Years ago, I started writing everything down. I’ve always been one to scribble. On sticky notes and scratch pads, in notebooks and journals—even on my bathroom mirror. My drawers, closets, and keepsake boxes are littered with notes-to-self, affirmations, letters, and written accounts of some of my most notable experiences.
During one particular period, I was very intentional about writing down my thoughts. I watched them like a hawk and listened for any clues that could explain why, despite having achieved some level of success, I was still manifesting certain unwanted relationships and experiences. It didn’t take long for me to find the culprit. Turns out I had a kind of “Negative Nelly” hanging out with me. This nagging voice inside was feeding me self-doubt and causing me to second-guess my decisions.
Words really do matter. They have power. And I truly believe they create the future conditions of our experiences. Most of us are familiar with the sayings be careful what you wish for, watch what you say, and life and death are in the power of the tongue. Well, time, experience, and wisdom have shown me the truth in these statements.
I discovered these negative thoughts were cancelling out the positive ones I’d worked so hard to cultivate. By giving them my attention, they became habitual thoughts that materialized into things and experiences. Today I am more attentive to my thoughts than ever, and it’s a seemingly never-ending battle: Me against a world that wants me to believe that I am anything but a Queen and a child of God.
When attempting to change any habitual behavior or thought, persistence is key. It must become part of our regular, everyday practice. Like anything we want to master—or even be good at—we must practice, practice, practice, and be impeccable with our words. The messages we receive through media and elsewhere are also extremely powerful and can validate even the smallest of negative thoughts if we are not careful. So Stay Woke!
Changing a habit can be difficult to accept and even more difficult to initiate. For example, admittedly, I have a strong—almost obsessive—relationship to being the “on-time friend.” If you tell me dinner is starting at 6pm, I’m there at 5:55 and expect dinner to be served shortly because you said what you said, and I believed you! In reality, this has little to do with you and more to do with my emotional attachment to “not being late.” My father was in the military, and he had always demonstrated and stressed to us the importance of being on time growing up. So, I learned to identify being late with letting my father down.
That belief is part of the fabric of how I am, but it doesn’t need to be who I am. Being on time happens to be one habit that has served me well in life, business, and throughout my career, so I’ll hold onto it. We are all creatures of habit, some good and some not so good. It’s the not-so-good ones that keep us from moving forward, achieving our goals, and ultimately living the life we desire and deserve.
If you were to try to build a new house on an old, faulty foundation using decaying wood and rusty nails, termites and rotting materials would eventually compromise the new structure and bring your beautiful home crashing down. It is necessary to take the steps to identify what of the old structure will compromise the integrity of the new and start working to change those things first. Whether starting a workout plan or changing—and sticking to—a healthy diet, kicking unhealthy habits requires powerful shifts in our thoughts, our words, and our choices.
Challenging yourself to change these old habits is neither a judgement nor condemnation of your current lifestyle or way of thinking because, in truth, we come by most of it honestly. It is simply a call for you to examine the things that may not be serving your highest, most successful, beautiful, and excellent self, and to discover how you can better be in control of allowing—or disallowing—those things into your experience. If you put your mind to it, if you even think about doing it, you can do it!
But be on your guard. Here are habits that stand in the way of progress:
1. Procrastination, hesitation, excuses (waiting for the right time, money or convenient circumstance)
2. Thinking/ speaking negatively and engaging in gossip
3. Trying to do, be, and have it all at the same time (the Superwoman Complex)
4. Impatience: wanting something before it’s time (the sprint vs. marathon approach)
When you change your mind, you change your habits. When you change your habits, you change your life! Write it down on paper and “make it plain” in a way that resonates. Make it make sense for you. The voice you should be able to trust more than any other is your own. That is why it’s important for you to make it your life’s mission to protect your self-perception at all costs. Trust in yourself, and others will trust in you. Believe in yourself, and others will believe in you. When you show up for yourself consistently, you’ll be better equipped to deal with old negative thoughts and to put stagnating habits and words in their place: Out of the way.
What words, thoughts, and behaviors are bringing you unwanted results—personally, professionally, or both? What are some ways you can change or distance yourself from those behaviors?