Imagine if you did everything right. Every good habit that you think will lead to success became automatic. You did everything, from that productive morning routine to the new healthy diet. You developed laser focus towards your work and made breakthroughs.
You never lose your motivation. Instead, this time the changes you make, stay. You don’t return to your bad habits and the slippery slope of self-sabotage is no more. With no negative loops and only good actions, how would your life change?
To achieve this fantasy is why people follow self-help. It’s the reason the self-help industry is expected to reach $13.2 Billion by 2022. Our hunger for hacks and tricks to change our life is insatiable. I am not against knowledge, we should all know how to improve our lives. The problem is when you think that the lack of knowledge that is keeping you from success.
Despite knowing every self-help concept, you are waiting for a new article or video that will change your life. That’s why you clicked on this blog as well. However, at the risk of exposing myself, it’s the same information represented in a newer way. The same problem of unconscious living is given exotic names like limiting beliefs or autopilot life. The same solution to productivity is converted into newer rules, 3-second hack or dopamine detox.
The problem is not that you have a lack of information. Neither is there a perfect article waiting for you that will finally change your life. Your only problem is your inability to implement the information. Following through, being consistent with good habits and a lack of willpower is what you suffer with. And why can’t you implement?
It depends on a lot of factors. Your emotional states, limiting-beliefs, self-esteem and so on. This difference between the internal is why only some people are able to improve their lives while the rest fail. If you want an upward growth curve in your life and not run in circles, you need to do some inner-work.
1. Look Inwards: Why Are You Not Doing it?
Your biggest enemy is you. The sugary food isn’t to blame for making you fat. The market that isn’t to blame for not buying your products. Nor is it people around you or life that is being unfair. The only thing to blame is your lack of self-control. Your inability to make the right choices is the culprit.
Where does this inability come from? The answer to that question is different for everyone. But the basic structure of how it happens is the same. All your bad choices are a result of your brain’s wiring.
Let’s say you set a goal to eat healthily. You have planned your meals and calculated the calories. You are following your new diet and there is no question of relapsing. But the old beliefs that lie in your unconscious don’t match with your new actions. They say things like — “I am fat and ugly” “I don’t deserve to feel good about myself”.
Now, your brain makes habits based on the Hebbian law. It states that the neurons that fire together, wire together. Psychologist Robert Taibbi says that certain emotions are linked to certain actions. For example, anxiety with junk food or boredom with porn. Firing one emotion (anxiety or boredom) will trigger the other action (binge-eating or porn).
Similarly, your limiting beliefs convert into negative self-talk they trigger a certain emotional state. Your feelings of self-hate and doubt will trigger the wired action that would result in you eating a bag of Cheetos. This wiring acts like a rubber-band pulling you back every time you try to move forward. You can only go so far before you relapse. This is the science behind self-sabotage.
How to fix your wiring? By being conscious and aware. And this is what I call inner-work and will give tools for it in the next point. When you become aware of these negative patterns about yourself, they start to lose their power.
2. Inner-Work: Internal Change Over External
Most people’s goals are based on the external situation. They want to always change something that is physical and tangible. Something that is outside of them like looks or financial situation. There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve your circumstances.
The problem is when you only act externally without any regard for the internal action. Your idea of improvement is based on external action “If only I did 10 more sales calls” or “If only I exercised 1-hour longer” This type of attitude is what’s keeping you from success. You think you aren’t pushing yourself enough and that’s the reason you fail. But people are already doing what you want to and still failing. They are making those sales calls or exercising more hours without any result.
This time take a different approach. Instead of acting outwards, start acting inwards. Only when you make a change in your state of mind, can an external change happen. Don’t do more sales calls but change your emotional state from desperation to abundance. Don’t exercise more, take care of your emotional triggers and eat less.
Your results are always determined by your state of mind. As you are reading this, are you feeling resistant or relaxed? Is this information making you uncomfortable? If you are resistant then you will still believe the answer is in working more. Even if you agree on the surface, in the back of your mind, you will still focus on pushing yourself. And then say this article didn’t work.
That’s what you have done with every article. Information is a seed but without a good environment (mental-state), it’s useless. Your mental states are like soil, air, water, light all need to be in the right amount, to make a true change.
How do you change your state of mind? By looking within, here are the two tools that have worked for me.
- Journaling: Whenever tense, make it a habit to write what you are feeling. It will not only make you feel lighter but process the hidden feelings that lie in your unconscious. It will unwire those negative loops and give you more control over your choices. If nothing comes to mind, some good questions to inquire about are: “Why don’t I deserve success?” “Why can’t I work easy?” “How would the best version of me deal with this?”
- Mindfulness: Every time you feel stressed, you escape. You either grab that snack or escape into Netflix for hours. Do something different this time, sit there and be with yourself. Between good action and bad action, this is the third choice that you have. Almost like an active meditation where you accept and explore the discomfort. “Why do you feel this?” “Why do you need to get rid of this?”
These two are based on Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. The more you get aware of your inner-turmoil the more control you have. Even if you do this for even 5-minutes before every craving or bad habit, you will see a change. Soon, you will unload your emotional baggage and make better neural connections.
How would the best version of you show up? This is the goal of our inner-work, to become more like that version. It’s not a change in your appearance but a change in your state of mind. It’s not about acting more but acting from a different place. When you act not out of guilt and self-hate but out of self-love and compassion, your life will change.
When I started my business, during the first six months I posted videos every single day. It wasn’t something I enjoyed but forced myself to do. I was on the brink of being broke and I hated my Janitor job. I wanted my external situations to change. In those six-months, despite uploading daily, nothing happened. I didn’t make any more nor did I build an audience.
It was only in the next six months, I started to break-through. I went from being desperate for clients to running a six-figure business. How? I slowed down. Instead of acting from compulsion, I acted from ease. I tried to make the process of recording video fun. Only when I was being the best me and having fun was my work received well.
So in the end, I ask you again, how would the best version of you act?
The Mini Post-Grad Survival Guide
A 5-day email course with tips on budgeting, investing, and productivity for 20-somethings. Sign up for free.