In his classical story The Little Prince by author Antoine De Saint-Exupery, the Little Prince does two things each morning on his planet. First, he waters his rose. He takes care of what is most important to him.
Then he digs out the baobabs (bad habits). Although they resemble rosebushes when they are little, baobabs can eventually grow so large that they would destroy the Little Prince’s small planet.
Baobabs, or negative mental habits, can creep into our lives without warning or our ability to see it happen. Cindy Lias is a special education teacher at Vermillion Middle School. After reading our message on the Power of Habits two weeks ago, she sent us the following email: “So true! Thanks for sharing! It is another ‘No Whine Wednesday’. It is 6:30 AM & I already caught myself with a negative thought. Need to change my mind set before being in contact with people. Trying to make positive thoughts a habit & kick the negativity habit.”
Like the Little Prince, Cindy was prompted to dig up the baobabs on her planet…and everyone she meets will benefit from her efforts.
What can we do to prevent baobabs from overtaking our planet? What can we do to make sure Negative Mental Habits don’t govern our lives? First, like the Little Prince and Cindy, we need to spot them. We need to be aware when they start to grow in our selves…the sooner the better. Full blown Negative Mental Habits are more difficult to eradicate.
Once recognized, we need to minimize our negative mental habits. Top 20s do this by:
1. ‘Living’ Above the Line. By doing so, they develop Positive Mental Habits. Because Top 20s only ‘visit’ Below the Line for short amounts of time, baobabs don’t get enough attention to thrive.
2. ‘Linking’ positive actions to negative feelings.
A. Our behavior or actions are linked to our emotions.
EMOTION -> ACTION
B. Our negative emotions often link to negative actions. If we allow this to continue, our negative actions become habits that flow from those emotions.
NEGATIVE EMOTION -> NEGATIVE ACTION
C. But we can recognize that we have the Power of Choice. We can choose to link a positive action to a negative emotion.
NEGATIVE EMOTION -> POSITIVE ACTION
D. For example, one of our negative emotions is needing to be right. That negative feeling has often been linked to negative actions: not listening, judging, arguing, challenging. However, we can link positive actions to that negative emotion. When we feel the need to be right, we can choose to be curious and listen. By practicing this positive action, being curious and listening become habits even though our desire to be right still occurs.
NEED TO BE RIGHT -> BE CURIOUS + LISTEN
When we operate this way, not only do we have a better experience, but so do all the other people we meet on our planet that day.
Here is a partial list of things that can become negative habits:
Anger Judgmental Grudges Sarcasm
Self-centered Jealousy Apathy Boredom
Procrastination Pessimism Worry Self-doubt
Mean Irresponsible Fear Disorganized
Impatient Unmotivated Unfocused Controlling
Perfectionism Needing to be right Blame Dishonest
Pick one or two that you see beginning to establish roots in you. Link them to a positive action so that the habits you are developing will result in more desirable experiences and relationships.
Best wishes from our Top 20 team…Kevin Brennan, Willow Sweeney, and Tom Cody…who keep watering my rose and digging up my baobabs.
Top 20 Training