With a new year shortly around the corner I think a lot of us like the idea of starting anew or approaching the year with a fresh start. I felt it would be appropriate to write about ‘getting out of a rut’ and building new habits in 2022.
First, a little note about beliefs, behaviours and breaking bad habits. Beliefs are caused by a thought, and if that thought is put on repeat, the thought becomes a belief. Anything that is placed on repeat moves from conscious thought to unconscious thought. Are you with me so far?
Thought always precedes behaviour and we use feelings and emotions to gauge our thoughts.
We use our feelings to come to terms with the thoughts. We could never keep track of the many different thoughts entering our head at any given time. It is only your feelings that lead you to take note of your thoughts. You may not realize a thought precedes a behaviour because of the speed the neurons are firing. This speed is beyond what is occurring within any computer operating system.
This, for the most part, is a great thing. This means we do not need to relearn behaviour. Examples include driving a car, making your favorite recipe, and checking email. Unfortunately, this is the same for unwanted behaviours. I know!! If the rules would not apply to unwanted behaviours life would be so easy! Don’t like the idea that you are addicted to a substance or behaviour? You are not alone. Deep down inside we are all prisoners of unwanted behaviours. We are mere mortals after all. Examples might be screaming at your kid, eating sugar, snorting cocaine, or drinking coffee just to stay alert. These behaviours can become very difficult to simply ‘turn off’.
Well, it turns out the only way to get unstuck or to turn it off is through minding your mind. But it is impossible to do this in the moment of the unwanted behaviour. That’s the kicker.
So, what’s the answer? Is there a pill I can take for that? Well, no… unless you are referring to the broad sense of thought-based behaviour such as panic attacks, which of course there is no shortage of pharmaceutical options.
The best solution is always the longest lasting solution, which is usually the most difficult solution. We simply need to do the work.
We need to start small and work our way to the point of doing it in the moment. Starting small means just accessing our thoughts at any given time of the day. For example, when is the last time you ate a meal, or even an apple and focused on that exact task? How does the apple feel on my teeth? Is it crunchy or soft? Sweet or tart? You get where I am going. If you have done that very exercise with an apple, I bet you it didn’t last for longer than 15 seconds, not the entire time you took to eat the apple.
The above example is what some might call ‘doing the work’. That means taking time out in your day to focus only on what is in front of you. It is not easy! That is why it needs to begin very small.
Choose one thing you can do every day that keeps you out of your head and in the present. It can be as simple as eating a piece of fruit, taking your air pods out of your ears when you are walking the dog and focusing on nature, pulling out a gratitude journal, or sitting in front of the fireplace and starring at the flames and listening to the wood crackle. It doesn’t have to be meditation in the traditional sense, but that is not a bad place to begin either.
Nothing of what I wrote here is new. Meditation and prayer have been the longest practicing ritual since the birth of humankind. We have had meditation apps for how long now. It must be at least 10 years? Has the world become calmer? More focused? I hate to be a downer here, but I don’t think so. I think with so many other aspects of health, we know what to do but we are not doing it.
“Today is December 21st – winter solstice. A wonderful time to sit in the darkness of the season, and I mean in a good way. Cozy up in your favorite chair and pause and relax your mind.”
That is why I wanted to remind you today, that you can start today by eating that piece of fruit while concentrating on every aspect of it.
Today is December 21st – winter solstice. A wonderful time to sit in the darkness of the season, and I mean in a good way. Cozy up in your favorite chair and pause and relax your mind. See it as your gift to yourself. Don’t be afraid of your thoughts, as it is just a thought. It is not who you are, or what truly exists, it is simply a thought.
Next week I will send you a special message – it may be a ‘guest experience’. There – I did it. I wrote it. I am going to appear with a video message. This takes guts on my part…but just like the podcast, once it is down on paper it becomes real. I am taking the plunge! Polar plunge, like a true Canadian.
Till next week…have a blessed season. Wishing you all the health and happiness the season can bring. Most of all, be kind to yourself and to others.