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Successfully Working Past Behavior Struggles

When our habits require change yet we struggle to move towards personal development

(Sheena Elimendez, founder of Sheena Eizmendez, LLC)
(Sheena Elimendez, founder of Sheena Eizmendez, LLC)

When a mindset is programmed in suboptimal ways and behavior is leading a person off course, even if it’s unnoticeable, it can be difficult to convince ourselves that adjustments are not only wise but necessary.

There is a quote phrased in an interesting way that comes to mind:

“Learn to reject your bad habits. Learn to say “no” to yourself.”

Blunt and not so simple in practice, yet on the surface, seemingly intelligent counsel. Whether it is the most effective guidance might be reasonably debatable yet there comes a time when bad habits must be overcome as risk is escalating or consequences and punishments have already hit your “mainland (well-being)” hard.

“It’s what I mean when I say ‘save myself from myself,’” says Sheena Eizmendiz, founder of Sheena Eizmendiz, LLC and WellBiz, Corp.

A personal development and executive coach, corporate trainer and speaker, she knows that the enemy of personal development is the comfort zone, no matter how much of a wrong-way street that psychological safety area has become for us.

“It’s so easy to want to run from what makes us uncomfortable,” Eizmendiz says. “We continue to engage in it time and time again because we don’t stop to admit that something isn’t working.”

That ignorance, ego, denial or self deception is natural and more so for some people than others. These reactions serve a purpose, even if not ideal ones.

We create habits to feel comfortable and familiar with our surroundings, and it helps us to remember while processing information into our subconscious minds where we retain all our experiences. I like to call it our mental filing cabinet,” Eizmendiz says.

Getting into those file cabinets and gaining understanding of ourselves requires work, often highly concentrated, curious in nature, tedious and persistent in practice.

“In order to untangle some of these pre-existing conditions, we must learn to unlearn what we already know by being willing to become very uncomfortable with ourselves,” Eizmendiz says.

This means standing before a figurative mirror and looking at all parts of thinking, decision making and actions, not just that with which we feel confident and satisfied.

“Getting uncomfortable means doing the things we don’t want to do, such as quitting certain bad habits that aren’t good for us. It’s also about facing parts of us that we don’t feel proud of or coming to terms with having to change something we don’t want to let go of,” says Eizmendiz.

(Image by Gerd Altmann, on Pixabay)

Habits don’t change until self examination occurs and our outcomes (past, current and future) are studied and considered. They also don’t change until reward and risk are reevaluated and decision making and behavior improves.

The idea of “saying no to ourselves,” is not wanted, tolerated easily or often chosen yet it can become attractive.

“It’s like tapping into an intrinsic power to say ‘no’ to ourselves when we know we can choose something better,” Eizmendiz says. “Saying ‘no’ is a skill. Like all skills, we need to practice; it takes time and persistence.”

The type of practice she recommends is pursue the less daunting challenges first.

“One effective way is not trying to tackle the big habits at first, because small changes can make a significant impact,” Eizmendiz says. “Start small, build resilience and eventually, we condition ourselves to doing it without resistance. It becomes second nature.”

Rejection is simple for most humans, usually regarding offensive behavior and people yet not with our habits. Is it possible to create similar intense disdain or disinterest in habits that serve some sort of psychological need yet are not beneficial for us or those around us in a healthy manner?

“I find it helpful when we use the power of the word in what we say. Basically saying ‘I can’t’ only affirms a negative connotation. Instead, we can try saying ‘I won’t, or I don’t,’” Eizmendiz says. “For example, ‘I won’t drink this bottle of wine tonight.’ Another example is, ‘I don’t use drugs’ versus ‘I can’t use drugs.’”

That twist, she says, can make a significant positive difference in how our minds process meaning and affect feelings, attitudes, decisions and behavior.

“This simple change in terminology significantly improves the odds and likelihood of wanting to be defiant and engage in said behavior. Our words frame our outcome,” Eizmendiz says. “We form new habits when thinking, speaking and behaving when we are intentional with the words we use.”

Learn to reject your bad habits. Learn to say “no” to yourself.”

Continual learning solves most problems yet making it more desirable psychologically ​in instances where we have to stop doing something that gives us a reward yet is not good for us and start doing something we should do yet are not drive to do yet will bring benefits is a steep challenge.

“Motivation must be present when we want to learn something more desirable and perhaps, new. It is what sustains us in achieving our goals,” Eizmendiz says.

It’s a door to walk through regularly, with a mindset of receptivity, to protect and enhance well-being and move through struggles in our personal and professional lives.

Discovering within ourselves what is necessary to tap into strong, sustained motivation is a responsibility yet one with a potentially strong payoff and return on our investment of focus, discipline and perseverance.

“Being motivated to learn something regardless of how difficult it may seem at first, is what propels us to want to commit to what we have learned,” Eizmendiz says.

With that psychological drive, she says, comes assistance towards the objective.

“Motivation also elicits certain chemicals in the brain such as Dopamine, the goal achieving chemical. Researchers have shown that it causes individuals to initiate and persevere to obtain something either positive or negative.”

There is an additional benefit when motivation and Dopamine are working in conjunction. It’s what we’re not doing and how that too aids in development and improvement.

“In this case, we want to feel motivated to learn, and that by not engaging in something that is bad for us, we ultimately have more positive results.”

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