CHANGING YOUR HABITS
By Dr. Lawrence Wilson
©February 2015, L.D Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
Excellent habits make for health, wealth and happiness. Destructive habits lead to illness, poverty and despair. Learning how to change your habits is thus a wonderful skill for everyone.
A habit is defined as any behavior that becomes routine, mechanical, automatic or even just “comfortable”. Habits can range from brushing your teeth to getting drunk every day. This article discusses both concepts related to ending bad habits, and some methods for changing your habits.
CONCEPTS FOR ENDING BAD HABITS
1. MOST BEHAVIOR IS PARTLY UNCONSCIOUS AND MECHANICAL, SO BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF.
We are creatures of habit.
This is why behavior and thought patterns are not easy to change.
The unconscious component can be very deep and very old.
Understanding this helps you not to expect too much, too fast when attempting to change habits. It is a formidable task or there would be no need for most counseling centers, recovery programs, hypnotherapists and even some psychiatric medications. However, habits can change, as evidenced by thousands of people who quite smoking and drinking, quit eating junk food, improve their relationships, and more.
2. DO NOT RATIONALIZE, DEFEND, JUSTIFY OR EXCUSE YOUR BAD HABITS - NO MATTER WHAT.
This one is hurts a lot! However, if you want to change a habit, you must not excuse the bad habit or tendency. Unfortunately, this is exactly what many people do. The mind is very capable of twisting things to make them more acceptable. It does this in dozens of ways that can all sound very sound and logical. Sometimes one’s excuses are amazing to hear.
Excuses and justifications are really hidden agendas that people have, that often explain their bad habits. For instance, if you defend your alcohol-drinking or sugar-eating behavior, your hidden agenda is usually that you are addicted, but don’t want to admit it. So people excuse or justify the behavior rather than expose the real truth or agenda.
Here are just a few examples of the way a person can minimize, excuse, defend, justify or even encourage or allow bad habits. Note if you have ever used these excuses, as they will defeat you:
“We all are going to die anyway, so why not enjoy the bad habit?”.
“It’s not that bad”.
“Other people do it, so why should I worry about it.”
“I have many good habits, so a few bad ones are okay.”
“Well, it is just the way it is”, or “It’s who I am, so leave me alone”.
“I know very successful people with the same habit, so it must not be bad”.
“I don’t really want this habit, but since I have it, I won’t worry about it as it bothers me to think about it too much”.
“It really isn’t that bad if I control it a little”.
“Thinking about my habit makes me depressed, so I’d rather leave it alone”.
“If I change, I might lose my friends, or my husband or wife, or my children”.
“Quitting is scary, and I have a pretty good life right now.”
“I really like this habit, deep down, so I’m not likely to change it”.
Here are excuses people make to their friends and family:
“Everyone has some bad habits. These are just mine, so what is the problem”.
“Don’t bother me. You are not perfect, either. Who are you to tell me what to do or not to do”.
“You are just jealous”.
“You just don’t understand me very well, or you don’t care about me and don’t love me enough”.
“You obviously don’t appreciate me very much”.
“Why should I change, when you have not changed ___________ (your bad habit) .”
“Why not bother someone else for a change.”
… AND MANY OTHERS
All excuses for not changing behavior may make you feel better, but they all hold you back. Excuses are attempts to defend something for which there is no legitimate defense. To change any habit, give up your excuses. Just give them up. Stop using them and of course stop trying to come up with new ones. If you feel mentally weak or easily tempted, admit it. There is something refreshing about stating the truth.
3. EXPRESS OR AFFIRM TO THE UNIVERSE OR TO GOD THAT YOU ARE DONE WITH THIS HABIT AND WANT THIS HABIT TO GO AWAY
This is about commitment and very important, because it addresses another aspect of bad habits. That is, usually a part of you does not want to let go of the habit, or it would have occurred already. In other words, one must be thoroughly and ruthlessly honest and ask for what one really wants.
This is a big subject, but basically people say they want to quit smoking or stop lying or exaggerating, but they really like their habit and don’t think it is so bad. In other words, it is a tug of war inside the person.
By forcing yourself to clearly state and restate many times that you want to get rid of the habit, it can help you to be more honest in the way you think about it and talk about it to yourself and to others.
4. MAKE UP REASONS TO CHANGE THE HABIT, IF YOU MUST.
This sounds artificial and corny, but it can work well in some cases. If you must, decide that you will change your habit for the sake of your children, or for your husband or wife, or to be a better parent or worker, perhaps.
You might reason that you will change because God wants you to, or because otherwise you are a hypocrite. Perhaps decide to change because it will make you a better person, or more disciplined. It is fine to justify and rationalize changing the habit. It is not helpful to justify or rationalize holding on to the bad habit. This is an important concept, in fact.
5. ASK FOR GUIDANCE AND HELP OVER AND OVER AGAIN EACH DAY
The Bible, in Matthew 7:7, states “Ask and you shall receive”, “Seek and you shall find”, “Knock and the door shall be opened”. Asking for help from divine sources, and everyone else, actually works. Many people forget to ask or pray for help often – every day, and even all day, in fact.
Begin your day by saying, “Please, God, help me change this habit”. You can ask the angels, the Masters, Jesus, God, Source, the high self, the real self, or whomever you believe can help. I would ask all of them, even if you don’t like Jesus or you don’t believe in angels or God. It does not matter. The important thing is to ask, over and over again.
This technique puts you in a very wonderful space in which you are open to receiving guidance, which may come in unusual ways. You might meet someone who assists you, or watch a TV program or movie that is helpful. A relationship might change that helps, or some other unusual events may occur that is helpful. This is how the universe works, when you begin to ask for help on a daily basis. This is why saying prayers before bed, and again in the morning, are wonderful if you want to change any habit at all. Just remind God or whomever you wish that you are trying to change this habit, and not to forget to help you.
9. SUBSTITUTE BETTER BEHAVIORS OR HABITS FOR THE BAD ONES, RATHER THAN JUST DENY ONESELF THE BAD HABIT OR BEHAVIOR.
When changing habits, denial of the old ways does not work well for most people. Instead, substitute better foods for worse ones, healthier activities for less healthful ones, saner friends for less healthy ones. However, one often has to make room for the new by giving up the old. It takes a smidgeon of willingness.
This concept of substituting is thus a very important one. It can help distract you from your old ways, fill your time wisely, and it sets up new support systems.
UPGRADE YOUR LIFE.
People often talk of upgrading their computer, their car or their house. Changing habits is about upgrading the quality of your life. This includes the company you keep, the food you eat, the books and magazines you read, the shows you watch on television, and the places you go.
In particular, it includes the thoughts you entertain. This is your mental diet. Many people engage in 'stinking thinking'. They are negative, cynical, depressed, angry, or guilty about something or other.
11. DO YOUR BEST TO LET GO OF ALL THAT HOLDS YOU BACK FROM CHANGING YOUR HABITS.
The reason for this is that often it is a person’s friends, routines, and other life contexts that holds a person in old habits.
A friend is one who holds the space of truth and reminds you when you are off track. Be very clear about this. Those who encourage or support you in bad habits or attitudes are not your real friends, no matter how ‘friendly’ or ‘loving’ they seem to be. They are enablers, often with their own hidden agendas.
FOCUS ON YOURSELF IN A HEALTHY WAY, AND ON THE PRESENT, NOT THE PAST OR FUTURE
Changing habits requires a focus on yourself. It is not a morbid preoccupation with the self, although it may look that way to others. It is about loving the self enough to observe, taking the time to experiment, letting go of what does not work, and having the courage to make new choices. It is all about you, not about others.
As part of this, stop blaming
anyone, in the present or in the past, for your unhealthy habits, as this just slows
or may stop your ability to change. This is just an excuse, you will
Changing habits requires a focus on the present and letting go of the past. Choices your parents or teachers made may not work for you. Change requires letting go of people, places, activities and things that "once meant something". Sentimental and nostalgic attachments that are now meaningless just hold you back. Throw out items that remind you of a dead past and let go of romantic notions of the past. It was a stage in your growth and carries little other significance.
Also, stay out of the future most of the time. While some planning is necessary for all of us, in particular financial planning in our society, the future may or may not happen the way you think. Be careful about listening to prophets of doom, for example. The world is fine and getting better all the time. What matters is whether you are getting better. It's too easy to blame the world for your habits.
The best preparation for the future is to live every present moment well. Take one day at a time. If you goof up, let it go and start over tomarrow. Everyone has those days. Fortunately, the days always end and a new one begins.
Whatever you commit yourself to, you will achieve. This is an ironclad rule. Intent is everything. By keeping your intent pure and not giving up, you will eventually develop yourself and succeed, at least to a degree. This holds true in every area of life. If you do not achieve something, it just means you changed your mind at some point and stopped being committed to a particular outcome.
There are many methods for focusing on yourself in a positive way. Meditation and prayer have been discussed above. Later in this article, under the heading of Methods TO Change Habits, are more ways to focus on yourself positively such as tracking, journaling, and getting professional counseling.
13. HAVE A SYSTEMS APPROACH.
This is related to some of the
ideas above. Habits do not exist
in isolation. They are tied in with one's body chemistry, structure,
energetic patterns, social circle and personality structure. A systems
approach targets all these aspects to uproot behaviors, thinking or feeling
patterns that often have tentacles radiating in all directions.
For example, to change your eating habits, just learning about nutrition or shopping at a health store may not be enough. Letting go of emotional traumas may be very important. Balancing your minerals helps a lot. Foot reflexology sometimes helps a lot. Letting go of your 'junk food friends' can be a key. Structural therapies such as chiropractic may also help. Insisting on the cooperation of your family may also be essential. The interactions between these aspects are subtle. A blockage in a seemingly unrelated area can hold you back.
To give up a late-night television habit, you may need to adjust your diet to reduce stimulants, change thinking patterns so you stop believing that sleep is a waste of time, or drop your friends who insist on discussing who appeared on the late, late, late show. Many things can feed a simple habit. The more aspects of your life you address and heal, the easier it will be to change any habit.
14. LEARN TO BE HONEST AND AUTHENTIC.
Many people seem unable to change their habits. In reality, they do not want to change. They lie about their intentions to others, but mainly they lie to themselves. They enjoy the addictive high they get from sugar, alcohol or perhaps compulsive exercise, and they have no intent to change. They learned to lie about it long ago. Breaking the habit of lying is often the first step in changing habits.
Dishonesty is rampant in society. Schools even teach it to children these days under the guise of political correctness and “sensitivity training”. Did you know that all the textbook manufacturers have a sensitivity panel that censors all textbooks for "offensive" language and ideas? They distort the truth if it is unpleasant or might offend some group.
Any time truth takes a back seat, habits will be hard to change. Look at any dishonesty squarely in the face and let it go.
15. WATCH OUT FOR HOPELESSNESS.
Deep down, many people do not believe they can change. They believe they are hopeless, dammed and condemned to suffer. This is a lie. However, it makes a convenient excuse for any destructive behavior. After all, why not have some temporary pleasure from junk food, alcohol, destructive sex or something else if real healing is impossible.
Disbelief in change is the idea that you are a victim of your habit or behavior. It is a lie heavily promoted by the media and some political leaders, as it weakens people and increases the power of the government authorities.
To change habits, give up victimhood and question the false idea that you cannot change.
16. GET PLENTY OF REST AND SLEEP.
It sounds simple, but plenty of rest and sleep are vital for habit change of any kind. Some attempt to change their habits by distracting themselves with lots of activities. Although focusing on better things is great, it can backfire if it means ignoring the body's needs for sleep and rest. Tiredness leads to apathy, depression and despair. Fatigue is the main cause of depression today. Stimulants of all kinds become all the more attractive when you are tired and depressed.
17. UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DISCIPLINE AND A HABIT.
Changing habits requires discipline. Disciplines may look like habit, but with a difference. While habits are mainly unconscious, discipline is totally conscious. Discipline is not about forcing anything. The root of the word discipline is 'disciple'. It means following your spiritual path.
Learning how to self-discipline or discipline the self is a wonderful skill. It means being very gentle and compassionate with yourself, yet quite firm with yourself as well. It means knowing when it is time to quit trying so hard and just relax and do better the next day, for example. At other times, it means pushing yourself a little harder to make sure you do your best.
METHODS OF CHANGING HABITS
I recommend the bio-energetic, whole systems method of changing habits. This requires a complete nutritional balancing program. Let us explore this method, as it is quite unusual and not common knowledge.
1. A complete nutritional balancing program. Underneath many bad habits is a horrible state of health, or at least a mixed up brain chemistry that is slowing you down, often in dozens of complex ways. Many people’s brains do not process information fast enough or clearly enough. Their brains are somewhat like a car that is stuck in a rut. Most people are tired and ill today, even if conventional tests do not reveal it. Hair mineral analyses tell a different story, provided one knows how to interpret the test.
People in great health have less need for, and much less attraction to stimulants and to many bad habits. Their cells literally send out messages of happiness and joy all day, every day. The cells of most people, however, send constant messages of fatigue, gloom and despair. They are malnourished and often are drowning in toxic chemicals. I am sorry if this seems graphic, but mineral testing confirms it on a daily basis.
Many habits are the result of poor health. People self-medicate with strange habits from listening to loud music to using drugs. The poor health can be a very old problem, stemming from early childhood in some cases.. If you want to change your habits, work on your health.
However, beware because most natural approaches, diets, supplements and other methods do not work that well. This is because they are mainly symptomatic, and they have hidden negative effects, the main one being to make the body more yin. Almost all drugs, herbs, vitamins, diets, homeopathy, hormone therapy and other approaches do this! For more on this, please read Yin And Yang Healing on this website.
I only suggest a nutritional balancing program with one of the Approved Practitioners at www.drlwilson.com. Only these programs are very safe and effective in most cases. I know that sounds a little arrogant, but I think these programs are the best. They work in many ways, including:
- Improving your clarity of mind.
- Strengthening your will.
- Clearing traumas that block your mental and emotional well-being and sanity.
- Reducing stress on the body and mind.
- Restoring adrenal glandular activity, which is necessary to reduce stress and increase your adaptive energy level. More energy helps you to handle your bad habits.
- Nourishing you so that the mind works better.
- Reducing neuroses or mental fixations that keep you trapped.
- The cells will begin to send you happy messages, that help you not to need coffee, sugar, alcohol, anger and other less desirable behaviors and thought patterns in order to feel good about yourself.
- Exposing the truth of all things by correcting certain biochemical patterns that decrease awareness.
- Increasing your self-esteem by restoring your body and mind to their optimal functioning. Then you don’t need your bad habits to compensate for feelings of inferiority in some way.
- Making the body more yang in macrobiotic terminology can be a critical factor to help with habit change.
- The program may help in other ways, as well. For example, the presence of certain toxic metals in the body is associated with certain feelings that can cause a tendency for a particular bad habit. This is a complex subject, but our clients report often that as they correct their body chemistry, their desire for various foods, drugs and other things just goes away on its own.
The Roy Masters mental exercise done each and every day without fail for at least one hour.
This is part of every nutritional balancing program. I want to explain it in more detail, as it can be so important for habit change. The Roy Masters mental exercise with my modification is superb for changing habits. Mr. Masters states that bad habits will drop you if you do the exercise. In my experience, he is right if you do the exercise enough. This occurs because one day you suddenly see that the bad habit makes no sense at all, so you just automatically stop it. It can be that easy, although it can take a while, in some cases. Just be patient and continue the practice.
You don’t have to like Mr. Masters or agree with his attitudes. Just do the exercise, for which he does not take credit. He says he did it spontaneously as a child. It can help by:
- Calming the mind.
- Revealing hidden thoughts, emotions and agendas.
- Enabling you to step back and just witness your mind and emotions without needing to defend, justify, explain or react to your thoughts or feelings.
- Causing you to become grounded, centered and more realistic in your thoughts and feelings.
- Bringing a new energy into your brain and body that is sometimes called etheric energy, or God energy, or vital energy. This new energy is much healthier and, by itself, brings insights that are most helpful.
- Increasing the control the brain and soul have over the body. Moving energy downward forcefully, which is my modification of the exercise, moves mental energy into the body. Most people, unfortunately, move energy upward causing bodily sensations like hunger, thirst, cravings, sexual drive, a need to run away, etc. to influence the mind. This is always harmful.
- Improving mental focus and concentration. Some people simply cannot change their habits because they are easily distracted or cannot focus on what they want. As a result, they often appear and feel stupid and their memory and thinking are clouded. This goes away when one can focus the mind like a laser beam and keep it focused for hours, rather than minutes or even just seconds.
In this way, the exercise tends to mature a person mentally and emotionally, and this helps a lot when one wants to change any habit or behavior or thinking pattern.
2. Prayer. This ancient method works well. It opens a person to insights and can help one to also be receptive to help of other kinds. It represents a commitment to change, and the prayer “Thy will be done” also helps anyone to let go of the past at all levels. Prayer is always recommended with a complete nutritional balancing program.
3. Affirmations. These are statements or phrases or prayers, perhaps, that affirm or state what you want in your life. This is another very ancient method related to the previous one.
Care is needed with affirmations. The idea is not to brainwash yourself and leave reality, which some people do with affirmations. The purpose of an affirmation is, in part, to show you where your deep beliefs do not agree with what you say you want. So do not be surprised if an affirmation brings up conflict for you.
I use the 23rd psalm of David in the Old Testament of the Bible as an affirmation. You can safely use it every day, as many times daily as you wish .
Some other affirmations, however, are just lies and will get you in trouble. Some people just say “I am happy and healthy and everyone loves me”. Call me cynical but I don’t think there is enough truth in this to keep repeating it to yourself.
4. Gimmicks. There is nothing wrong with using various gimmicks to help you stay on track and to assist you with habit change. Gimmicks I have used are to eat better food, if not the best food, to eat before I go to the supermarket so I’m not hungry there and therefore will not buy junk food for that reason, calling a friend to help you deal with cravings, or putting up smile buttons around the house to remind you of what you want to do.
Do not feel these are silly or stupid. If it helps, use it.
5. Tracking. This is a simple feedback or awareness technique of keeping track of your progress using charts, for example, where one might fill in what you eat every day, how much sleep or rest you get, how many foot rubs, coffee enemas or anything else you wish to keep track of.
6. Journaling. This is another method of self-awareness in which you keep a diary of your activities, and your feelings and thoughts each day.
7. Professional counseling. This can be helpful to change habits, and is a common reason for counseling. There are a number of counseling techniques, although most often it is what is called cognitive therapy. This is a discussion format with the counselor in which one obtains feedback, guidance and often insights into one’s behavior to hopefully make it easier to change it.
8. Self-talk. This is another self-feedback in which one seeks to learn about oneself by observation, reading books, asking others, or other means.
9. Tapping methods such as EFT or Emotional Freedom Technique. This is a popular and very simple method of energy healing in which one taps certain places on the face and body, and at the same time may say certain phrases. The tapping seems to help fix the new ideas in the body.
10. Hypnosis or self-hypnosis. This can help by placing post-hypnotic suggestions in the mind that one then follows in a fairly unconscious manner. One could suggest to oneself or have a professional hypnotherapist suggest that one avoid sugar, for example, or that one will enjoy cooked vegetables a lot.
Another type of professional hypnosis is called hypnotic regression. It involves taking a person back to a past trauma that is causing problems in the present. For example, if a parent forced a child to eat their vegetables, perhaps the adult who experienced this still resents the parent and will not eat vegetables for this reason. If the original trauma can be lessened or undone, this blockage against eating vegetables might lessen or be completely removed.
11. Behavior modification. This is a form of conditioning or punishment-and-reward system for changing behavior. It is used a lot to train animals, for example, and to train children, as well. One can do it to oneself, for example, by rewarding behaviors that one desires to develop and punishing oneself for behaviors that one wishes to discourage.
12. Simplifying one’s life. Some people’s lives are so busy that there is little time to reflect, or to try out new behaviors or new diets, for example. In these cases, an excellent idea is to simplify one’s life and reduce unnecessary activities. This will assist anyone to observe one’s own behaviors and thus help a person to make necessary changes. It may also allow more time for sleep and rest, and it may allow more time to follow a nutritional balancing program with the Roy Masters meditation.
Simplifying one’s life is not always easy if one lives in a family with children, for example. However, most families and individuals waste some time, or do not spend time wisely. This definitely can use up one’s energy and interferes with a person’s ability to make changes in one’s life.
Ways that many people can simplify their life are to spend less time shopping, chat less on the phone or computer, spend less time surfing the web or on social media sites, and organize and plan trips in the car to save time on the road. Also, give up your negative thinking and reacting. Some people spend a lot of time being angry and cynical. Realize that all of this are choices are choices. You can choose again. Forgiveness and joy are just as easy if you allow them in and practice them.
When you slow down and relax or meditate, you may not like what you see, especially at first. However, there is great value in just seeing the truth. This is the first step to changing one’s habits and attitudes. Allow yourself to question all your beliefs, especially beliefs in victimhood, fear and injustice. Allow yourself to be guided by truth as it is revealed to you. It is there if you slow down and rest enough to let it in to your life.
Spend the extra time you will now have in simple ways such as:
- Rest and sleep a lot more, if you were not getting enough sleep.
- Eat slowly and consciously, rather than rushing through meals. Sit down and relax at mealtime.
- Set aside some quiet time each day, preferably when you will be alone. Some people use their sauna session for this, or their coffee enema time.
- Take a gentle, slow walk every day
These changes will tend to reduce the power of all your habits and help you think through the way you are living, so you can see how habits connect to each other clearly and change them.