Besides the fact that they can creep up on you, the one thing that I recently discovered about habits, and which whacked me sideways, is that it doesn’t have to be an action. It can be an emotion.
You could understand the idea that you get into a habit of grabbing a cookie at 3PM every day. But did you think you could get into a habit of being angry… of being irritated…of jumping the gun? Did you think that you could develop a habit around an emotional response? Well, yes, you can.
Until such time you realise and make the connection that you can make a habit of a particular emotion, you may be going down the wrong path of diagnosing your problem and coming up with effective solutions. So, how do you deal with something like this? Here’s what I did.
1. I didn’t give up.
I knew that I had a problem I needed to get fixed. When the pain presented by the problem is greater than the joy derived from continuing as is, you will do what it takes to figure things out. I can’t say that there are quick fixes out there, some things have taken me years to realise and discover. But the key is to figure out what your priorities are. If this is a priority to you, you will find a way. You simply will because you will keep trying and knocking things down, one at a time, until you reach the solution that works. There’s no magic there.
2. Keep an open mind. Keep looking.
I kept reading, looking out for ideas, clues. When all is aligned in that one goal, strangely, it seems like things begin to open up. You see things you realise you had not seen before. You explore new ideas, you test them out, you adapt them to your needs. You keep going.
3. Do something.
This can’t be a theoretical exercise though. If it stays in the realm of something to read and understand only, nothing happens. You have to do something, take action in some way. Persist. The greatest and best way to learn is simply to do, fail, try again. And repeat.
4. Be mindful.
I think it’s fairly easy to go through life without really living. Many already do. Going through the motions, getting caught up in what’s happening around you and trying to keep up, maintaining a particular approach to your work, your relationships and your life… it’s hard to always be mindful. Since I started focusing on this, I can see how painfully slow the growth in this area is. Frequently, I see the mindfulness kicking in after the fact. Or it might kick in halfway when I am reacting to something, as opposed to choosing my response. It is frustrating and it’s in moments like that that I go back to 1, 2, 3 above.
So, what works for you, what do you think?