What Are Your Core Beliefs?

Instead of a Tips page this month, I thought we could take a look at our core beliefs – those thoughts and assumptions we hold about ourselves, others, and the world around us. Although they often go unrecognized, they have a profound effect upon our lives.

Common examples of core beliefs are as follows:

  • I am unattractive
  • Everyone else has a better position in life than me
  • The world is full of selfish people who only want for themselves
  • I’ll never matter

Our lives are dictated by such inner beliefs and, most often, these beliefs are not accurate. Thinking you’re unattractive will have a profound effect upon your self-confidence and esteem. If you believe everyone else is better positioned than you, you will likely feel small and insignificant. If the world only takes and never gives, then you’re reduced to cynicism and negativity and locked in a dark prism.
Core beliefs affect what you achieve and how you operate in the world as a whole. Negative self-beliefs will limit you and limit your effectiveness in your life and in your world.

Core Identity
The one thing that can be consistent for us in life is our core identity. This is a foundation that can set us free: this isn’t linked to any opinions, beliefs, theories, attitudes or behaviors. When we become grounded in the truth of who we are in life, we become free to be ourselves. The most meaningful vision we can have for our futures, which will motivate and inspire us to progress in life, is our vision of who we are going to become.

So, here’s your mission for the month:
Without referencing anything you’ve achieved or failed at, what you do for a living, what your roles are in life or what you have – define WHO you are.

Who are you? What are the core principles, values and elements that make you, you?

I’d love to hear from you on this topic.

If you want to make a comment about beliefs or how you’ve changed your beliefs to become more of who you really want to be, let me know via my Facebook Business Page at For the Health of It – Nurit Amichai Mind-Body Trainer

Changing Your Beliefs

One of the most effective and popular ways of changing beliefs is done through meditation and guided meditation. Reconstructing a situation in our minds with a favorable outcome then rehearsing it daily will eventually recreate the situation in a positive light.

Another way is to change what you believe through experience-taking.
I’d like to share a personal story here that illustrates this point.

I had a poor perception of myself for many years. Even though I appeared confident and self-assured, inside I was the opposite. I learned how to carry myself in order to present a good appearance, but my thought life and belief system were both in shambles.

When I was in my late forties, I decided to take a huge risk and enter a body building competition. When I made the decision, my body was far from competition material which meant I had a lot of work to do. But I made a commitment to myself to follow through, regardless the cost. Seven months later I stood on the stage of the Northern Regional Body Building Competition in British Columbia and placed second in my category. I was elated and speechless. It was the last thing I expected.

Yet that competition and the one following a month later, changed me forever. I no longer held the belief that I was too old, would never have the kind of body that was needed, couldn’t do it and myriad other beliefs. What those beliefs were replaced with was this:

I can do anything I determine I want to do provided I’m willing to put in the work.

What experience can you create that will impact your beliefs and turn your self-defeating beliefs into strengths that conquer?

Our beliefs are the underpinning of the way we do life.

be·lief

/bəˈlēf/

noun

plural noun: beliefs

  1.  an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.
    “his belief in the value of hard work”
  1.  trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something.
    “a belief in democratic politics”

Please take a minute to read the definition of the word “belief” and note that the onus is on the individual to determine the veracity of the definition.  There are some things that are true regardless of what I believe about them – and there are other things that are true for me because of what I believe, not necessarily because it’s factual. This, by the way, is also applicable to you.

What Do You Believe?
We’ll be taking a closer look at beliefs – what they are, how they become beliefs, and how to change beliefs that are either untrue for you or inhibiting your life somehow.

Does Everyone Believe That?
The first, and perhaps the most crucial, elements of culture are values and beliefs, beliefs being the tenets or convictions that people hold to be true. Although individuals in a society have their own specific beliefs, they also share collective values and beliefs that hold them together as a group.
Consequently, we have large groups of individuals who believe the same things, whether they be religious, cultural, intellectual, organizational, or otherwise. Within the specific group there are foundational beliefs upon which they build their culture, something that holds them true to their goals.
On an individual basis we do the same thing. We have beliefs that undergird our lives, “truths” we have held since the beginning of our memory. Some of this information is really truth, while some of it is perception, words we’ve heard spoken, or convictions we’ve embraced based on actions of others toward us.
Let’s take a look to see if and/or how they’ve been working for us.

What Are Beliefs, Anyway?
As I posted at the beginning of this newsletter, there’s a dictionary definition which does form the outline for most elaborated-upon interpretations of the word, belief. However, that’s not exactly what I want to get to here.
In very simple terms, beliefs are really only ideas that are transmitted by word or deed reinforced by being repeated over and over again until they become “true” in the life of the individual.
These reinforced ideas may be simply unhelpful. They are not unchangeable nor are they cast in stone.
All beliefs are limiting by nature because we’re all limited by our own experiences and perceptions.

Pavlov and Conditioned Response
We’ve all heard of Pavlov’s dogs and his theory of classical conditioning, which is a type of learning in which an existing involuntary reflex response is associated with a new stimulus. Through repetition, the dogs were conditioned to eat at the sound of a whistle. Eventually, because the dogs believed they would be fed when the whistle sounded, when it was blown the dogs began to salivate. They did so whether there was food or not. This is a conditioned response.
Some of our beliefs are simply conditioned responses to various stimuli presented to us in our growing up years.
For example, experimentation has proven that fear is learned. It is not intrinsic, that is, we’re not born with it. If we can learn, then we can unlearn.

And, You’re Point Is?
My point is that maybe some of what we hold as beliefs are really only either conditioned or operant responses. Operant Conditioning is the reinforcement of behaviors through either positive or negative consequences.
So, if I’m a six-year-old and I take a candy from the local store and get caught by the store owner, the way that event is handled will have a large impact upon what I believe about myself. If I’m told I’m bad, can’t be trusted, and a thief then I will likely take that under consideration, mull it over repeatedly, and begin to think of myself in those terms. Is it true? Am I bad? Am I not to be trusted? Am I a thief? Probably not at all. But the root of the belief is sown.

What About Limiting Beliefs?
When ideas are validated by experience, they become beliefs. Limiting beliefs are underpinned by experience and they are self-inflicted.

Here’s a list of ten limiting beliefs. See if you fall into any of them.

  1.  I’m too old to start over again
  2.  I’m not smart enough
  3.  I’m not skilled enough
  4.  I couldn’t handle failing
  5.  Money is the root of all evil
  6.  I’ve already tried that, it didn’t work
  7.  I can’t learn anything new
  8.  I don’t think I deserve it
  9.  I’m not good enough
  10.  I need more (fill in the blank) before I can (fill in the blank)

Now, think about this: A belief only serves us until it’s disproved. We have to prove a new belief before we will embrace it. That means that we have to be willing to examine our current beliefs and decide what’s working and what isn’t. Then, we get to create new beliefs based on challenging the old, getting rid of what doesn’t work and replacing it with what does work.
And, it takes some time, but it’s very doable.

plastic free

Tips for January 2020

Keeping with the theme of decluttering, here are some tips you can try that can lead to a more open and spacious life and environment:

  1. Environmentally, our landscape is cluttered with throw-away items that aren’t necessary for a happy life.  So, think beyond single-use plastic and avoid single-use wooden cutlery, paper straws or aluminum cans because they also have an impact on the environment. What to use instead?  The real things – things that are reusable.
  2. If you’re buying new clothes (or anything for the home, office, car), get rid of something you already have.  For instance, if you buy a new dress, give an older one away.
  3. Plan your meals.  What?  How is that decluttering?  Well, by planning your meals before going shopping, you’re less likely to stock up on things you already have in the house but they’re buried in the back of the fridge or cupboard.
  4. Shop with a list.  Avoid impulse buying and stocking up.  In Europe and Asia, people shop for what they need on a daily basis so everything is fresh and used immediately.  Not possible for you? That’s okay – just be sure to buy what you need instead of impulse buying or getting more than you need because it’s on sale.
  5. Get enough sleep.  Okay, how does that impact clutter?  Well, your bedroom should have only two functions: sleep and sex.  Take the rest of the stuff out of the room; magazines, computer, knitting and your evening snacks.  Those activities should be done outside of the bedroom.  Allow space for a good night’s sleep.
  6. Mental to-do lists, packed calendars, and tempting distractions make your schedule feel as chaotic as your closet. Don’t be afraid to cut out or set restrictions on activities that no longer add value to your life.
  7. Saying No to something is as good as saying Yes to yourself.  We can clutter our lives by committing to things (and others) and end up overcommitting and being not fully present to enjoy the moment because we’re mentally on to the other items.  Leave breathing room in your schedule.
Decluttered room

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

At day’s end, the only person who can make a decision as to which objects, tasks and routines are meaningful to you, and which are just clutter is YOU. The following tips might just inspire you toward a more productive and fluid mindset – and provide a lesson on decluttering.

The One-Touch Rule
According to Dr. Gerald Nestadt, director of the Johns Hopkins OCD clinic, making decisions immediately before clutter can root itself is important. “If you pick something up, make a decision then and there about it, and either put it where it belongs or discard it. Don’t fall into the trap of moving things from one pile to another again and again.” Try tossing junk mail as soon as you pick up your mail instead of taking everything to the kitchen table or your desk. Same goes for your inbox – clear it once a day. (btw, this really helped me. My old gmail account housed some 45,000 emails!! Thankfully, those days are gone.)

Be Proactive About Decluttering
If you don’t let clutter in, it won’t happen. Before you bring anything new into your space ask yourself: “Where will I store this?”; “How long will I have it?”; “How will I dispose of it?” and “Do I really need this?”
If you’re an impulsive buyer or shopaholic, try taking a month-long vacation from shopping. Instead of heading for the latest sale, take a walk or meet a friend for coffee or lunch. Turn your attention to what you already have and use great experiences as a reward rather than new things. If your inbox is cluttered, unsubscribe from emails that tempt you to buy more or what you don’t need.

Don’t Put It In A Box
The “out of sight, out of mind” saying doesn’t really aid in decluttering. Hiding clutter in containers isn’t the same as getting down and dirty with it. Actually, if you pull everything off the shelves or out of the closet, you get to see what you really have.
Chances are, you probably haven’t missed the things that have been packed away in boxes. If it hasn’t been used in the past year, be suspect and know you’ll probably survive quite well without it. Pass it on to someone who might really benefit and you get to have more space for something else.

Interrogate Your Clutter
That’s right. Talk to yourself. Rather than just asking if you like that object, ask instead why it needs to be in your space. Often we have a hard time saying goodbye to objects associated with old accomplishments, goals, identities, or relationships. The good news is that you can still have and cherish the memories without the things they’re attached to.

This has been a valuable tool for me. I have given myself permission to recognize when an object no longer adds value to my life. Things that I kept because they were gifts or I spent a good deal of money on came under the spotlight of interrogation and I found I had to be a little ruthless. However, the end result was an incredible feeling of freedom and recognition that letting go of the clutter is a real form of self-care. I’ve made space to grow, change, and welcome new experiences into my life.

I invite you to do the same.

A cluttered office

Carrying Too Much Stuff Into The Future

We very recently found ourselves in the position of having to move from our rented apartment on rather short notice. The thought of moving was overwhelming at first, but even more overwhelming was the sight of all the stuff we’d accumulated over the last decade. I was disgusted with myself, to say the least. This month we’ll talk about clutter and how it affects our lives.

The Disease of Consumerism

Statistics from the US indicate that the average American home has 300,000 items stashed in it. We’re bombarded by society with pressure to buy the latest, greatest, newest products out there to make our teeth whiter, our laundry fresher and our phones smarter than ever. Did you ever consider that all this stuff has to be stored somewhere?

All of those piles of clutter not only get in your way, they weigh on your mind. They represent decisions to make, goals to meet, and chores to get done. They take up space in the closet, desk, car and yes, your day as well. And, they don’t move you towards a productive and happy life. That’s why a new year is often a great time to take a good, hard look at your accumulated clutter and make some decisions. Discover why and how your collections of goodies might be impacting your stress levels and ultimately your ability to make choices that can be life-changing.

The Benefits of Decluttering
As a life and health coach, one of the first things I talk with my clients about is clearing the clutter in order to receive new information that, when utilized, can make behavioral changes easy. My own experience deepens my conviction around this concept because I’ve seen first hand, in my own life, the impact of clutter and the freedom of decluttering.
Imagine this – always knowing exactly where to find your keys, glasses, and water bottle! What a concept. Achieving an organized home, office, car, desk or life greatly reduces stress in your life. A study published in The Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that women who considered their homes more cluttered or unfinished felt more depressed and had higher levels of cortisol than women who described their homes as more restful. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0146…

Stress isn’t the only way clutter connects to your well-being. Another study from the Indiana University compared the tidiness of participants’ homes to their physical activity and overall health. As it turned out, the healthiest and most active participants were those who kept their living spaces clean. And, consider this … getting rid of clutter helps eliminate places for dust and mold spores to hide.
The health connection to clutter is fascinating and important. In yet another study on clutter, people working in a clean environment were more likely to choose an apple over a chocolate bar at snack time. This was likely due to the fact that clutter activates stress, which can lead you to reach for that sugar fix. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797613480186
In 2011, a study at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute found that having clutter in sight can make it more difficult to focus on a task without feeling distracted. Basically, the more visual stimuli your brain has to take in, the more you stress your brain and limit your processing power.

What, Exactly, Is Clutter?
According to home declutter expert Helen Sanderson, “Clutter is actually a pile of decisions that haven’t been made.” The piles on your countertop are made of things “you’ll do tomorrow,” or projects set aside for that elusive “someday.”
We all have our own clutter battles; for me it’s books I have yet to read (and probably won’t) as well as books I’ve read and boxed 20 years ago. I have been a collector of health, wellness, fitness, nutrition and psychology books and articles for more years than I can remember … and guess what, I was carrying all that around from country to country. Over time, these grew in number and, when we had to move this last time, I was overwhelmed with the sheer volume of volumes I’d collected.
Is There Hope For Me? How Do I Let This Stuff Go?
I guess the big question for me is “Why is it so hard to make the decision to let go of my stuff?” If that’s your question too, here are some possible reasons: Maybe you feel guilty for wasting money, or for tossing objects you bought connected to specific goals (like those expensive hiking boots for that trek you bailed on). How about, “I might need this sometime,” or “this is probably worth something.” Then again, maybe you’re like me and you’re simply overwhelmed by the immense pile of stuff, like I was.
Truth told, you’re the only one who can determine what is trash and what is treasure. When we get clear on what we don’t want in our lives a funny thing happens at the exact same time; we get clear on what we do want. And this overflows into other areas of our lives. On an energetic level, we free up space for new experiences, new relationships, new opportunities and new goals and aspirations.
Check out the next article for some tips on how to declutter.

couple on bench

Toxic Relationships to Avoid

Fortunately, there’s been a lot of scientific research into healthy and happy relationships over the past few decades that have allowed people in the know to build their mental strength against toxic relationships and toxic relationship behaviors.

1. Relationships run by one person.

A relationship is toxic when one person is running it. Period.

When you feel out of control or a little lost it can be tempting to look for someone willing to take charge of your life for you, just to alleviate the pressure. But before you do consider this: If you put a collar around your own neck and hand the leash to someone else, you’ll have no say about where they lead you in life.

2.  Relationships that are supposed to “complete” you.

Our culture, which is predicated on fantasies of romantic love, often suggests that once you meet “The One,” you will be lifted out of your misery or boredom and elevated into a state of perpetual wholeness and bliss.

So, it’s easy to believe that it’s your partner’s job to make you feel joyful and whole. But the truth is, while a healthy relationship can certainly bring joy, it’s not your partner’s job to fill in your empty voids. That’s your job and yours alone, and until you accept full responsibility for your emptiness, pain, or boredom, problems will inevitably ensue in the relationship.

The longing for completion that you feel inside comes from being out of touch with who you are. Nobody else in this world can make you happy. It’s something you have to do on your own. And you have to create your own happiness first before you can share it with someone else.

3.  Relationships that rely on codependency.

When your actions and thoughts revolve around another person to the complete disregard of your own needs, that’s codependency, and it’s toxic. When you set a precedent that someone else is responsible for how you feel at all times (and vice versa), then you both will develop codependent tendencies.  When someone begins to get upset, all personal needs go out the window because it’s now your responsibility to make one another feel better.

The biggest problem of developing these codependent tendencies is that they breed resentment.

4. Relationships based on idealistic expectations.

You don’t love and appreciate someone because they’re perfect, you love and appreciate them in spite of the fact that they are not.  “Perfection” is a deadly fantasy – something none of us will ever be. So beware of your tendency to “fix” someone when they’re NOT broken. They are perfectly imperfect, just the way they should be.

Bottom line: Any relationship that’s real will not be perfect, but if you’re willing to work at it and open up, it could be everything you’ve ever dreamed of.

5. Relationships where past blame is used to justify present righteousness.

When someone you’re in a relationship with continues to blame you for your past mistakes, your relationship is toxic.

When you use someone else’s past wrongdoings in order to try and justify your own present righteousness, it’s a lose-lose situation. Not only are you dodging the current (valid) issue itself, but you’re digging up guilt and bitterness from the past to manipulate the other person into feeling wrong in the present.

6.  Relationships built on daily lies.

Trust is the foundation of a healthy relationship, and when trust is broken it takes time and willingness on the part of both people to repair it and heal. If you’re covering up your tracks in any way, it’s only a matter of time before the truth is revealed and trust in the relationship is broken.

7.  Relationships that lack forgiveness and the willingness to rebuild trust.

Failing to understand that broken trust CAN be repaired leads to a grim future.

When trust is broken, which happens in nearly every long-term relationship at some point, it’s essential to understand that it can be repaired, provided both people are willing to do the hard work of self-growth.

8.  Relationships in which passive aggression trumps communication.

Passive aggressive behavior takes many forms but can generally be described as a non-verbal aggression that manifests in negative behavior. Instead of openly expressing how they feel, someone makes subtle, annoying gestures directed at you. Instead of saying what’s actually upsetting you, you find small and petty ways to take jabs at someone until they pay attention and get upset.

9.  Relationships governed by emotional blackmail.

Emotional blackmail is when someone applies an emotional penalty against you when you don’t do exactly what they want. The key condition here is that you change your behavior, against your will, as a result of the emotional blackmail. In other words, absent the emotional blackmail you would do differently, but you fear the penalty so you give in. This is extremely toxic behavior.

The solution, as with passive aggression, is simply better communication.

10   Relationships that are always put on the back burner.

Failing to carve out quality time for important relationships is one of the most toxic relationship mistakes of them all, and yet it often goes unnoticed… at least for a while… until everything starts falling apart.

The truth is, relationships are like any other living entity: they require dedicated time in order to survive and thrive. Make time every week to focus only on those you care about, and time every day to pour even just a few minutes of quality interaction into your closest relationships.

Five Steps to End a Toxic Relationship

Five Steps to End a Toxic Relationship

So how do we get out of toxic relationships?
In this pared-down version of Theresa Borchard’s steps to ending toxic relationships, she shows how it is possible to leave the pain and live a freer life. The ability to ask and answer questions honestly provides the truth we need in order to make changes that benefit us.

  1. Step out of denial (review past negative behaviors) – Are you energized or drained after spending time with X? Do you want to spend time with X or do you feel like you have to? Do you feel sorry for X? Do you go to X looking for a response that you never get? Do you come away consistently disappointed by X’s comments and behavior? Are you giving way more to the relationship than X? Do you even like X?
  2. Identify the perks (discover how you feel in the present) – All relationships, even toxic ones, have hidden benefits. Or why would you stay in them? So identify the perks. Determine what, specifically, you are getting from this relationship. Does X make you feel attractive and sexy? Does helping X with her kids even though it exhausts you relieve your guilt in some twisted way because you feel like your life is easier than hers? Even though X doesn’t treat you well, does she remind you of your verbally abusive mom, and therefore bring you a (toxic) comfort level?
  3. Fill the hole (practice selected present hedonism) – Find alternative sources of peace and wholeness – nourish yourself. In other words, do things that make you feel better and in ways so that you don’t have to rely on others. For instance, revisit that project you put on the back burner, learn meditation or yoga, call friends, and remind yourself that you won’t feel this way (sad, angry, upset) forever.
  4. Surround yourself with positive people (be pro-social) – Hopefully these folks are working on their boundaries as hard as you are; they are enmeshed in their fair share of toxic relationships and therefore become somewhat toxic themselves. The stuff is contagious. Be smart with whom you choose to hang out.
  5. Heal the shame (replace past negative with a bright future positive) – Work toward healing the part of yourself that may be attracting toxic relationships. This may mean exploring past toxic relationships, forgiving yourself for the part you played and realizing that you deserve the right kind of love and attention in order to create a brighter future for yourself.

Let go of the negative past and give love permission to enter your life

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel.”
by Maya Angelou.

Resources:
http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/03/15/you-deplete-me-10-steps… by By THERESE J. BORCHARD , www.Worldof Psychology.com

Toxic relationships

The Relationship Quandry

As human beings, we all have the basic need to relate to other people. Granted, there are the very few who don’t, but usually, that type of behavior is an indicator of something quite serious. On the whole, we interact with others and hopefully, those interactions produce good results for all concerned.

In this month’s newsletter, we’ll be taking a look at a type of relationship that often nets results we’d rather not have in our lives. These relationships are known as Toxic Relationships and you’ll be surprised at how my of us are either in a toxic relationship or are ourselves toxic.

The Faces of Toxic Relationships

While we tend to group toxic relationships into those within couples, toxic relationships actually have many faces. We see them in our personal lives with parents, children, siblings and in friendships, as well as in the workplace between supervisors and employees along with coworkers. You probably know the toxic person … You do something good or nice for someone believing or hoping that they’ll return the kindness. You loan money or your car, take care of their kids while they go away – things like that. The toxic person doesn’t pay you back, returns the car damaged or dirty and empty of gas and makes no offers to fix or fill it, and even asks you to watch their kids again without ever offering to watch yours.

Now you’re feeling hurt and angry at both the offender and yourself. You’re brought down. You’ve been “used”. We hint with leading statements, offering a way of escape to the offender only to have our efforts ignored or unnoticed.

Who Is The Toxic Person?

We can think of toxic people as people who consistently behave in ways that make others feel devalued, inadequate, angry, frustrated, or guilty. In contrast, “nourishing” people are the polar opposite, making others feel valued, capable, loved, respected, and appreciated.

In his Self-Assessment Quiz, Karl Albrecht provides an opportunity for us to examine our own behaviors to determine if we are toxic ourselves. Our behaviors, whether we are aware of them or not, clearly tell others the type of person we are, provided they are aware of what toxicity looks like themselves.

If you’re interested in discovering your Toxic-Nourishing balance, check out his quiz at this link:
http://karlalbrecht.com/downloads/TNScale-Albrecht.pdf

Why Do We Seek Out Toxic Relationships?

The tendency to unconsciously seek out toxic relationships frequently starts with past negative experiences when we are children and might carry on throughout our lives. They can become so deeply ingrained in the way we think and feel that we don’t realize we are steeped in toxicity until, or hopefully when, someone else points it out. The toxic person in our lives (and maybe it’s us), is generally concerned about themselves and their needs; the relationship is classic codependent. The worse form is when that other is your partner or mate, supposedly there forever!

Five Signs You’re in a Toxic Relationship

In their book, The Time Cure, Rosemary K.M. Sword and Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D., list five signs to help identify if you’re in a toxic relationship.

  1. It seems like you can’t do anything right – The other person constantly puts you down as not good enough. They mock your personality and you feel ashamed most of the time. You only feel pardoned when you take on the traits of the person doing the condemning or judging.
  2. Everything is about them and never about you – You have feelings too, but the other person won’t hear them. You’re unable to have a two-sided conversation where your opinion is heard, considered, and respected. Instead of acknowledging your feelings, they battle with you until they get the last word.
  3. You find yourself unable to enjoy good moments with this person – Every day brings another challenge. It seems as though they are always raising gripes about you. Their attempt to control your behavior is an attempt to control your happiness.
  4. You’re uncomfortable being yourself around that person – You don’t feel free to speak your mind. You have to put on a different face just to be accepted by that person. You realize you don’t even recognize yourself anymore.
  5. You’re not allowed to grow and change – Whenever you aim to grow and improve yourself, the other person responds with mockery and disbelief. There is no encouragement or support for your efforts. Instead, they keep you stuck in old judgments insisting that you will never be any different than you are now.
    If you’re experiencing even just one of these signs, check-in with yourself to see if the relationship is doing more damage than good.
Can We Really Tackle Procrastination

Can We Really Tackle Procrastination

In order to move away from procrastination and move into being more of what we really want to be, we have to understand our emotions. Because, if we can turn our aversions (that trigger procrastination) into a source of motivation, we may be able to actually reach our stars.

Procrastination has been defined as the voluntary delay of any action that we realize we ought to pursue now. It can manifest it in any number of ways: work, exercise, cleaning the toilet or sending a birthday card. Even though it can be something folks joke about, to those who live with it, the reality is anything but funny.

Procrastinators, it’s been discovered, tend to harbor self-limiting beliefs, negative self-talk, and may often deal with depression and anxiety; yielding to impulses more readily than other people.

There’s A Link Between Procrastination, Impulsivity and Mood!

Thank goodness for research! Dr. Fuschia Sirois, Researcher and Author, observes: “It’s not just about being driven purely by pleasure-seeking but about avoiding negative emotions.”

Often procrastinators have a negative inner dialogue that is demeaning to themselves. Internal comments like, “I’m stupid” or “If I don’t do this right everything else I do is pointless.” Psychologist Roy F. Baumeister of Florida State University and his collaborators have demonstrated that negative emotions diminish self-control. Anxiety undermines diets as well as a smokers’ efforts to quit. All of our “survival techniques”, like eating a quart of ice cream after a breakup, are attempts at deflecting negative feelings. It turns out distraction is a great way to circumvent these feelings.

Although you might think you procrastinate for no reason at all, your dawdling may be a subconscious move to self-affirm: to check in with those things that shape your identity – your values and passions.

I have found it very heartening to learn that procrastination is much deeper than a bad habit that slows me down. I now understand there is a definite psychological thrust to it and that enables me to heal and move forward.

Some Tips That Might Help

Here are some tips I picked up from a lovely guide I found to help people like me (and maybe like you, too). While the bulk of the work is from the inside out, these little tips can help to keep you focused and provide a way to get more done instead of “wandering away from your task”.

1. If you’re a techie type and love apps for your phone, check out some of these that help you stay focused on what you have to do:

  • Rescue Time
  • Noisli (for those bothered by outside noises)
  • Remember the Milk (if you keep reminders running around in your head)
  • Time Warp (to get you back on track when your fingers do the walking to games)
    There are myriad others, just don’t get distracted by the shopping page. 🙂

2. Create a checklist: This is one of my faves and something I’ve done for ages. It helps me get stuff done.

3. Pomodoro Method: Use a timer and set it for 25 minutes (or whatever is needed) to accomplish a specific task. When the timer goes off, take a break. Then reset and go again.

4. Hide your phone. This one really bugs some of the people in my world, but it works for me because I distract easily and every time the thing dings I stop what I’m doing to see what’s happening. It doesn’t make for a productive workday. I leave my phone in another room and, if I have important stuff to do, I put it on airplane mode. The trick is to take it off airplane mode when I’m finished … I’m still working on that.

5. Eat the Frog. There’s a book by that name. Anyway, eating the frog is doing the tough stuff first to get it out of the way. Now, you may not like to eat frogs and prefer to do the little things first. Okay. Whatever, just do something.

6. Write in a diary. Sure, it’s old fashioned, but it really works if you use it to write down your tasks list and your reason for doing the task. When you feel like checking out, take a few minutes to review your diary – it can give you the inspiration to keep going.

7. Here’s the most important one in my opinion: Forgive Yourself. Take yourself off the guilt hook by acknowledging you’re a procrastinator and then forgive yourself for it. Studies actually show that actively forgiving yourself for procrastination leads to less frequent procrastination behaviors in the future. So be kind to yourself and let go of the past. After all, you can’t change the past, but you can impact your future.