Surprising Ways Your Feelings Impact Your Habits

Have you ever noticed how your feelings can affect your daily habits? For example, if you grew up in a home where your parents always argued, you may develop a fear of relationships. You may think it is perfectly normal for adults to argue constantly. If you have been surrounded by money issues, then this subject can always make you fearful or angry.

A habit is just a set of steps that you repeatedly do. Habits are affected by negative feelings and thoughts. A child may grow up expecting that they will never have enough money. Because of this, they don’t bother taking steps to have enough money, They accept that they won’t have money when they are older instead of learning how to save or budget,

The point here is not to let your negative feelings affect your efforts into trying to make changes.

How Do Thoughts and Emotions Affect Health?

Your thoughts and emotions can affect your health, and it’s important to recognize and be aware of the effect they have—not only on each other, but also on our bodies, behavior, and relationships.

Being emotionally healthy does not mean you should be happy all the time. It merely means that you are aware of your emotions and can deal with them, whether they are positive or negative. Emotionally healthy people still feel stress, anger, and sadness. However,  they know how to manage their negative feelings.

Feelings become unhealthy when they are excessive, irrational, ongoing, distressing, or begin interfering with your daily life.

First, you have to understand what it is you want out of life. Do you want to own your first home, have a happy marriage, or go to college?

How do I get better habits?

Whatever your goal is, write it down and then figure out the steps you need to achieve this. How much money you need for a down payment for a home, for example. Then start thinking good thoughts about your choice. Be positive that you will save enough for your down payment. That you will get accepted into the college of your choice, or find the person of your dreams.

Now that you have a plan of action, you need to form the habits to achieve your goals. Your plan can include learning how to put money aside weekly. Or it might involve taking a night class so you can get accepted to college.

As you start doing these things repeatedly, they will become part of your daily routine and will form a habit. Before you know it, you will be saving regularly without thinking twice.

Losing weight requires the forming of new habits. You need to eat smaller portions of healthier food to achieve your weight loss goals. You may have already tried to lose weight unsuccessfully. This usually happens because your mindset is not positive. You may think that you will never lose those 20 pounds or that you will still feel the same as you do now. If you can move past these negative feelings and turn them into positive ones, your chances of success will improve. Start thinking about how great you will feel when you can fit into that little black dress again.

So if you aren’t that happy with your current life, start working on changing the way you feel about yourself and others. This small change of mind can lead to considerable improvements in your life.

The key to unlocking new habits is Feelings-Follow-Behavior.

A clear pattern emerges when you don’t follow through on your planned behavior. It’s called it the No-Follow-Through Cycle.

Here’s what the No-Follow-Through Cycle looks like (feelings guiding habits):

  • You set a goal, intention, or resolution. (“I’m going to wake up on my first alarm.”).
  • An opportunity would arise to do said thing. (*The alarm goes off*).
  • In-the-moment you don’t feel like doing what you are supposed to do.
  • You don’t do it.
  • You feel frustrated about not changing your behavior. (And confusion about what to do differently.)
  • The cycle repeats.

This is because of the behavior-feelings misunderstanding.  You have to understand how thoughts, feelings, and behavior work together.

Feelings Follow Behavior

Feelings follow behavior.  This means that instead of waiting to feel a certain way before acting, you can act as a way of creating that feeling for your future self.

Your behavior has a direct impact on your feelings. When you do something, you feel different for having done it.

  • So instead of framing it as Thought —> Feeling —> Behavior
  • A more effective framing is Thought —> Behavior —> Feeling!
  • First, you have a thought that you want to do something.
  • Then, you act on that intention.
  • And that leads to you feeling a certain way.
  • Simply taking action CREATES the feeling you thought you needed to act in the first place.
  • This is true for anything worth doing:
  • I might not FEEL like meditating, but after sitting for 20 minutes, I’m more grounded and clear-headed
  • I might not FEEL like getting a tough workout in, but I’m more energized and powerful after doing so
  • I might not FEEL like writing, but I am enriched and satisfied after going through the creative process
  • I might not FEEL like waking up early my alarm goes off, but I feel great about seizing the day after doing so
  • I might not FEEL like taking a proactive break from work, but I’m always fresher and more effective afterward

Understanding that feelings follow behavior means you don’t have to take your in-the-moment self so seriously.

And in doing so, you can focus on making choices that align with your high-level values and priorities.

Empathy for Your Future Self

Another way to think about this is you are having empathy for your future self.

Having empathy for your future self means making decisions in the present that benefit you in the future. Every time you do this, it’s like giving your future self a present!

Future you is always grateful when present-you makes choices that align with your values and priorities.

When considering choices in the moment, you have two options:

Let your smaller-self, who doesn’t see the big-picture, choose by asking, “Do I feel like doing this right now?”

Have your higher-self, who is grounded in what you care about most, choose by asking, “How would future-me feel after doing this?”

Sustained positive feelings after doing something indicate that the behavior enriches your life. If that’s the case, it’s probably connected with the things that you value.

Making choices with your future self in mind creates a link between your high-level values and your in-the-moment decisions. It gives you the power to overcome fickle in-the-moment feeling states in favor of expressing your highest-self.

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