The biggest downfall when trying to break bad habits is to rely on willpower to carry you through the storms and emotional turmoil that comes with every change.
Simply because willpower is fragile and emotions change with the wind.
It's only human to give into pleasure as we are hedonistic creatures baseline.
That, however, does not mean that we should tolerate it.
What we need to do in order to create the life that aligns with our core values, is to outsmart our tricky mind and create a strong fundament that will support us through change.
When working with any client who wants to change something in his/her life - whether it be breaking an addiction or simply dealing with the stress of life in healthier ways than emotional abuse and/or binging behaviors, I always start out with assessing what they are getting out of their current behaviors.
How can we create a substitute to avoid creating an empty, hollow void when abstaining from their previous "filler".
This is CRUCIAL to understand. It is useless to abstain from behaviors without filling the void with something else.
Humans do not like emptiness, and we will do anything and everything to avoid feeling that empty space.
Even create drama that is completely uncalled for, just to escape feeling the void. This is why so many of us are addicted to complaining, whining and playing the victims - we prefer this over taking responsibility and let go of destructive choices, which will inevitably result in that we need to lean into an empty space til we figure out what it is, that we really want to have in our life.
We get addicted to the feeling of fullness - even if that comes from misery.
Intense drama and misery actually results in a spike in our natural painkillers, beta-endorphines, kind of creating a natural high/numbness from life temporarily. The only way to break this is to make a conscious choice to play the cards that we have been dealt differently to make for a different outcome. The more we search for excuses, reasons why we can't, don't etc., the longer we spiral out of control, deeper into misery.
Below is a sample of how I work with changing old behaviors and trading them for new ones that will rewire the pathways of pleasure trigger-points in your brain.
And after having worked consistently with this for typically a couple months, you will find that you can let go effortlessly of your old habits.
You are now free of the chains of whatever was causing you to feel like a victim before.
Do not underestimate the power of small, simple steps - after all that is why staircases are so popular: many small steps lead to mountains of change.
Embrace the change - step into the wind.
Fill out below and put on your fridge as a daily reminder.
My keystone habit:_________________________
My current Cue:____________________________
My current Routine:_________________________
My current Reward:_________________________
My new Cue: ______________________________
My new Routine:___________________________
My new Reward:___________________________
Here is an example of what it could look like for someone:
My keystone habit: Emotional Eating
My current Cue: I turn on the TV and drop into the sofa (to eat).
My current Routine: I skip breakfast, I work overtime and come home and open the freezer to disconnect.
My current Reward: Letting go of control and feeling comforted.
My new Cue: I go straight into the bathtub after work.
My new Routine: Eating 3 square meals and take a swim in the ocean or simply a herbal bath when I get home from work to recharge.
My new Reward: I lower my stress levels, my body+mind gets stronger and I respect myself and my body without the crash and burn from abusing food.
What this simple exercise does is, that it creates for the ability to THINK before you react.
The more conscious you get, the easier it gets to let go of something that initially felt like it was hardwired into your brain. Initially you may still find yourself in the cookie cabinet after your herbal bath, and that's OK.
The point is simply to delay the pattern of what you usually did out of habit - because THAT breaks the impulse slowly, but surely until you can effortlessly let go.
This is the science of neuroplasticity in practice - how to retrain your brain to form new happy behaviors rather than living a life of deprivation and constant struggle with willpower.
The biggest obstacle is to let go of that black/white thinking where you expect perfection and that your new habits just happen overnight.
What you want is to change whatever it is you get pleasure from, so that you naturally let go. This is so super powerful once you start applying it into your life. The thing is, most of us never do, and thus we never change.
We tend to think of change, as something that is this big peak to climb, and we feel like we should be climbing it like running a marathon; so we give up before we ever started.
Do not let your mind trick you into telling you, that you are not strong enough, not worth enough. Outsmart it by being OK with the process - the journey to change. Accepting where you are right now in all its chaotic imperfecton.
In the end, that is all that matters in life. Whether we take the journey, the steps... or we refuse to let go and hang on to that fragile branch hanging over the cliff, which will eventually break, and we will fall so very far.
Take a small step today.
Just to show yourself, that today is different - and this will mark the rest of your journey.
However slowly you move matters not. What matters is that you are no longer stagnant.