The Two Habits
by Robin Sacks
Habits are powerful; they either give you power, or they take your power away.
When you're in a place of choice with your habits, you can deal with situations more effectively.
But when your emotions are on autopilot, they can lessen your power.
For example, if your habitual emotional go-to is anxiety or anger or defensiveness, your power has been instantly taken away. You are literally out of control when you are on autopilot.
Developing the habit of mindfulness allows you to develop the habit of choice.
When you get in the habit of putting yourself in a place of choice, you can maintain control in virtually any situation.
If you have a default (habitual) emotion that does not serve you, here are two simple habits to develop in order to instantly feel more in control of yourself, and of the situation at hand.
1. You have heard this a million times, and if you're still not doing it, you're missing out on being in control! Take a flipping breath. It sounds so simple, and every time someone else is stressing out, you tell them to take a breath. But most people don't give this advice to themselves.
The difference between reacting, which is autopilot, and responding which is choice, is one breath.
If you do nothing more, get in the habit of taking a deep breath before you open your mouth - every time! When you do this, you will notice that your outcomes will change drastically, for the better. You will feel more in control of them because you responded (choice) instead of reacted (habit).
2. Take the tension out of your posture. When we go to autopilot emotions, our body follows suit. Our bodies and brains are machines, and they are interconnected. What typically happens with the human machine is - first, we have a thought - next, that thought creates an emotion - and finally, that emotion creates behavior. If you work this equation from bottom to top, and you learn to be in control of your behavior, it will have a positive impact on your emotions and thoughts.
What might this look like?
The simple act of sitting back against the back of a chair when you are beginning to feel stressed, nervous, anxious, tense, angry, or whatever other emotion might be your autopilot, puts you in a very different space, both mentally and physically. When we are feeling any of those aforementioned emotions, we have tension. When you have tension, it goes somewhere in your body. When you have tension in your body, you may come off as nervous, aggressive, mad or anxious, simply because you are tense. (You know what being tense feels like on the inside, but be aware if how it looks on the outside.) It can send messages that are misleading, and cause miscommunication.)
If you create a habit of simply sitting back, with your back against the chair, arms open or at your sides, you instantly send a message from your body to your brain that things are okay. You also release any tension that you had while sitting up stiffly, crossing your arms, or leaning forward (all behaviors that tension in our bodies make us do). You not only appear more open to others, but you appear more open to yourself, and you take up your space in the room. That behavior has a positive impact on yourself confidence.
Practicing and mastering these two simple habits will not only help you show up in a more confident way to other people, but it will consistently send the message to your body and brain that you're in control.
When you create these two habits, your stress and anxiety go way down, and your self-confidence goes way up.