Five Habits that Sabotage Your Plans, and Mind-Body Suggestions to Address Them
If it's true that a plan not implemented is just a wish, what are some of the ways we sabotage our own wishes and how can we get on track to turn them back into plans and help fulfill them?
Complacency: Failure to Take Stock
What do you plan to change? Do you want to lose weight—but you will start next week, stop smoking—when you're not under so much stress or find a new relationship—after you lose weight? If you have too many things on your plate, and too many excuses, you might simply not start. Journaling is a great way to figure out where you want to go and how to get there. Choose the most important goal on your list, and begin writing at least three pages every day about your thoughts and feelings regarding the goal. If you keep writing, you might discover that what you really need to change first is quite different from what you wrote on your list. There are numerous websites and publications about journaling. My favorite instructional journaling book, which I have often recommended to my students, is The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, by Julia Cameron.
Inertia: Failure to Take Action
Inertia means inaction, making no progress. It's often experienced as a paralyzing fear to act, or a sense of being too overwhelmed to take action. The best-laid plans can't work unless you take action. A great way to address the fear, sensory overload and accompanying chaotic mind-chatter is by engaging in mindfulness meditation. "Breathing meditation can quiet the mind, open the body, and develop a great power of concentration."—Jack Kornfield. Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique or Thought Field Therapy) is also an easily-learned technique that can help neutralize the fears that are freezing you.
Perfectionism: Setting Impossible Goals
The perfectionist's mantra is, "If I can't do it perfectly, I'm not going to do it at all." Instead of setting attainable goals, like cutting out sugar and moving more, a perfectionist would resolve to drop 30 pounds and run a marathon. Yoga has been found to be an antidote for perfectionism, given the painstakingly slow pace of the practice and the absence of any need to perfect the poses. Take a look around a typical yoga class and you will see many over-achievers and perfectionists, who are drawn to this ancient practice as a way of taking time out. If you need scientific proof, consider that eating disorders are often associated with a need to be perfect and read BR's blog post Yoga Shows Promise for Eating Disorders. To learn how yoga can reduce anxiety, often associated with perfectionism, read BR 's post, Yoga Program Reduces Anxiety, Depression; Increases Well-Being.
Self-Bullying: Negative Self-Talk
Negative self-talk can de-rail the best of plans. "As a clinical hypnotherapist, I would say that constant fault-finding with oneself cements an idea that we are not good enough, or worse-than – in effect, reinforcing a trance of unworthiness, and it happens regardless of whether our negative self-evaluations have any objective validity."—Dr. Traci Stein. To learn more about how to use loving kindness and self-compassion to deal with self-bullying, read her blog post, Fat Talk, Body Shaming, and Other Forms of "Self-Bullying". For more tips on dealing with negative self-talk, read Belleruth's How to Silence Toxic Self-criticism That's Coming from Your Own Head.
Procrastination: Putting Off the Inevitable
The mother of all spoilers has to be procrastination. It feeds off the other negative behaviors, creating a frustrating downward spiral. Fortunately, guided imagery can provide the mother of all solutions to this vexing habit. Traci Stein's audio program Guided Self-hypnosis to Help Free Yourself from Procrastination has received rave reviews from even the most entrenched procrastinators. Not only does it help us figure out why we procrastinate, it offers step-by step solutions. Paired with Belleruth's Concentration, Focus and Learning, it packs a powerful punch to get you started and keep you focused until you cross your chosen finish line.
Whether you experience some or all of the above, each of the behaviors can become a negative habit that spoils your plans. To learn more about using mind-body techniques to change negative behavior, read Health Journeys' free wellness report, Kicking the Habit: The Ten Keys to Positive Change, by Dr. Traci Stein.
You can find a list of mind-body practices and a brief explanation of each on our website.
Two common threads running through mind-body practices are loving kindness and mindfulness, which have numerous benefits, and can be easily combined with other mind-body or conventional treatments. We at Health Journeys wish you success in making, carrying out or changing your plans. We wish you the many benefits of loving kindness and mindfulness and we welcome your stories, comments and questions.
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