Struggle to change habits
Habits could be the best things that could define a person. Habits gives one the tools to express one self and to learn skills that would not possible without interest and without payment. But habits sometimes become a set up for failure. Some habits are dangerous.
Many people are wired for failure because of the habits that they live with. Someone used to say to me that addicts promise never to drink again every morning, probably due to the hang over or the position they find themselves in. But every night they find themselves circling around at the neighbourhood in lack of vision and decision.
I recently find myself in same situations. Not about addictions or that matter but in daily life itself. Some of the things, like driving to work, working, lunch time, all are habits formed through out long time. Some of us do that unconsciously. Every evening, I plan never to do the routine since the next day, since i felt it was hurting me in life, and I find myself doing the routine the next morning. I do things that i don’t want and seems that i have no power over it.
Then I discovered why we are not firm with our plans and why we struggle to change habits.
1-Our plans are based on emotions.
Emotions are like, “I am great, I can do it” stuff that is irrelevant to the overall vision. We only do it because of some inspiration we have every time and then. They say everyone wants to become a marathon runner at times of Olympics. Lack of follow through is due to short span emotions that does not fulfil the life purpose and current situations. Don’t plan to never go to some place only because you had disagreement with someone.
Do you know people who get hyper after watching TV show they like or after listening inspiring story? Emotion are good but sometimes destructive. Looking things objectively is often good. One reason for the Struggle to change habits is believing emotions more than reality.
2-We don’t have something else to replace the previous habits.
When you decide never to repeat your tasks, then you should see in detail what to do instead. For the drunk never to drink, they should plan to do something else on that specific time. Why not see friends each day of the week and sleep over there? If you don’t plan on what to do instead, surely the mind picks the best thing to do for the day and you will find yourself on same position you were yesterday.
I once found a guy who hated to see his girlfriend who was abusive to him. And each night he would meet her only to get verbally abused and criticised. He promised never to meet her again for 6 months and he could not do that. That makes a huge mark on their already failed relationship. The more I studied their relationship, the more I felt sad for him. The only advice I gave him was “learn to replace your actions.” Without me understanding what it meant. Weeks later he came back a new man few pounds more and few inches taller. He smiled to me and said “It worked. I started taking this cooking class at 10. And I did that for 20 days already. She obviously didn’t call and I am forgetting her.” Well, that is sad story but a story with lesson to take from.
Replace your bad habits with another good habit rather than running away from it.
We are taught to do something good using reward and punishment system where when you do “good” you get prized and when you do “bad” you get punished. The system still works for adults whose consciousness is much more progressed. The notion of association is where we do certain tasks and we avoid others even though they are necessary. Well, it is due to these positive and negative associations were the mind regrets, caught in flight or enjoy the process. When you over eat, you feel bad. Why? Because the marketing, the culture, the image of being fat and the bully gives you hard time. Even though, food you ate does not have much, you feel sorry for yourself.
One of reason for the Struggle to change habits is no association of a task with gratification. If life works such way, why not prize yourself for achievement?
Punishment and reward-psychology today
This is a technique that I used a while ago to learn new way of life. I was not satisfied with the one I have. It was never the norm but it did not satisfy me. I wanted to change but I could not for long. And one-day accidentally, I listened to my guts and wrote a fiction like character based on my ideal life in a day. I then change where I stay, whom I stay with, where I sleep. I refused to eat where I ate a day before and learnt to wake up at 5 for 30 days. And I did things based on 30 minutes and 1-hour difference. I did this for a month. And guess what? It was hard but my subconscious picked it. And all of a sudden, I found myself waking up at 5, writing for an hour, reading for another hour, exercising and breakfast and leave the house before 7. Going to bed at 10 and close all my laptop and phone at 9. The more I do them in a certain a pattern they become my days.
More: Breaking pattern
One reason for the Struggle to change habits is lack of repetition and accountability. Replace your habits, break your pattern and learn to prize your self for good work.