Summary: What is the first step to change your bad habits and live a more fulfilling life? Read on and find out what to do to feel better, be better.
Dear Dr. Sylvia,
I did it again. It doesn’t matter what I did. However, I thought I had changed my awful bad habits, and it just came back today and bit me in the butt.
Most importantly, I ask you, “How long does it take for a new behavior to become automatic?
Bad habits can ruin your career.
I’ll do my best to keep this short. Cause my old bad habits have me go on and on and on.
For example, my biggest problem is that I like to tell jokes. It feels good. I get people to like me by making them laugh.
However, when I go on and on and make people laugh, I keep them captive. Then I think I’m in charge. And being in control is a power position. At least that’s what the self-help books tell me.
Okay. Back to what bad habits I desperately want to kick out of my life.
Above all, It’s about being ACCEPTED.
When you need to be accepted it can become an addiction.
That is to say, I’m resisting the addiction to stop and tell a joke right about now so you will like me.
In other words, I tell jokes to gain approval.
Here’s the short story. I thought I was getting good at not diverting the real issues when meetings get tense. It didn’t work. I now have folks at my company furious with me because of my jokes.
Then I feel guilty. Even though the jokes I told yesterday I thought were hilarious. At least, everyone laughed.
Here is one I told. Let me know what you think.
Jokes can be helpful or irritating depending on the situation
I mentioned that someone I know was bitching about hair salons not being open during Covid. I responded with,
“Look, the only ones who think liquor stores were more important to stay open rather than hair salons are bald alcoholics.”
The executive team laughed and then wanted to get back to a very tough issue that had to get handled.
I did it again.
I told another joke. And I got a text from the top honcho asking me to call her after the meeting.
Repeat bad habits and watch how others react by distancing from you.
I got reamed on the carpet (I’m resisting another joke here). My boss told me to cut the annoying marks in the meetings.
I can’t stop. It truly is an addiction for attention.
I know you are known for helping people change bad habits.
What am I missing, and what do you suggest?
It takes effort to change bad habits into positive ones.
Dear Mighty Tired,
It sounds like you want a quick answer to a long-standing issue.
Just know that all bad habits were not created equal.
For instance, some bad habits started when you were a kid. Others began in adolescence from peer pressure. Bad habits can also creep up in adulthood. Unfortunately, many of us are handed outdated patterns and habits without our permission from generations past.
There is a way OUT of deep-seated negative patterns.
In the same vein, discussing generational trauma and how we get hand-me-down patterns and habits from the past is a significant part of my book “Don’t Bring It To Work.” Most importantly, I suggest you get a copy to help you change what may be more than just your bad habits.
Moreover, the good news is when you stop skirting the issue and get down to what is driving your behavior, you can change what no longer works for you.
Let’s take a look at your behavior pattern of being a clown in staff meetings. I have a sense it is because when there is tension in a room. I guess you have to be the one to take over with a joke to decrease the stress.
Does this sound like you?
The clown pattern transforms to become the humorist.
In addition, right now, stress is over the top for most of us. A good laugh can help. However, there is something else to consider.
More than you wanting to be accepted, there is something else. I believe you want to make people feel better during these challenging times.
Let’s look at that caring part of you rather than the part of you that is needy.
Find helpful ways to make a difference: observe how others react to you.
You want to help. That, dear Mighty Tired, is good.
Focus on the positive rather than see yourself as a hungry baby needing approval; know that you want to help.
Keep that in your mind as I guide you to begin the project of diminishing the clown pattern.
First, begin to observe yourself. Take small steps.
Pivot by taking small steps.
When everything in you wants to tell another joke, bite your lip, scribble on a pad of paper, tap your fingers on your knee, pinch your arm. Do anything to keep from telling jokes during times full of conflict and tension.
Start a journal. Note how hard it is to keep your mouth shut when stress hits the hot button. Jot down how you feel when you see the team squirm in discomfort, making tough decisions.
I have an educated guess that as you were growing up, you were the one to jump in with jokes to ease whatever upset was in the family.
That was good and caring. You have to redesign the how and when of your jokes.
Develop patterns for success.
You may want to get a copy of THE PATTERN AWARE SUCCESS GUIDE which will guide you for 90 days of pattern transformation.
Keep the goal in front of you. The change will take months, not days. This Guide will help you train your brain to behave the way you want.
Success means taking the long view.
Please remember, changing bad habits is a process, not a single event.
Then call me with some funny jokes. It would help if you didn’t lose your talent as a clown. I want to help you become more of a humorist who can tell a joke at the right time.
And just so you know, I love what you said about hair salons and liquor stores. It made me laugh.
Here’s to your success,
Are you ready to break out of bad habits and fix your work relationships? My new book, “Invisible STRESS (It’s NOT What YOU Think!),” is about making your work-life more successful.