Six Habit Upgrades that Can Improve Our Lives

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When people speak of self-improvement, they may be thinking about improving the raw material they came into the world with or about creating a better self.

Yet what is the self anyway? Ask 10 people, and you're likely to get 10 different answers.

Practically speaking, self-improvement is about how we do life. It involves trading in negative or ineffective habits for those that work better. We upgrade our habits of thought, communication or behavior so life feels and works better.

Six Habit Upgrades that Allow Life to Work Better

Our habits can be deeply ingrained. Sometimes to change them we need the help of a professional counselor.

  1. Learn to say no.
    Naturally, we all know how to utter the word, “no,” but not all of us can say it when we want to. If we habitually say yes to things because we are afraid to say no, we end up angry with ourselves and resentful toward those we are reluctantly helping.
  2. Be able to express how you feel so others listen.
    If we act out our feelings or blame others for them, they may hear our words or see our actions, but only as threats. To be listened to, we have to take responsibility for our emotions and feelings and convey that.
  3. Choose how to act instead of reacting habitually.
    Our lives were never meant to be governed by our habitual responses to emotion and feeling. Feelings and emotion are important but need to be tempered by our rational, thinking mind. Some philosophies say that where emotions and reason overlap - that is where wisdom lies.
  4. Realize you are not a mind reader.
    Most of us are not gifted with a psychic ability to read peoples' thoughts, yet walk around believing we know what others think about us, and it is usually negative. Actually, people think about themselves most of the time.
  5. Accept your shadows.
    Our shadows are those aspects of ourself, positive or negative, that we dislike, deny, hide, and maybe even hate. The problem is, our dislike or denial does not do away with them. Our shadows are part of the fabric of our being. By accepting them, we bring them into our circle of influence so they no longer act upon us.
  6. Let go of the need to be right.
    If you always have to be right, you can be sure that you either aggravate or wear down those you are in relationship with. What you have not yet realized is that you are lovable and it has nothing to do with the correctness of your knowledge, opinions, or beliefs.

By upgrading our life habits or skills, we do not necessarily improve our self. Instead, we reveal to the world more of our authentic self. This happens because our ineffective behaviors are often adopted at an early age to protect us. By dropping our shields, we become more visible.

Although being more visible to others might sound scary, in our heart of hearts we all want to be seen and acknowledged.

Photo of painter by John Nyboer

 
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