Becoming Aware Of Your Self Sabotaging Behavior
In the Tarot, there is a card called the Tower of Destruction. For many it is a scary card, predicting a huge disruption in the future. What most people don’t see in the more subtle aspects of the card is that the disruption is caused… we are at the heart of it. The card is saying it is time for us to shake things up… change old crusty behaviors that no longer serve us.
According to the Tarot Handbook, by Ariel Angeles, the card is about “healing and restoration, but first, it is a symbol of the change and awakening that is required to dismantle that which is artificial, false, or conditioned.”
Business 101 for Creative Entrepreneurs’ focus for 2018 is Developing Power and our first cut is all about our unconscious behaviors that are undermining our growth, business or personal.
These Behaviors Are Shaping Your Future
What we are taking on is our habits — those actions we take, over and over, as if they were a part of who we are. We tend to be unaware of them or, at the very least, we are unaware of their impact on our effectiveness.
Unconscious: What we are unaware of
Habits: Those thoughts and actions we do over and over, and over, whether they are good for us or not.
So how do we find and eliminate our own unconscious habits? I mean, they are unconscious, right?
First a few important and ground breaking insights into habits as they relate to being human!
1. Habits are whole system phenomena – they do not occur in a vacuum, so there is more than one aspect to most habits. They include thoughts, activities, timing, moods, and sometimes sounds or smells. Plus, habits wear grooves in our software AND our hardware.
Even new violins produce better sound and become better instruments by being played by a virtuoso – they get accustomed to the vibration and the vibration changes the cellular structure of the wood. Amazing right?!!
2. Habits are not all bad… we love habits and having things become second nature to us. Typing is a behavior we are trained to; language, driving, all are really great habits we have taken years to build. Any mastery you have is a habit you have intentionally developed. Congratulations!
3. Habits are a type of hypnosis we cast on ourselves. – At first the habits work and we love having them, but if you find yourself trying to change a behavior that does not serve you anymore, than you have a bad habit. No one makes us smoke, or bite our nails, or give up on our dreams. We do all of that through the choices we make yet we act as if it was happening to us through some outside power. Huh?
4. Not all habits are obvious. — Some are, nail biting, being late, leaving cabinet doors open, clutter, etc. Some are much more subtle. Things like, being over busy or over committing, putting things off with a great justification, not doing complete work, doing work that does not make the most mission critical work your fledgling company needs done…
5. Human behavior is extremely malleable throughout our whole life. What?! Yup, that’s right! We can change anything at any time… like Dorothy in Munchkin Land, we just have to be ready for the responsibility of being in charge of our own future.
OK, So If This is All True, How Do We Become Aware of Our Unwanted Behaviors?
Especially, when we are working hard on our new business? There are behaviors that we won’t discover until after we have started our new business and we are up to our ass in alligators. Are you laying the track to your own train wreck with your unconscious behaviors or bad habits?
How to break bad habits is one of the tougher tasks of being an entrepreneur. Sometimes the things we do to get started, our ability to shoot from the hip, or make quick decisions, are more automatic than we realize and we can’t really not do it. They serve us in some cases and undermine us in others.
A super simple but hugely impactful habit that I had for many years was to put off tasks that emerged during the day until I had more time. In the moment, I did not think I should stop what I was doing and deal with whatever just popped up because it would take me off what I was already doing… I was proud of my ability to stay on task and focus on what I was doing. What I learned was sometimes you need to re-evaluate the issue that popped up and at least put it in a schedule for WHEN it WILL get done, or it never gets done.
There is No More Time Coming
Why this is a subtle habit is because I really thought that I would get to it later. I also thought that being overly busy would end one day when I had more success, or had sold my business, or retired… it was always a someday thing that I dangled in front of my own face – my dream life did not include working like a mad woman, but there I was, every day.
Waking Up in the Middle and Changing Now
Waking up to the fact that I had put things off until later a thousand+ times before and it always produced the same result, I saw it was time to recognize that more time is never coming! The bad habit was pretending I would have more time one day. I accepted that I was lying to myself and I was the one ruining my peace of mind. That unconscious behavior was the path to running around like a chicken with its’ head cut off, which I did for years and just thought that was how it was supposed to look when you are super engaged entrepreneur. Busy, busy, busy.
So every time I decided to put something off, I would remember I was choosing to be insane and overwhelmed in a couple of weeks and I was painting myself into a corner for more things to “need” to be put off then too.
So how did I change that behavior?
Make a New Commitment to A Practice that Will Become a Habit
I tried a new practice…obviously, issues still came up, something would happen during the day, the phone would ring and it would be something that needed to be done. The new habit I started was taking the time to schedule it, right then. I keep a calendar on my desk so that I could check it immediately. It took an extra 2 minutes, but it also kept my days to normal work lengths and I had the confidence that everything was going to get done in a timely manner and nothing would get neglected or forgotten.
How to Get Started Revealing Your Unconscious Behaviors
To start revealing your own automatic behaviors, I suggest you journal your behaviors… write every day for a couple of months and see what behaviors you have every day.
Some places to look:
Transitions from work to relaxation or during your drive times.
How do you handle your money? Habits of shopping, saving, investing, or gift giving
When do you work?
Your most creative time of day is____________
When do you exercise?
When and how do you create meal plans?
When and how do you do your research? Dig deeper into what you are working on?
When do you read?
How do you keep track of ideas? Notes you take? Things you want and/or dream about?
Start Slow – Better to Be Effective —
All of these areas have many repetitive activities that may or may not serve you or fulfill your dream life goals. So consider taking them on, one at a time — start slow, the cravings, the unconsciousness will surface loud and proud, so taking on more than one at a time will likely set you up for failure. Start with one important habit that will give you a new level of mastery and provide you with power to accomplish your goals.
Suggested Reading: Time Magazine’s Special Edition on Habits
For more reading on how little things get in the way read: Where Has All My Passion Gone?
I started my first Creative Business when I was a single mom with four tiny children. That was 25 years ago and I started Business 101 for Creative Entrepreneurs to give back. I am so grateful for all the support I did get while I was getting started, but more than anything I wished I had some business support, some mentoring or guidance. I want you to know that I know how hard, confusing, and challenging it can be to be alone and have real questions with no one to ask.
Please accept this FREE 30 Minute Creative Business Consult as my way of saying “You Can Do It!”
What you can use the call for:
- Ask anything you need to know!
- Get important, reliable resources for whatever you need
- You can design a Next Actions plan for building the life of your dreams!
- Create Learning Plan so you can begin powerfully
- Feel supported