Maybe you’ve never thought about it, but just as you have behavioral mechanisms that are routine, you also have emotional habits that are repetitive. Do you know how they affect you?
Your habits might include a cup of coffee with breakfast, exercise in the afternoon, and a good read before bed. do you know yours emotional habits with the same precision? You may not be aware of this, but emotional habits follow a certain pattern. The same circuits activate over and over again. Can you imagine the impact that has?
You may not find it difficult to identify certain emotional tendencies around you. Some people are energetic and optimistic, while others are passive or pessimistic. There are suspicious and fearful people, as well as calm and serene ones. Although we all experience a wide range of emotions, some are more pronounced than others: They have become a habit.
How to acquire your emotional habits
Habits are regular behaviors, patterns that we automatically repeat without thinking twice. They make everyday life easier for us and help us to save energy. You are not even aware of many of these routine processes: preparing breakfast, brushing your teeth and then driving to work. This sequence is so ingrained that you perform it automatically without having to think. It is also similar with the emotional habits: They are certain patterns or response tendencies that we have acquired.
We learn in childhood which feelings are appropriate at which point in time. Through observation and imitation we acquire certain emotional states and ways of reacting, which become more and more solid through repetition and practice.
These emotional habits are programmed and come to the surface without our being able to choose them. Even when we don’t like it, we often react with anger or feel anxious or hopeless. Fortunately, we can break these emotional habits and develop functional processes.
Discover your emotional habits
Like any other habit, emotional habits can be changed through various strategies. It’s important to them first identify and understand their triggers, so that you can consciously act differently and establish a new sequence that you anchor in place of the unwanted response.
For example, imagine that you have a habit of drinking coffee every morning while sitting on the sofa; you already do that automatically. If you choose to exercise every morning instead, you must make a conscious effort to engage in that activity after waking up until it becomes a habit.
The same goes if you want to change your emotional habits. The first step is to recognizing these habits to avoid the automatic sequence and consciously imprint other patterns on you. Answering the following questions can help you:
- Which emotions determined your life yesterday, last month, last year? You will see that it is not that difficult to answer this question, because we all have a certain emotional inclination.
- How do you react in certain situations? Emotional habits are very easy to spot if you pay attention to how you react to challenging events. For example, if your child leaves a messy room, you may respond with anger and threats. In conflicts with others, you may hold back or isolate yourself instead of asserting yourself. Or when faced with a new professional challenge, you may react with fear, anxiety, and a lack of self-confidence. If these reactions repeat themselves frequently in similar situations, you have found your emotional habits.
If you find it difficult to identify your emotional habits, you can ask people close to you for help. These patterns are often easier to see from the outside.
Change your emotional tendencies
Once you’ve identified your tendencies, you need to replace them with other, positive habits. Take the time to write down how you want to react or feel in a certain situation next time. For example, you no longer want to be anxious, but optimistic.
Consider that Emotions are the result of a thought process are, so you have to change your interpretation of the situation and your inner dialogue. Instead of thinking “I can’t”, “It won’t work”, “I’m not ready”, consciously choose other phrases like “This new challenge is exciting”, “I will do my best”, “I will find a way find to overcome the obstacles” …
Of course, this change of mind will feel forced at first. To establish these new emotional habits, you still need to repeat them, and as often as possible. Once this new way of thinking becomes routine, automatic, you have achieved positive change.
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