Ok, I lied, he didn’t, but bear with me while I explain :-)
In an earlier post I mentioned my interest in ‘burly republican* motivational speakers’ and said I would explain myself at a later date! So, here I am - not really explaining myself – more like elaborating on the topic. Disclaimer* I neither know nor care if AR is a republican...lol
Anyway, back on topic. Call it personal development/self-help/what you will – it’s a subject that gets a lot of flack. And I can see why, one can’t help but think that a lot of the people in the field simply have a little bit of information and a lot of balls and are out to make a buck on other people’s insecurities. Perhaps so, but recently I have stumbled accross a few gems of wisdom. It with more than a little embarrassment that I admit to be in the midst of reading Tony Robbins’ Awaken the Giant Within (blush internally). I’m not sure how it is on the other side of the Atlantic, but in Europe we can be a little cynical about self-improvement and even when we indulge in it, it’s often on the sly, secretly beavering away only to suddenly appear before friends saying ‘diet? what diet?’, ‘I had no idea I could be up for promotion...’. We are very modest I think :-) And perhaps this is just me being cynical too.
So back to ATGW... I got to the bit in the book about breaking bad habits and was about to skip through it. ‘Bad habits, I thought smugly....well, I don’t really have any’. I'm sure my friends are doing a lot of eye rolling right now- lol. Yes I have plenty of negative traits (an awful sense of direction for example) but as for habits? These sections of such books always go on about people who can’t stop eating, who can’t stop smoking, who can’t stop whatever. And I have some weird and kind of lucky self-control thing which means it’s hard for me to get addicted to food or anything else. Then it occurred to me. My bad habits are the things I don’t do, rather than the things I do. For as long as I can remember I’ve been messy at home. Big deal you might say, but it really affected me, as quite unusually for a messy person, I ABSOLTELY HATE MESS! ‘Then tidy up you lazy ass!' I hear the people cry. But I found it near on impossible, just like the person that can’t say no to that extra slice of cake or who can’t get off their butts to do some exercise. I would have done anything (and I mean almost anything) rather than get out the broom. Of course things would get on top of me after a few weeks and I’d have a big ‘blitz’, but then, much like the crash-dieter, following this, the cycle would begin again and I’d revert to my old ways.
So in comes Tony Robbins. Using quite simple methods in the past month I’ve gone from messy Merghani (that’s my surname) to Martha Stewart. Well, not really. But honestly, my house has not been so pristine since God knows when and best of all I’m finding it virtually effortless to keep it that way. His basic principle seems ridiculously basic – you need to get leverage against the habit and for the new behaviour. You have to very very graphically think of all the things you stand to lose by indulging in the undesired behaviour (try to think of exaggerated far reaching negative effects and a LOT of them) – so in my case I would picture myself feeling horrible, unable to find my stuff, unable to invite people round without prior notice so it affected my social life, embarrassment if my family came round, what if one day I had kids and I couldn’t keep the house tidy?? I thought of all kinds of disasterous scenarios. Then you think of everything you have to gain: so I pictured impromtu dinner parties with friends, some of my more expensive pieces of furniture would finally be seen instead of covered in piles of paper, I imagined that with a new level of organisation at home I would be more likely to cook decent meals better which in turn would make me look good, and possibly even live longer (Ok, I’m talking major exaggeration here but that’s how it works).
Another step was to think about the kind of person I see myself as and to ask if that negative behaviour was congruent with that type of person. We all see ourselves as types – the funny girl, the intelligent boy and it’s important for our identity and confidence that we reflect that persona on every level. For example, I like to wear good clothes and generally I’m well-presented and style matters to me. And why not admit it here, I like a bit of glamour. Now would such a person have a messy disorganised home? I think not.
And here’s one final technique, which I think is a really obvious but simple one. Get in the mood. It’s hard to get motivated when you feel below par. So think back to all the things that make you feel good – in my case this is listening to pumping dance music :-) But it could easily be spending time with a pet, calling a friend or going for a massage. I think it would be cheating to include something like eating chocolate cake here ;-) So I put on my favourite music while cleaning - something which people have always done but that I never considered.
Using these methods has changed this little aspect of my life, and the knock on effects have been great: I’m cooking nice healthy meals for myself, it felt great when a friend came to my place for the first time the other day and said how cute it was, I can find my (clean) yoga kit in an instant so I'm never late for class, I feel less anxious, the list goes on. It’s only been a month, but for me 3 months is a habit, so if I can keep it up I really think this will be a permanent change. My example might seem like an odd one, but I’m sure the same could be applied to all kinds of nasty habits from nail biting to overeating. Thanks Tony :-)