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.