Posted by Jeff Priestley
I was asked on the radio to talk about habits. Listeners rang in with habits, from biting their nails to still having a comfort blanket in their forties.
I went on to explain that habits have bad press and that's not always the case. Habits are often useful in steering a way around life's little problems, from driving unconsciously to work and arriving safely, to shaking people's hands at an interview or meeting without having to think about it.
Often, however, we think habits are unhelpful when attached to some form of anxiety, perhaps sucking our fingers or playing with our hair which we perceive as communicating our anxiety to others and this may cause them to judge us as weak or not in control.
Of course we tend to learn these habits from our childhood, often in an attempt to comfort ourselves when we find ourselves anxious or worried about something. These strategies to make us feel better often come from the positive options given to us by our parents or carers and range from comforting breastfeeding, dummies and even stroking our hair to calm us as we go through teething or early life illness when we have a temperature.
As we grow we mostly develop other options and strategies, less obvious to our family, friends and work colleagues, to deal with our fears and worries, such as smoking, watching TV or even avoidance of a situation altogether that causes us anxiety.
As a Career Coach the predominant fears that people ask me to help with are " interview anxiety", together with "public speaking", making a presentation, for instance, are some of the situations that most of us experience at some time in our lives and generally are unable to avoid. The fear that our stress habits such as twitches, hand movements or obvious anxious body language will become a blockage in them communicating effectively, preventing them from getting the job or perhaps even "looking a fool" only adds to their anxiety.
Mostly preparation, i.e. practicing the speech or understanding how the interview process works, recognising what questions will be asked, and what questions you should ask often helps gets them in the right frame of mind and reduces anxiety to a manageable level. However on a number of occasions further work needs to be undertaken to reduce or remove the habit associated with the anxiety.
Depending on how severe the habit and length of time that it has been used, we use a number of tools and therapies such as cognitive behaviour therapy, trance state, and timeline therapy to help reduce and often install more positive habits to help the individual move forward.
If you or someone you know is suffering as a result of a negetive habit, please get in touch, lifes too short to be limited in this way.