Instead of Arguing with Your Bad Habits

When we enter a dark room, we simply think, “I’ll switch on a light.”  We don’t usually think, “I’ll switch on a darkness killer.”

Yet this is often what we do with our habits that frustrate us.  We focus on quitting the darkness, instead of kindling the light.  We concoct a bad habit killer, a way to rid ourselves of the habit we dislike, instead of focusing on creating and maintaining a new practice to replace the bad habit.  (Do you ever wonder what “bad habits” actually look like?  Maybe, they are like the outlaws in the Old Westerns with holsters and creepy red bandanas to hide their faces. The red bandanas make them REALLY BAD HABITS.)

Luckily, there are ways of dealing with these outlaws!

For example, a month ago I wrote a blog post  on how I routinely overate sweets when they were in my apartment.

I had done this for years.  Over those years, I kept trying to quit the darkness of my overeating.  I kept telling myself things like “I don’t want to overeat;” “I shouldn’t overeat,” and the like.   And still time and time again, I would overeat.

Finally, I switched on the light around this habit, which meant creating a new practice.  (I decided I didn’t want to mess with that crude red bandana dude anymore!)

I observed that I love eating treats. I find it wonderful to eat treats and choose to derive great joy from eating treats.  I notice that eating treats literally lights me up.

So then I wondered, how could I maintain the light of eating treats and yet leave the darkness I find from overeating at home?

The new practice that I came up with was to make the consuming of every treat an occasion by making a special trip specifically to buy it, whether it’s a candy bar or a cookie (or more likely two).

This way I’m attending to my desire for a treat in two senses- the going out to get a treat is a festive occasion, and I’m getting the food I desire as I treat.

But I have structured in a way of portion control, I only buy one serving of the treat (okay two cookies probably is more a Jason-type serving than a Nutrition Facts-On-the-Back-of-Bag-of-Rice-Cakes-type of serving).  But it’s still portion control.

As I created the light of a new practice, the old habit of overeating at home naturally dissipated.

We often try to fix our habits by worrying and arguing about their dark aspects.  This keeps us focused on the dark.

However when we focus on creating a new exciting, positive practice to replace our Red Bandana Clad Habit and consistently employ it, the light of this practice will come, in time, to fill the space that was occupied by the old habit.

Game of the Day

What’s a habit that you have that you notice you would like to change?

What new exciting, positive practice could you employ to replace this habit?

What would it look like to consistently employ this new practice in this area of your life?

Jason Freeman is a professional writer, and a one-of-a-kind public speaker.  He is the founder and CEO of Heroic Yes! Productions. Jason has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska.  He knows the pain of perceiving one’s life through a lens of limitation and also the thrill of moving beyond that mindset.  For more information on Jason’s powerful message, or to book him to present to your organization, go to www.HeroicYesProductions.com.

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Bringing Fascination to Our Frustrating Habits

We often attempt to deal with our frustrating habits through guilt, secrecy, and misery.

Today I’m experimenting with a different approach, dealing with frustrating habits through fascination.

I will use my habit of overeating as an example.  I feel that I eat until I’m beyond full at least once a day.

I’m fascinated because I keep doing the same thing over and over again.

A week ago, I walked to a local diner, had a Mexican scramble and even an extra tortilla and I was full and satisfied.  Then, I arrived home and felt I deserved desert.  So, I ate this peanut butter chocolate and peanut mix, which I recently discovered that I could buy in bulk. After dipping my hand in the plastic bag holding the mix too many times, I felt Beyond Full.

I’m fascinated because I keep doing the same thing over and over again.

Tonight, just before beginning to type this blog, wouldn’t you know it, déjà vu!  I had just woken up from a nap.  I knew even before my feet even hit the carpet that I was full.  However, I had the thought that I had just purchased a fresh bag of that peanut butter chocolaty stuff.  And pretty soon, I was dipping my hand into the bag over and over again, while I sat in front of the computer thinking about what I was going to blog about.  Now once again I feel Beyond Full.

And yes, you got it.   I’m fascinated because I keep doing the same thing over and over again.

Part of me thinks that it would be nice if there were a gauge that would tell me when I was full, before I crossed into the Bloated-Feeling Land of Beyond Full.  And I guess there is.  The General Solution to my daily over-eating is counting calories or even more simply paying attention to when my body is telling me enough is enough.

I’m fascinated that I know exactly how to release myself from this habit, but still make the decision to do the same thing over and over again.

As you might imagine, I have told very few people about this fascinating and frustrating habit of mine.  (Well, I guess that is until now.)  I have kept this secret close to the belt, (Ha! Ha!) because, well, it is more than somewhat uncool and really down-right awkward to go around telling people that I feel that I over-eat on an almost daily basis.

I’m fascinated that I’m telling you all of this.

My hope is that being fascinated with my frustrating habit of over-eating will create something other than the cycle of guilt and secrecy that has surrounded this habit.  (Well, definitely the secrecy that has surrounded the bulk peanut butter chocolaty thing that I eat is no more).

(Please keep in mind that this fascination approach to dealing with frustrating habits is just an experiment I came up with tonight and is not meant to replace other approaches to dealing with habits and addictions.)

 Game of the Day

1.  Do you have a frustrating habit that you are dealing through guilt and secrecy?

Each time you chose to participate in this habit say, “I’m fascinated because I keep doing the same thing over and over again.”

2.  What would be the general solution to your frustrating habit?  Write down the general solution to your frustrating habit.  Then say, “I’m fascinated that I know exactly how to release myself from this habit, but still make the decision to do the same thing over and over again.”

3.  Tell someone or even better multiple people about your frustrating habit.  Then say, “I’m fascinated that I’m telling you all of this.”

4.   How does this approach of fascination with your frustrating habit work for you?

5.   What happens to the guilt, secrecy and misery that you feel around your habit?