Did you know that making a good decision about creating new habits can actually be painful?
For example: A good decision is deciding that you want to improve your health. (Build Muscle, Lose Weight, Move Better etc…)
And so, you may something like “I can’t wait to feel awesome and I am stoked to start this program”
You have started framing this experience as positive, and thus, a habit you wish to create.
It’s easy to stick to something positive…
However, after a hard training session, it’s easy to say “Man that sucked, I really hate training with John (even though you know it’s what you want and need).”
You sub-consciously become less enthusiastic about the next session and say something like “I really don’t want to go….that sucked last time.”
And thus, the positive story about your habit…turns negative very quickly.
For awhile, you plod along, hoping to make this habit stick and then life throws a curve ball (your great aunt Florence passes) and you miss a few training sessions.
The story might then change to: “I really f***ed up and feel like crap for missing my training with John….he is just so awesome….and I’m not as good at this habit as I thought, why can’t I be more disciplined?”
And now the story is really taking a negative slide, which is painful and what do humans do best?
So now, you might start not thinking about your habit and thus….skipping all your training with John 🙁
And so, the key to making habits stick, is to tell yourself a positive story about the habit, by re-framing it from negative, to positive.
The truth is….none of those stories are real….you made them up and they are now narratives for your habit…instead of fact, or reality, which is happening now, right now!
And in an ideal world, we would just drop the stories and be present, experiencing reality as it happens (not the story we are telling our heads).
But, nothing is ideal and humans are also very good at telling stories (or very bad…)
So, if you’re telling yourself a negative story, try asking yourself how you feel about the habit you are creating…
-Are you psyched about it?
– or Are you dreading it?
-Do you feel strong?
-or Do you feel lousy?
These are framing your story…possibly in a negative light
But you can start to re-frame the story and flip it on it’s head, by focusing on what you love about the new habit
-I love how I feel
-I feel awesome when I complete a session
-I see my body changing and it’s exciting
-I love myself enough to do this
This doesn’t mean that I’m telling you to ignore negative feelings and only think positive. That’s not realistic. There are times where my training really sucks, and that’s ok….still gotta do it.
I am saying if you think more positively about it, it will be easier to stick to and thus, create a long term healthy habit.
If you resent it, or hate doing it and see it as a sacrifice, you are more likely to blow it up when the s**t hits the fan, so to speak…
So here is an exercise to try when you feel negative and you want to stay positive
Use one or more of the following thoughts when working on your habit:
1. This habit makes me strong/healthy/empowered (or some other positive trait).
2. I am proud of myself for this habit
3. I feel successful with this habit
4. I’m learning about myself with this habit
5. I love my experience with this habit
6. I am excited to share my habit with others
7. I appreciate the little things that make the big picture
8. This can be a struggle, but it’s definitely worth it.
9. This habit is improving my life an multiple ways.
10. I’m lucky to be able to do this habit.
11. There are things that I look forward to (like training with John)
12. I’ve slipped before, but it’s ok
13. I am more resilient with my habit
14. I feel accomplished and satisfied after a session
15. I am a better person when I do this habit.
So when you have a negative impulse, work to inject something positive from the list above.
Over time, your story will become more positive
And that will make all the difference — not only will you want to stay with it longer, you’ll enjoy it more each time you do it.