Sunday, 28 October 2018

Breaking Habits - Part One

Many of us have habits, routines, or practices that we wish to change or 'break'. Often, we decide that we want to change a habit because it is 1) causing us distress or discomfort; 2) not serving it's original purpose any longer; or 3) we feel that there is a better way of doing things.

This post is going to be the first of a series on breaking habits. Stay tuned, because it is one of my favourite series here on the blog!

The tough part, of course, is actually CHANGING the habit. To stop doing what one has done for so long is foreign. On a more biological level, our brains have gotten comfortable with the previous habit. It has become 'standard' to us. So, changing things up is like a red flag to our brains - it has to relearn something new.

This applies to nearly any habit we may have. And although it is not simple, it is POSSIBLE. I have found that the best way to try to change a habit is not necessarily to ignore the habit or routine, but to reflect on 1) how the habit served you before (ex. what did doing xxx do for me?); 2) what kept the habit entrenched (ex. a certain place? being around certain people or objects? certain situations?); and 3) why you feel you would like to change or break the habit (ex. why is this something you don't want to be part of your life anymore?).

Even just thinking about breaking a habit causes some distress. We think, 'but if I don't do xxx, I will feel miserable!' or 'if I cannot engage in habit zzz, what will I do with my time? Or how will I cope with this situation?'. It is important to realize that having these feelings and thoughts in response to changing a habit is normal. Remember, your habits have become habits because your brain got used to them, they served a purpose, and now they are routine. So, expect that changing a habit will not be as easy as thinking 'Oh, I'll just wake up tomorrow and not have my morning cigarette. It'll be fine'. It simply does not work that way. Chances are you will wake up and think, 'I need that cigarette. I'll start breaking this habit tomorrow'.

Ah, the concept of 'starting tomorrow'. The issue is, tomorrow will not come when doing an action such as breaking a habit, which is tough, is concerned. We will always find ways to delay 'tomorrow'. Now. Now is the time to start thinking about what habit you want to break or change, and to commit to it.

Throughout this series, we will talk about:
1) How to actually START breaking or changing a habit
2) How to keep repeating this so that change is sustained
3) What to do when you feel like you can't go on or change

Think about something you want to change about your life - a habit or routine that you have gotten caught up with. Sure, for a while, that habit or action was likely helpful in managing an emotion, a need, or a situation in your life. But right now, you feel something in your soul telling you to quit it. To make a change. You're scared, but you want to try. I'm not an expert, but I know it is doable. Let's join together on this journey towards changing our habits and growing new roots. I hope this series is helpful and fruitful!

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