I Wish I Could Stop Doing This

Do you ever find yourself doing something, thinking something, eating something, etc. and think "I wish I could stop doing this"?

At the purest essence, this is your inner self wanting to take care of you.

As it's thought and felt, the message can get distorted in a negative way, such as self-loathing, guilt or hurt, etc. However, if you accept that these thoughts are good for you and view them with a positive eye, you will develop the ability to harness their power. And, believe me, they are extremely powerful. Allowing these triggers to promote self-growth will aid you in developing a more productive, positive and emotionally rich life. Imagine that.

Below are some basic steps to alter your behavior. For best results, only focus on one behavior at a time until all steps are complete.

Start off with clarity

To begin, you need to choose the area of your life where you will put your focus. Although, your mind may be swimming with a myriad of areas needling at you, urging for a change, and possibly multiplied by every flaw you have in that area also begging for attention, this is the time to zero in on "the one".

Do you need to start with a simple one so that you will not quit? Do you need to be very challenged to keep interest and must choose a hard one? What issue comes up often or causes unsatisfactory feelings? Everyone is different, so doing this step will give you insight on what makes you tick and where your focus deserves to be.

Define and refine "the change"

Wishing you could will only get you so far, and it's not very far at all. Once you have identified the area of change where you will put your focus, it's time to put the spotlight called your awareness on it so you can see it, I mean really see it--from every side, behind every shadow, etc.

First, take your area of change and put it into a sentence like the title of this post. Then, write it several ways like the example below.

I wish I could stop doing this.
(replace "doing this" with your own specific area of change)

I wish I would stop _______.

I will stop ______.

You will see that, although each way is only a bit different in sentence form, each is drastically different in how it affects our motivation and tolerance levels. Human nature can be fickle like that! How we choose to define one word or phrase may define the overall change as achievable or not from the start. Does it strike you as amazing that a simple word switch or two in our thoughts will have that much impact on deciding the entire outcome? It does to me.

Now that you've defined your change in a more constructive way, a more positive way, it's time to refine it.

Is it too vague? Will nearly every person who hears what your change is know what you mean? Do you even know exactly what you want? If not, tighten the focus so you can see what you're aiming at more clearly.

How real is it? Meaning, how bad do you want it? Are you doing this for yourself and not another? This is where the rubber meets the road. If you are expecting the change to deliver more than it possible can, you will be setting yourself up for disappointment. And, if you are not doing this for you, similar disappointment will surely follow. Make this real to you, want it for you, and nothing else matters.

Does it have a clear end? Success will depend on whether or not you know what the end looks like and can tell if you've gotten there.

Develop the steps to your end result

To start any change in our behavior, you need to create an end result in your mind that is so incredibly strong that you can see it, feel it and maybe even taste, smell or hear it. During the process, this end result has to stay in your conscious mind so that you can savor what you are creating and to tell yourself "I'm almost there".

Finally, and most importantly in my opinion, we must identify what we think needs to happen to get us from here to there. This is no different than getting directions to your destination when driving, cooking something for dinner, etc. The difference this time is you are determining action steps to take that, one after the other, will get you to your desired end result. Some may call these "mini goals" or "checkpoints" or "success stops" (that's what I call them :-).

Viewing achievement of the end result as the only indicator of success or failure is, well, thinking too simple. There is a lot of life to live that can quite possibly get in our way between here and there. Defining success stops gives us many opportunities to celebrate victory or to have a clean start after a demoralizing effort. It also breaks up a goal that seems so huge it casts a shadow into smaller molehills. As long as we don't make a mountain out of any of the molehills, the end result will feel distinctly more attainable, easier and worth pursuing.

In addition, while working through the steps of action we will take, it will be possible to see pitfalls that we may encounter. That will be very important, as you will see below.

You've gotten ready, now get set

The last step before beginning, is to set up your life to minimize conflicts, thereby increasing your chance at success. While you prepared yourself mentally for the action steps you'd soon be taking, what did you notice that could stop you?

For some, it could be an unsupportive or demoralizing person who has influence on your life. Now is the time to reconcile that person's influence and, for this goal at least, to grow yourself to realize that this person's influence does not matter. You will not let it matter.

Or maybe you are unsure about beginning because you don't think you have time in your day to add one more thing. I just read something pretty wise by Corey of Simple Marriage on a guestpost called "How to Find More Time During the Day":

What if we replaced time focus with energy? Instead of looking at the day as a block of time, look at it as a finite amount of energy...You only have so much energy each day for the things in life.

If you displace energy on the immediate concerns rather than core priorities, life can be very chaotic and scattered...When you live life more in line with your core values, more energy for life is harnessed.


A brilliant, well thought-out plan is completely useless if it is not allowed to influence your life. Now is the time for you to stop thinking about, and start bringing about, this worthwhile change.

Go for it! Define and refine the area of your life that you will focus on changing. Develop the action steps you'll need to do to get you from here to there. Use awareness that you've gained about positive pitfalls that could stop you while taking steps towards your end result. All the while telling yourself, "I'm almost there!"

Until next time...Take Care Of You!

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Join the Discussion!

Wilma Ham said...

Hi Suzanne.
For me to change I need support, I cannot do it alone. Alone I start to question myself, my reasoning, and I lose trust that it will ever happen.
When I am lovingly encouraged it becomes a different ball game and I have far more chances to succeed.

Recent blog:=- Ann-Marie on Answering questions truthfully

Suzanne Sergis said...

Hmm, very interesting. I am so independent that, until you mentioned it, I didn't consider another perspective of needing that support. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Wilma!

P.S. Please tell Ann-Marie great job on the Answering Questions post. I had a bit of an "aha" moment when I read "no one actually asked Wilma any questions to further their understanding of the situation".

Miche - Serenity Hacker said...

Wow Suzanne! I loved this! You'v hit on some really practical, human things we need to consider to make changes. First, I like how you mention that we're really trying to take care of ourselves, we're just doing it on autopilot and not in the right way. For me, I need the simple step first, the focus on one thing that's not soooo challenging (or at least I have to frame it in a way that it's not so challenging).

One of the things I do in order to do this is a writing exercise like you've mentioned. I start off vague, like this "If I were taking better care of myself I would...." then I fill in the blanks with all the things I can come up with. Usually that shows me the one or two (and they are often related) things I should be working on. Sometimes my list says I'd be eating healthier foods, I'd be exercising more, etc. Then I know it's my health that I need to attend to. So then I make another list. "If I were eating healthier I would...." then I fill in that list. I usually come up that I food shop more, take more time to do food prep, eat out less, stop skipping meals, incorporate more fruits and veggies into each meal, etc. That's how I get my plan. It seems to work better for me to phrase it in a hypothetical way for some reason....

Thank you for sharing your insights on the process of change, and on the things we "wish" we were doing. I really enjoyed reading this, and you've inspired me. Time for me to make a new list!!

Thanks so much!
Miche :)

Recent blog:=- 3 Keys to Emotional Serenity

Suzanne Sergis said...

Hi Miche. I'm grateful to read your enthusiasm on the topic. Thanks so much for sharing it!

Funny how you mention the difference in motivation between thinking about it hypothetically vs. more directly. Interesting how some of our minds do work like that!

Have fun creating your new list.

Wilma Ham said...

Thank you, I will tell her, it took come courage to mention it, but hey how else do we become aware.

Ann Marie Fagan said...

Hi there Suzanne,
I'm definitely with Wilma on this one. The only way that I am bringing about change to live my life differently is by having sponsors. Wilma is one of those people for me. She only listens to me as me and ignores my negative self talk or matyrdom. And it helps me tremendously to work things out as I 'define and redefine change'
Taking what you've said here and having sponsorship to do it is definitely a recipe for success.
Thanks for your comment about the Answering Questions post. I think there were many of us who had an 'aha' moment there. Where was the listening? Huum

Recent blog:=- Ann-Marie on Intimacy on Blogs

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