“The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.”
Have you noticed how embedded our habits can be? Even with the best of intentions to act or feel differently, before we know it, we are barreling down a familiar track doing the same old, same old.
You want to change, but over and over you find yourself taking on another project when you’re already completely maxed, digging into that bag of chips, spinning in worry or self-criticism, captured in the same argument with someone, lolling about on the couch, again.
Wouldn’t you love to be free of your most confining habits? Imagine being in control rather than controlled, mindful rather than mindless, fully alive rather than stuck in a very deep rut.
Be Happy Now
There’s nothing wrong with habits, but when they detract from our joy in living life to its fullest, we owe it to ourselves to take a closer look at them. For it is our birthright to enjoy ourselves, to approach the moments of our life with openness and enthusiasm.
Simply said, we deserve to be happy.
Awareness Is the Key
So let’s get down to business and discover how you can step out of the prison of your habits. And it starts with being aware.
The nature of habits is that they occur outside of our conscious awareness. When we’re trapped by a habit, we are like a wind-up doll, programmed to play out the same behavior over and over. It’s a script we know by heart, and we act it out without thinking.
And this is great news! Once we realize that habits operate unconsciously, the way out becomes clear. We take each one and unwind it into its elements. We become aware of every nuance of thought, feeling, and reaction that makes up this habit.
Becoming an Expert
We develop into habit experts, knowing the habit so well and in such detail that we could write a thesis about it. And we don’t shy away just because what we discover is hard or painful.
Each moment is an opportunity to cast a vote for our happiness by becoming aware. And as we become aware, we realize the possibility of making a different choice.
Awareness is freedom. So if you long to be free, become aware of your habits. De-program yourself, throw away the script, and let the tracks of your habits be washed away.
A Strong Foundation for Becoming Aware
As we start to investigate habits, here are some important points to keep in mind.
It’s all in the present moment. The past is useful to learn about our patterns, but the rubber meets the road in the moment. So when you are triggered, when you feel your anger rising or you are reaching out for the ice cream when you know you don’t need it, this is the moment to be aware. No matter what you’ve done before, every moment offers an opportunity to be aware, to pause, to embrace your experience.
Awareness illuminates choice. As we untangle our habits by becoming aware of them, we notice options we never saw before. A friend was working on a habit of being concerned about what other people thought of her. As she investigated the pattern, she realized that people weren’t thinking about her nearly as much as she had assumed. She discovered a new option of not paying attention to a thought that wasn’t true. The result? Freedom.
Don’t force yourself to change. Rather than focusing on a goal, keep your attention on each moment. Lovingly embrace things just as they are. Take every fear and disappointment, every tension, every whirlwind of thoughts and create a warm and accepting space where they can be received. The habit can’t hold up to the power of loving attention, and change begins to happen effortlessly.
Your natural essence is whole and healthy. Habits are conditioned. We learn them to manage difficult feelings and situations. As we unwind our habits, the should’s, pressures, and rationalizations fall away. We realize that peace is possible, that freedom is available always.
A Loving Process for You
- Start by being curious and open, willing and patient.
- Bring to mind a habit you’d like to work on and a situation in which this habit played out.
- Begin to ask questions:
- Peel back the layers until all is revealed.
- Welcome these experiences like a long-lost friend. Say, “yes” to each one. This is the end of the inner fight and the beginning of real possibility.
-What am I thinking? What story am I telling myself? What expectations do I have?
-What am I feeling?
-What physical sensations do I notice in my body?
With great compassion, shed light on the experiences that make up your habits. They will start to fall apart right before your eyes, leaving you spacious, open, and happy.
What have you discovered about letting go of habits? How do you get stuck? I’d love to hear…