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How To Break Energy-Draining Bad Habits

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

What's covered: Be up to 8x more effective in breaking unhealthy habits that contribute to burn-out, adrenal fatigue & overwhelm; Rewire your brain to be calmer

Woman sitting on chair while leaning on laptop looking exhausted

My partner and I recently listened to a podcast that at first, we wanted to reject.

Initial thoughts: "Really, could that work?"

Then: "Hang on, this could be interesting - and weirdly effective!"

We were listening to best-selling author and entrepreneur Marie Forleo's talk on burnout, adrenal fatigue, overwhelm and this crazy busyness that's become the societal norm. You know what I'm talking about if you've ever...

  • Woken up in the morning and already felt behind, like you're racing to catch up on a day that's only just begun?

  • Checked your to-do list and felt like you're a slave to ticking off the boxes even when it's the last thing you feel like doing?

  • Looked at your bed or couch and wanted to crawl under a blanket - and it's only 8am?

Marie talked about a paradigm shift from continual stress, hustle and time pressure to instead being calm, joyful AND productive. Now for the most important part - HOW? In her talk, Marie introduced two powerful, yet simple words. Those two words are: I don't. For example: I don't do overwhelm. I don't do stressful time pressure. I don't do BS business meetings that have no agenda or end time. ;-) Kind of resistant or sceptical as to how it works? Yeah, we were too, until we realized the potential. There was something about the negative phrasing that initially seemed counter-productive. And then, as it was explained, it started making a lot of sense. Here's the evidence behind this linguistic tool that can help rewire your brain and break unhealthy habits: Dr Vanessa Patrick (Professor of Marketing at the University of Houston) discovered that you're 8x more effective at changing your negative behaviour and resisting the temptation to eat unhealthy foods, when you frame something as a refusal: "I don't" as opposed to "I can't." The cool thing is, it's as equally effective when applied to other areas of your life that are draining or upsetting you: I don't do relationship drama. I don't do judgment of my emotions / body. I don't do emotional surrogacy. I don't do jealousy / guilt. A cringey personal example... Confession: I can have the unhealthy habit of obsessively thinking about my loved ones, especially if they're having a hard time. The empath in me is aware of every little emotional shift or change, the therapist in me wants to analyze their thoughts and provide feedback on their actions (yep, I can be a barrel of fun to live with!) and the healer in me wants to take on their sh*t so they're not in discomfort or pain. A good phrase for me would be: I don't do obsessive thinking / worrying about [fill in the blank]. I can't vs. I don't, another real-life example: My partner is allergic to dairy. So after listening to the talk, we experimented with different phrasing and how the energy of the words felt. I can't eat dairy. (Energy behind the words: limited, powerless, external choice, something that's out of your hands.) I don't do dairy. (Energy behind the words: confident, empowered, strong, matter-of-fact, internal choice based on what's right for you.) That night at dinner, we shared the technique with my teenage stepson. He listened, mulling it over, and then asked: "Yeah, but how bout acknowledging your feelings? Like when you feel anxious." Um, good question, don't you love kids? And it's a fair point too, because we talk a lot about acknowledging feelings in our house. My response was yes, absolutely acknowledge your feelings, e.g. "I'm having the feeling of anxiety." Yet there is a very fine line between consciously acknowledging your feelings versus lamenting, wallowing or obsessing about them. Imagine saying to yourself continually: "I'm so anxious, I'm so anxious. I can't believe how anxious I am. I'm always anxious." Think of how you're wiring your brain with this incessant, repetitive and disempowering self-talk. Instead, acknowledge the feeling or emotion that's coming up, and then simply say: "I don't do anxiety." Better still, dig deeper for what's triggering the anxiety, such as: "I don't do anxiety about not being good enough." Say it again, again and again. Then re-focus your attention in a positive way, such as breathing consciously for 3x breaths or taking action that would better benefit you. Tailor the phrase to suit your life situation and apply it to what's really getting to you at the moment or draining your energy, in your personal life or professional world.

Try it, we will be in our house. For the next few weeks we're going to practise this two-word technique and remind each other of it regularly. Let the rewiring begin! :-)

Keep listening to your body and trusting your wise self,

Lauren x

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