Reflecting on negative habits

We have identified what habits are and how they are formed. We have also identified what is important to us. Now it’s time to look at the habitual actions that are stopping us from getting where we want to be.

Rational behaviours

We know that we are rational people. We know that we are capable of making good decisions. Sometimes though, we make decisions that  aren’t in keeping with our goals.

We also know that we are friendly,  social and caring. But sometimes we just can’t seem to help ourselves from behaving in the opposite way.

This is a sign that there are bad habits, relics from our past, getting in the way.

We now need to identify what these habits are so that we can keep moving in the right direction.

A reflection on  past actions

Past actions influence future plans and actions. Reviewing past actions is a way to ensure we are heading in the right direction. It also allows us to identify our negative behaviours.

Activity 1

Find a quiet place either first thing in the morning or at night. Look back over the day and ask yourself these questions:

  • What actions have I taken that have steered me away from my chosen course?
  • What did I fail to do?
  • What habits are stopping me from achieving my goals?
  • What did I do that was unfriendly or unsocial or uncaring?

These are difficult and confronting questions. Just allow your mind to reflect on these, and when examples arise, write them down. Then look at these examples of behaviours and try to identify the habit that is behind them.

The act of writing these down will prompt your mind to remind you the next time you are in the same or a similar situation.  This will create an opportunity to follow a different course of action.

The prompt will be strengthened by regular update and review.

As an example, here are some of my recent reflections. Maybe you recognise some:

My bad habits

  • I got angry with one of my co-workers again. I have the habit of getting angry when things don’t go as I want them to.
  • I bought some junk food again. I’ve developed the habit of rewarding myself  for doing things that are boring and routine.
  • I lost my temper at home again. I’ve inherited this habit rom my father.

A reflection on progress

Here is a valuable follow-up activity

Activity 2

After you have identified the habits that are hindering you, begin to chart your progress. Regularly ask yourself:

  • What positive actions did I take today?
  • What bad habits was I able to curb today?
  • What examples of compassion did I display today?

What’s next

Don’t expect habits to change quickly. It’s taken a lifetime to develop them and it will take time to change. Don’t get into the habit (like me) of getting angry with yourself when you are not making quick progress. This is another unproductive and hindering habit. Show yourself some compassion.

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