BREAKING AN ADDICTIVE HABIT – CUTTING OURSELVES SOME SLACK
I often forget how long it took to develop a good habit, a skill, strong faith etc., and likewise the time it took before a bad habit was established.
So often we can grow frustrated when the little practice we use when attempting to give up a habit and acquire a new one doesn’t yield the results we want in the time frame we give it but if we have ever goal set and achieved goals, we most likely had many attempts, frustrations, discomfort and even failures before we succeeded, but somehow or other kept going. Failure was followed by a renewed decision that we will achieve, and we learned something about our self and what to avoid or focus on for success. The more we succeed the more we expect success and celebrate it when it comes, for however long. but we are not so keen to learn from our failures but this is where true growth, strength, and courage to face the future lies.
I once heard a saying ‘Failure is never fatal, and success is never final’ it is courage to continue that counts’. At those times I try to remember that I am a work in progress after all, and it makes sense to be determined to learn both in success and in failure if I am not to get discouraged.
Nothing is wasted along the journey of self-development, or really lost and all give experience (even if at times we feel we would rather do without the so-called failures). I have even done affirmations to help train my mind in thinking positively and focusing on what experience teaches me. The knockdown time is less painful and full of hope and encourages more patience. It also encourages me not to rest on my laurels thinking ‘I’ve made it’, but remember I have lots of potentials to grow and to give back to the universe so growth continues. You don’t have to be perfect to share what you have learned.
MUSCLE AND BRAIN MEMORY
Interestingly we can write our name in the dark! We no longer need to see after doing this so many times. We can prove this any time by closing our eyes and trying it out in the air or on paper. We can even do this (although more slowly with the left hand (if we are right-handed). This is because our brain and muscles remember the movements to a lesser extent if we are not used to doing it. Our neurons are also activated more automatically on a pathway which is frequently used when a pathway has been stimulated repeatedly. Those thoughts and memories of how to do things are strengthened by use, and also weakened by disuse, and the brain is so advanced that it records pretty much everything that helps us and even haunts us. I say that because every experience triggers an electrical response (stronger or weaker) which leaves an impression. Fear leaves an impression which if repeated becomes part of our outlook.
Faith too leaves an impression and can likewise be part of our natures. Someone said if you think you cannot do something and if you think you can, in both instances you are right. You shape your own reality especially if the behavior (albeit thought behavior) is repeated often enough.
GETTING OTHERS TO CUT YOU SOME SLACK AND CUTTING YOURSELF SOME SLACK
One of the things I have learned is to enlist support and face the fear of rejection. Take this easy though there is no need to announce to the world your weakness, especially if you are tender-hearted and susceptible to criticism. Choose instead confidants within the family and very close trusted friendships. A little humility can go a long way. There is a good reason that admission of a problem is the first step. Admit to yourself and then to trusted others then ask both for compassion and understanding as you battle the habit. This way (although the trouble is not in the environment) you can avoid environmental triggers more easily as others support you in changing habits.
I remember actually saying to a good friend that I really wanted to kick the smoking habit and apologized because I knew that while I was with them I found it hard to quit. I got their support and explained what it would mean to me to quit. I also explained that it would mean they would have to accept I would have to see less of them for a time until I was strong enough to handle the temptation, and re-assured them that this was in no way a rejection of their company but that I really did not like myself smoking and just how bad I felt and how I felt it stopped me fulfilling some other important goals. I simply and unashamedly explained that this was because I was too weak (which was just about the truth of it) but could still speak, and they encouraged me and admitted that they would stop if they could. I knew it would be hard. I met someone a few months ago who explained he wanted to quit and had gone 10 days. I did all I could to encourage him and remembered how I had communicated my expectation that my would help me and remind.
MEMORY AND AMNESIA
Funny how when cravings come you forget why you are trying to quit. However, the craving does pass if you wait and re-direct your thoughts for 10 minutes. Frequent Meditation on reasons for the choice (when not faced with the choice) is one potential way to re-condition your thoughts and strengthen resolve