The power of habits and how they shape your life.

Have you ever stopped and thought about your morning routine and asked yourself why you do things in the same sequence every day?
Get out of bed, shower, make a coffee, read the paper over breakfast, brush your teeth, rush out the door and begin the commute to work.
You might think that it’s just common hygiene to have a shower and brush your teeth each morning (which it is, by the way!) but the order in which you do things, not just before work, but throughout your whole day, is entirely shaped by habit.
You can read more about how habits are formed here .
A habit isn’t a conscious action. It’s a natural response to an emotional trigger. Habits don’t just apply to your before-work routine, habits extend into every area of your life.
If you think that habits only include stereotypical actions such as smoking, biting your fingernails and eating with your mouth open, then think again, because habits shape your whole life! Here’s three key areas where the power of habits impacts your everyday life.
1) The way you treat people.
I’m going to use the example of children here because it’s one that I think we can all relate to.
If you’re consistently over-strict with your kids, even if they might not deserve it, at some stage or another, you’ve become hard-wired to respond this way. If noisy children always cause you unjustified irritation and you find yourself snapping at every foot that’s put slightly out of line, your response to those kids is a habit.
Similarly, if you’re really soft on them when they step well and truly OVER the line and they need discipline, this is also a habit. Both are responses based on what you’ve always done rather than assessing and responding appropriately to the situation that’s in front of you.
Obviously, this over strict or too lenient response may have an impact on your children in later life but parenting style isn’t my issue here.
My issue is that we learn how to respond to people based on the way we always have done before. You might be jealous, lenient, snappy or emotional when it’s uncalled for, merely because you’re acting out of habit.
Think about how you typically react to a common situation, and if your responses aren’t necessarily warranted, you might just have formed the habit.
2) The way you feel.
Have you ever been through a phase where you had a partner who pushed the boundaries too much and you just accepted it? Or perhaps you’re jealous of your partner’s friendships rather than happy that they have interests outside of your relationship.
All habits.
The way you feel when you’re put in certain situations might not always be the right way, it might not always make you feel good, and it might not always be warranted.
Regardless of that, your feelings all stem from the habit of responding with those feelings in the past. Your brain no longer assesses each situation on its own merits and decides how you should respond, it’s hard wired to act the way it always has done.
3) The way you approach challenges.
Let’s face it, nobody gets through life without having a few curveballs lobbed their way. How you approach those challenges and hurdles is also something shaped by habit.
Whether you’re methodical, avoid what’s on your plate, or you straight up panic and charge at your issue like a bull in a china shop, is all based on how you’ve previously responded to those situations and your brain is just doing what it knows to do.
Now, this is all just the tip of the iceberg on habits but even with these three examples, you can already see how habits can shape your personality, your future, and have a significant impact on every aspect of your life.
But, the good news is that you can break those habits which are holding you back, and you can replace them with new habits. It’s entirely possible to change your habits to start reacting and responding to situations in different ways, and with that, change the whole course of the rest of your life.
Change the way you think and you’ll change the way you act and do. Now, who’s excited about that thought?

Tracey Burns
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