourself seemingly right back where you started? Do you give up? Or try once more with renewed determination to make the habit stick?

Falling back into patterns and behaviors you thought you’d worked to overcome doesn’t mean you’ve lost all your progress.

If you become afraid of any “slip” in your behavior, you can end up paranoid about falling back into old habit patterns. The way to bypass fear of failure is to give yourself permission to take life moment by moment.

By ‘checking in’ on your habit every day, you’ll be more aware of any changes and less likely to slip up.

Don’t let falling back into old habits and thinking patterns derail your desire to move forward and change. It’s easy to stop running forward when you’ve “failed” at whatever it is that you’re trying to improve.

But you haven’t failed. You caught yourself. Now, focus on the next step and keep going. Today you aren’t the same person as yesterday. Small changes slowly equal significant changes over time when you keep moving. So, stop worrying about the “failure” and focus on what’s next while taking the next step.

Pay attention to subtle behaviors that suggest a return to old ways. It could be flirting with danger, like the ex-smoker joining coworkers for their smoke breaks, saying he “just needs some air.” Or we might start skipping behaviors that keep us well, like finding excuses not to go to AA meetings. These actions might not announce a full-blown return to the wrong track, but they’re warning signs.

Coach yourself. In a journal, ask yourself “why” repeatedly. For example, ask, “Why do I feel ‘off’ today?” Once you’ve responded, ask yourself “why” again. Repeat this exercise a few more times and you’ll likely get to the root of what’s bothering you.

Be honest and ask yourself whether holding on to this pattern of behavior and engaging in this cycle is serving you? Are you a better human being because of it or does it deplete and chip away at you?

As you uncover those triggers and patterns of behavior, you can begin to unlearn the things that hold you back. Keep in mind, if you can learn to engage in unhealthy patterns, then you can unlearn them too. It is never too late for you. Healing is possible.

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