You know I had a good buddy of mine, I used to go over his house a lot and his grandmother lived there. She was a really sweet lady. I recall a phrase that she used to say all the time that cracked me up. When people would talk about something they used to do like “I used to run a business years ago…” or “I used to have a lot of money” or “I used to do whatever”. She would always say, “Yoosta’, was a roosta’ ”.
I have no idea what that means but it was really funny when she said it. The cool thing about older people is that they’ve kind of earned the right to say whatever they want – whether it makes sense or not. So you just kind of smile and chuckle and just kind of go on back your way.
Anyway, the main thing behind what she was saying was: “That is what you used to do, but what are you doing now?”
Thinking about that reminded me of an exercise I did to improve habits I wanted to change.
There were a couple of things that I have always had challenges with: One was spelling and the other was remembering people’s names. To make matter worse, I actually encouraged the negative behavior by saying things like “Oh, I’m a horrible speller” or “I’m not good with remembering names”.
So of course, saying ‘I couldn’t spell’ or ‘remember names’, just got me more of bad spelling and not remembering names.
So… what started doing was saying these things in the past tense. For example, “I’ll say “Well, I used to be a horrible speller…” or I “Oh, I used to be bad with remembering names”.
And, interestingly enough, I’ve actually found my spelling getting better. There was one word I used to have tremendous trouble with spelling. It was really the inconsistency spelling that was most frustrating, because I’d spell it right one day, but the next five times, I’d spell it wrong. The word was ‘inconvenient’. (got it right that time 🙂 )
I’d write a letter in Microsoft Word and that red squiggly line would get me almost every time. But since starting to say I “used” to be a bad speller I found that I’ve been spelling it correctly – probably as much as eight or nine times out of ten.
Now, the argument could it be easily made that, because I’ve been spelling it incorrectly so long, I’ve finally gotten it right by doing it over and over and over again. The thing is…I didn’t do anything differently to improve my spelling. Well, think about it this way: when I was saying that I was a horrible speller before, my brain had no reason to improve and try to figure out how to spell it correctly. It had no reason to even attempt to get it right because I had accepted the fact that I was a poor speller…so my brain did nothing. That’s why the majority of the time my brain spelled it incorrectly.
Now, here is what I want you to get:
I didn’t do anything differently. I didn’t take any spelling or English class recently. I just put the intention out there…by saying I “used” to be a bad speller…”. And I’d follow it up with, “…but now I’m a good speller”. And just by putting that intention out there my brain actually started focusing on spelling the words correctly.
Think about it: I was spelling it correctly some of the time, most of the time I was spelling incorrectly. So, there was no real difference in who I was or an increase of knowledge.
It’s not like I was spelling it consistently incorrectly and then all of a sudden I started spelling it right. It was just inconsistent. Some times it was right, some times it was wrong, but the majority of the time it was wrong. But after putting the intention out that I’m a good speller, I’m spelling that and other words more correctly… the majority of the time.
Even though the majority of the documents I write are in Microsoft Word… and really all I need to do is hit F-7 to do a spell check, I don’t want to be a horrible speller. I don’t want to put that intention out for myself. And now I’ve put that bad habit behind me.
So if you have any habits that are not in alignment with what it is you want for yourself – add the “Use To” to your sentences.
- “I used to be a bad speller…”
- “I used to be overweight…”
- “I used to be late all the time… “
- “I used to be forgetful…”
Whatever challenges you’re having in you life…put it behind you by saying I used to do that.
That will put your brain in the mindset that this is something that “was”, but now isn’t
An also be sure to follow it up with the positive habit you want to form. “I used to be late everywhere I went, but now I’m on time everywhere I go”. Or “I used to be really forgetful but now I remember… but now remembering things is very easy for me”
Just this little shift will make a huge difference for you.