‘Everything you think, feel and do is a collection of learnt habits, and you’ll continue living a life
designed by someone else, feeling increasingly dissatisfied and uncomfortable, until you decide to break the cycle,’ says wellness coach Haifa Barbari. ‘But the good news is that new habits can be kick- started in as little as 18 days.’
1. NURTURE YOUR SELF-ESTEEM
Healthy self-esteem is very important for your adult life, but if past setbacks dented yours, it may seem difficult to attain now. ‘You have to remind yourself daily of your value and self-worth,’ says Haifa. ‘When you show yourself the love you seek, you teach others how to love you too.’
✣ DO IT ‘Even when others emphasise and exploit your weaknesses, imagine turning their volume down,’ says Jeremy. ‘Spend time and energy maximising your strengths because that’s where your enjoyment and confidence will come from.’ If you’re an ace gardener or swimmer, for example, recognise and nurture that talent.
2. DITCH YOUR INNER CRITIC
Was positive reinforcement in short supply for you in your formative years? ‘Constant criticism from loved ones can make us overly sensitive and defensive in our wider relationships,’ says Jeremy. ‘When we shift our focus to improving rather than being perfect, we open up to feedback.’
✣ DO IT ‘Turn your inner critic into a voice of insight,’ says Haifa. ‘Using my PEA framework: PINPOINT what the critical story is saying, ELEVATE it to a kinder, more positive story, and ACT – decide on one small action you can take to reaffirm the more positive message. Do this until the critical voice isn’t as loud. If, as a child, if you were told to keep quiet about your “crazy” or “ridiculous” ideas in front of grown-ups, your adult critical voice can tell you to not speak up in front of everyone. Replace this with,“My ideas are worth sharing, just like everyone else’s. The more I share, the more comfortable I will be in these situations”.’
3. TAME YOUR PESSIMIST OR OPTIMIST MINDSET
If you were conditioned to see the negatives and problems in everything rather than looking for the good, you will have been short-changing yourself. So will someone who’s been infl uenced to adopt an overly sunny outlook and sails through life avoiding responsibility – because they imagine that nothing bad is likely to happen. ‘A balance is needed because too much of anything
can leave you vulnerable to toxic influence, missing out on many things in life,’ says Haifa.
✣ DO IT ‘Bring balance into your life by adopting three mindsets – an objective one to bring realism to the moment, a growth mindset to consider alternative views and approaches, and a possibilities mindset to keep your inner child alive,’ adds Haifa.
4. TRUST YOURSELF
If you were mollycoddled or not allowed to make your own mistakes (even if your family had the best of intentions), it can be very unsettling when you have your independence because it teaches you not to trust your own judgement and encourages undue reliance on others for your views. You need to be certain of your core inner beliefs and values to repair any trust issues
you have. ‘Fear is what blocks our ability to trust,’ says Haifa. ‘The fear of being seen for who we really are and fear of hurt and abandonment, if we don’t do as others think we should, makes us vulnerable. You need to reframe your inner compass.’
✣ DO IT ‘View trust with each person as a separate, dynamic bank account,’ says Jeremy. ‘Regular small deposits lay a solid foundation, so ask for micro favours and commitments first, so you don’t feel exposed. As your bank account with each person grows, you can work out which commitments you’re prepared to risk and when to play it safe.’
5. REJECT FEAR AND ANGER
If there was an undercurrent of fear and anger in your household, it can leave you edgy when facing even basic challenges later in life. ‘Your brain is wired to be afraid and react,’ says Haifa, ‘but you can reduce its impact over time by pinpointing exactly what you are afraid of, what you would do if it happened, and face the fear with the knowledge that you will be OK.’
✣ DO IT ‘Look for calm role models who cope with conflict well,’ says Jeremy. ‘Their infl uence will provide a safe haven for your decisions, and will help you develop a more rational problem-solving style.’
6. STOP AVOIDING CONFLICT
Early memories of conflict can make you want to avoid it at all costs later in life, but this can mean vital issues aren’t addressed. ‘If you weren’t allowed to express your true feelings and resolve conflict healthily, it will mean open, honest communication in your adult romantic relationships can be uncomfortable,’ says Haifa.
✣ DO IT ‘Think about potential flash points and how you would ideally react in each scenario,’ says Jeremy. ‘This will give you a calm, considered option rather than a heated emotional reaction. Look for the common goal with the other person, and if the personal attacks begin, call
a time out, rather than retaliate.’