Thought Habits to Make Action Easier

by Rachel Miller

April 29, 2022

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Often our thoughts oppose us. When we set out to do something, our emotions, bodies, and minds groan and complain. It’s like we constantly have to reassure ourselves that it will be OK. Our thoughts and feelings frequently don’t make things easier; they just remind us of the difficulty we already know we have to face.

Consider another way of thinking:

  • Use thoughts to your advantage. Use them as a way to bolster motivation, not discourage it.

  • Identify a common activity that you frequently find difficult. Perhaps, it’s getting up in the morning:
    • Notice every morning the familiar pattern of thoughts that arise: alarm goes off, initial thought: “ugh, I’m too tired,” instinctive action: hit snooze.
    • Just observe the pattern, then notice how you feel when you get up. Perhaps, you still feel exhausted, but when you’re washing your face, you start to feel better. Make mental note of this. Observe the familiar pattern: when you do X, you feel Y, but then when you do Z, you feel better.

  • Develop a habitual thought to recite to yourself for next time as a reminder of what to expect, then recite this to yourself next time you experience X. Example:
    • Alarm goes off
    • Thought cue: “ugh, I’m too tired”
    • Insert thought: “you always feel this way. You always feel better after Z”

  • Reminding yourself of the familiar and expected pattern of what you experience lowers the fear, the hesitancy around it. Reminding yourself of it’s temporary nature and reminding yourself how you feel better lowers inhibition. It gives you motivation–however small–to get up and move anyway.

  • Use the cue of hesitant thoughts to create habitual thoughts. Thoughts that make it easier to act in line with what you want for yourself, what satisfies most, and help you feel more in command of what you want and confident in your ability to make that happen for yourself.

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