In his excellent book “Self Discipline in 10 Days, Theodore Bryant outlines the five reasons why people fail to enact change in their lives. These negative mental habits combine to thwart even our best efforts at change. Some act quickly, stopping us right out of the gate. Others act more slowly over time, causing us to quit even when things are headed for the better. Combined, they easily fit the description Bryant used: Poisons.
After you read this list, you’ll realize that one of them isn’t actually a word. But don’t let this negativity affect your assessment of this fantastic summary of mental poisons.
- Cynicism – Questioning the value, appropriateness, timing, or effectiveness of any potential solution.
- Negativism – Focusing on the negative aspects rather than the positive aspects, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Defeatism – Finding a reason why something cannot work, and letting this keep you from trying.
- Escapism – Diverting your attention to other activities, typically those that bring more short term pleasure.
- Delayism – Introducing something as a roadblock or hurdle to prevent action towards your goals.
Any one of these items might be enough to stop your plans for change and self-growth. A combination of several is usually enough to kill your efforts outright. I suggest making a set of 3×5 cards or post-it notes with each of these items. On the back, write the antidote. Keep them with you as you try to change your habits, and learn to recognize the effect they have on your day-to-day activities.