Photo by Adam Voorhes
One reason behavior is hard to change is that you can’t change your environment. When you are at work, your social group, with co-works, family and friends who see you a certain way and expect you to act a certain way, A lot of our everyday habits are caused by circumstances in the world and how we have been reacting to them for years. They are automatic.
We purchase the same toothpaste, go for coffee to the same coffee shop, we hang out with the same people, we listen to the repeated negative complaints from people who only see one side of the problem. We get into a routine and don’t see what else is out there. You put sugar in your coffee without thinking about how bad sugar is for your body and that much of the coffee flavor is lost. Being mindful of the stronger taste would actually make you younger for that moment.
Places can have negative triggers. Our morning coffee comes with a free donut or we purchase the same muffin every day. We might even go out of our way just for that bakery goodie. We can walk in and refuse the donut or muffin if we “talk to ourselves” and remind ourselves of this poor nutritional choice and if we must have something, go for the plain yogurt. Listen to your inner voices, brainstorming what’s best, making a good judgment. This voice is your intuition telling you what’s best. You only need to listen and follow it.
Negative thinking family members and close friends can encourage negative behaviors. You need to avoid these people and places. Certain friends like to hang out at an after work bar or bistro and you end up drinking too much every time you join them. You need control the urge to have that second glass of wine, be able to water the one glass down with ice cubes so it lasts longer or don’t go. Be mindful of what’s happening around you and make the choice. Most of us have phone ID and we know who’s calling. We don’t have to answer every caller. If you have a negative personality type friend, chances are the call is to complain. Maybe you are this person’s go to “rant” girlfriend, but this time you don’t need the negative conversation that goes on and on. You feel guilty after all she would listen to you. This is where you ask yourself–can it not wait? You don’t answer. Let it go to voicemail. You can always call back if it’s a real emergency. Let yourself feel what it’s like not to answer the phone. For some of us, this is a huge challenge. It might be harder than refusing the free donut.
People and places have powerful influences over us. Our environment is the most potent mechanism controlling our lifestyle. And it’s not always under our control. The best way to deal with a negative situation when we can’t change the environment is to avoid it. There are behaviors we do when we are there or with certain friends which we would never do alone.
Photo by Adam Voorhes: SUPER FUN PHOTO STUDIO LAND Austin, TX