“Health, happiness and success directly result from our habits”.
We are not talking about the harmless or inconsequential habits but a pattern of behavior that repeats over and over again and keeps us stuck. It is an established pattern of being, of feeling, of living or relating and is deeply wired in our psyche and has deep neurological grooves that are difficult to overcome with affirmations, willpower and discipline alone.
There is no doubt how hard it is to change these patterns of behavior! Much harder, though, is to live a life that does not look like anything we wanted because of our habits.
Habits are learned, we are not born with them. And when something is learned, it can be unlearned. Denial, resistance and rationalization are natural parts of the process as long as we are not stuck in it forever. We have countless examples and inspiring stories of people making radical changes in their lives. They change the way they view themselves, they change the direction of their lives, they go back to school to finish their education, they leave that job that was sucking the life out of them, they leave that toxic relationship, they kick the worst of addictions and much more.
We all have that fire inside of us waiting to be lit. Once we discover that fire, it is no longer possible to live any other way.
Changes that stick are the ones made from deep within. Habit patterns are a symptom of our deeply held beliefs about ourselves, about life, about relationships, about health, about money and other things that affect the quality of our life. We know that in order to eradicate the symptoms completely, we must treat the root cause of those symptoms. Until we dive deep and change our beliefs, any change we make on the surface level will only be temporary. Our beliefs are a result of our past experiences, conditioning and old structures (that we once had to establish because they served a purpose then). Once they served their purpose and no longer represent us now, they are no longer needed. However, they become part of our conditioning and will continue to control our behavior unless we evaluate them from time to time and discard them once they have served their purpose and are no longer needed.
in that sense, habits by themselves are not good or bad, they merely feed the belief patterns that we are holding in the subconscious. The subconscious does not judge the habits, it simply does what it needs to do to maintain the status quo — the belief. A habit is a good habit if it is taking us in the direction we want; if it isn’t, then it simply is a distraction away from our goals. It is up to us to decide our direction and evaluate whether a habit/choice/action is taking us in that direction.
Before doing the deep inner work that is necessary to make long lasting changes, it is important to establish a mental frame of mind that can serve as a foundation to make these changes.
Changing habits is about self-discovery
The number one thing to realize is that changing habits is not about self improvement, rather it is about self discovery. It is a much kinder and encouraging way of thinking, and it actually is the truth. It feels exhausting to think that we continuously have to improve regardless of where we are in our journey. It can feel like chasing our tails at times. The question to ask is: “Is this habit a true representation of me?” Anything that is not a true representation of who we are will naturally fall off as we move more and more toward who we truly are.
Replace an old habit with a new one
Replacing an old habit with a new one works much better for our psyche than getting rid of the habit. Taking away something creates a vacuum and the subconscious will fill it with something else unless we consciously fill it with what we want. A common example of that is weight gain after someone quits smoking. As life changes, what we need also changes. Therefore, it is good to review our habits from time to time to see which ones are no longer in alignment with our growth and our goals and replace them with the ones that are.
Refrain from negative self judgment
Habits are not a moral compass to judge ourselves or others by — bad habits don’t mean that you are a bad person. It just means that we have been there done that and it no longer holds our interest. Ultimately, we are not our habits. An over-identification with our habits is a mental trap that keeps us stuck in the same pattern. The negative self judgment makes us feel the familiar bad inner feeling that acts as a magnet for the same old habit that we are trying to change. So, putting a positive spin on this, even on temporary basis, and believing that we can change the habits works to our advantage and becomes a catalyst in doing the deeper work to make the changes stick.
Remember your potential
Our potential is always greater than what we have accomplished today. Just because we can’t do something today does not mean we can’t do it tomorrow. Self identification is important for us to find our purpose in life but the negative self identification can be detrimental. “I am just a lazy person,” “exercise is not my thing,” and “I have anxiety or another disorder,” are sure ways to remain stuck.
We only know what we know. We never really know our potential until we put ourselves in the challenging or unfamiliar situations and realize we can do far more than we thought. Then we begin to see ourselves differently and more than what we once thought of ourselves. Attaching negative labels and adjectives to ourselves only undermines our potential as human beings and becomes a major mental block in uncovering that potential and really serves no purpose.
We are all a certain way until we are not! We can break free of these mental limitations and labels that we impose on ourselves. Because self identification is important, find the one that is going to uplift you, make you more of who you truly are and take you in the direction of your goals.
The whole of life is a learning process. Just because you don’t know something today does not mean you won’t tomorrow. Actually, you can and you will.
Meena Puri, certified yoga and meditation teacher, and registered ayurvedic practitioner is the founder of The Yoga School of Milford and Ayurvedic Healing Center. For more information, visit http://www.TheYogaSchool.com or http://www.AyurvedicHealingCenter.com or call 248-685-3489