In times of stress, of pain, when we are hurried, feel under attack, lonely or even just distracted: any time we are not at our best there is the temptation to “Bite the Hook”. To bite the hook is to come back at life with a dysfunctional or less than optimum response, one we KNOW has built in negative or significant risk: the comfort food when we are down, any version of happy hour, entering back into or staying in a flawed, toxic relationship, hitting the couch instead of exercising, sweeping things under the rug…. The list is long, we can all add to it.
Why do we do it? Because no matter how destructive it is long term, in the moment it is the easiest path to take; it is the known road and if there is pain at least it familiar, and in that sense, comfortable, reassuring, non-threatening. We know our lines, we know how it will play out so it seems less risky than striking out into the unknown, trail breaking into foreign, uncharted territory. If the pain/fear of change is 100 and the daily pain/fear factor of the status quo is 1, it is so, so easy to endure the 1 day in and day out BUT it adds up and the cumulative pain (often in the form of lost opportunity) of toleration eventually far exceeds the daily toll and our growth, our learning, our horizons remain forever stunted and we remain but shadows of our potential.
So, how to find the wherewithal to avoid the reflexive response, to pass by the tempting morsel with the barbed hook nestling inside?
AWARENESS: Understand what you are doing, observe yourself, note the situational cues and emotions and thought process that generate the emotions. A habit is only a habit until you observe it; then it is a choice. The key to breaking any habit is to love something else more.
PATTERN INTERRUPT: As your self-knowledge grows, you will learn your patterns; the sooner you can interrupt the pattern and the sooner you can stop the momentum from building, the better.
CREATE CHOICES: Long before the need arises, begin building options into your life, create new, more empowering patterns, reach out, experiment in your good energy times so you will have good memories and related paths to follow when your energy might be more depleted. The way to break a bad habit is NOT to punish yourself or beat yourself up about it, rather it is to observe what need/emotion it serves and then replace it with a better habit. Good habits are as addictive as bad ones and a lot more rewarding!
VISUALIZE SUCCESS: See yourself in vivid, positive, exciting emotional detail living the life you wish, making empowering choices that bring you contentment and happiness. Embrace your best self, resolve to be your own best friend and biggest supporter, and turn your internal critic into a rousing life coach full of loving kindness.
LOVE YOURSELF: Develop your Self Esteem, Believe in You. You were created to be beautiful, to be great. You have tremendous self-worth, you are a marvelous organism, and you owe it yourself to cherish and protect yourself, NEVER allowing anyone, even your own dark side, to treat you with anything but loving respect. Habits you like are harder to break, the key is to reprogram yourself (by clearly, repeatedly focusing on the hook) to see the habit in a negative light. Distinctly see the destructive impact of biting the hook, do NOT try and rationalize it away (rational lies). You’ve been entrusted with the care and safekeeping of a very, very valuable treasure (you!) and you will responsibly fulfill this fiduciary duty as a wise steward. And remember: We are all leaders, we are all on stage 24/7. Others observe us and use us as role models, cues to social norms and acceptable behavior. So be your best, if not for yourself alone, then for others.
“Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask yourself if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.”
– Deepak Chopra, b. 1947
“Some people don’t have that willingness to break bad habits. They have a lot of excuses and they talk like victims.” – Carlos Santana, b. 1947
“I think if you stop bad habits, and you stop long enough, you develop good habits.” – Jordan Knight, b. 1970
As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier