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Latosha Martin
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Latosha Martin   My Press Releases

Choosing new behaviors; Thinking ahead

Published on 8/19/2013
For additional information  Click Here

Very often in Work in Progress I ask questions and hope that the answers will start readers thinking in new and different directions. Usually my goal is that they will choose their own actions steps as a result. But perhaps some people prefer a clearer call to action. So, from time to time, this newsletter will carry a section called ACTION STEPS in which a step towards change will be laid out, and the challenge given that you carry it out for six weeks (forty days is traditionally the length of time needed to fully change or establish a habit). So this one would be scheduled to last until the end of July. If you seriously try, and it hasn't become a habit by then, obviously it is not for you.

This month, think of someone from whom you could learn something. It must be someone you know personally. In your mind, isolate one thing, it may be quite small, that he or she does that you really admire, and that you do not now do. Make a decision to do it regularly, as often as is appropriate, preferably daily. Keep track so that you do not forget. Let me know what the effects are.

There's an oft-repeated saying - insanity is doing what you've always done and expecting not to get what you've always got. As one of my cats played the other day, I noticed a sudden and unexpected movement. Playing with a small plastic ball, she had leaped forward and caught it just before it rolled under the couch. Typically, she races around the house chasing it, watching as it bounces off walls and comes back to her. She does not leap forward to overtake and stop it in its forward path. Except... when it is rolling toward the couch and about to disappear under it. Apparently she has figured out that once it gets under there, she cannot get it out, and then she has no toys to amuse her. So it is up to her to keep it from rolling under there. Since then I have observed her do the same thing several times. Apparently even a cat can learn to anticipate consequences, and to take action to avoid those consequences when they are unwelcome.

How often have you had some unwelcome consequence occur that, when you thought back on it, you could have anticipated and avoided? How often have you let the same thing happen more than once? Repeated the same old mistake in relationships? In purchases that were not a good use of your hard-earned money? What do you need to do to break those patterns?

First, what is the repeated result that you get but do not want? For the cat, no toys to play with. For you, emotional pain, bills, what? Then, what is the pattern that leads to it? When the ball rolls to the couch, the ball is lost. When you make the same relationship mistake, you get hurt... Just stop and think about it.

The next step is to realize that it is YOU who are repeating the pattern. "That's just the way I am," is a cop-out. YOU are the captain of your ship and you CAN choose to change the way you are and the way you behave. Or not. You are not a helpless victim here, unless you choose to allow yourself to be a victim. We can say, "Poor little kitten has no toys to play with because they all rolled under the couch." Or we can say, "She let it happen, that was her choice so she is not a victim." Do you prefer to be a victim, or not? What remains, then, is to decide what to do to change the pattern. Grab the ball (or your heart, or your cash, or whatever it is you are about to lose yet again...) and change the pattern. It can be done, and YOU CAN DO IT! See what exciting new consequences may result.

What are the things you keep thinking it would be nice to do for yourself? I'm thinking of little things, things that many coaches refer to as "delicious daily habits." These are not 'shoulds,' not things that you OUGHT to do. They are things that would enrich your life and make it more enjoyable.

Suggestions... a time limit on television-watching... time to read a book... listen (really listen) to some special music... a five-minute energizing or stretching routine... an achievement journal or a gratitude journal... practicing saying 'thank you,' or, for some people, 'no.' Perhaps doing something more than what you usually do to connect with people... or with your inner self... making a point of stopping what you are doing to look people in the face and pay full attention when they talk... smiling at them... taking time for meditation... or a bubble bath... what goes on YOUR list?

Many of us make a list of ten such habits, and try to practice them at least five days a week. After a while the list may need changing. Something may not work. Or it may become such second nature that we do not need to focus on it any more... which, of course, is the goal.

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