If Habits Are Just Thoughts, Then………..

Habits – they’re everywhere!  Good habits, bad habits, habits we want to change, habits we want to create.  They are extremely useful, yet are we aware of them?  Do they serve us or do we serve them?

Let’s take a deeper look at habits from a “Come to the Edge Today” point of view.

There are two types of habits – action habits and thought habits.

Have you experienced this?  It’s early morning.  Your toiletries are scattered on the counter.  You remove the top of the deodorant container, raise your arm only to discover you have already put it on, totally unaware of having completed the task just a few seconds earlier.  (I do this frequently, by the way!)  A habit of action.

How about this?  You begin driving and “wake up” to discover you have arrived at your destination, literally driven there by habit – unaware of the details of the drive.  A habit of action.

Have you listened to your mind chatter?  Example:  The mind talk that goes on when you look at yourself in the mirror?  “OMG.  Ugly.  Old.  Fat.  What’s wrong with me?  I should be thinner….. (on and on and on…)”.  A habit of thought.

Another example:  “My family does not approve of me or my life choices.  I can do nothing right in their eyes.  It must be me.  I must change for them to earn their love.”  A habit of thought.

Both action and thought habits are tools.  Our life can be richer because of them. Because action habits originate from thought, we will focus the remainder of our time together upon thought habits.

Thought habits are nothing more than repeated, practiced thoughts.  (Any thought can be practiced into a habit; they can come from anywhere and do not have to show proof of legitimacy.)  A thought habit is only a thought that is thought and thought and thought until we become so familiar with it that we think it is “true”.  It becomes “a given”.  When we forget this and think we are bound by it, the habit now controls us.  It is what keeps us “stuck”.  Not only do we unknowingly think they are “true”, we often think these thoughts are who we really are!

Examples:

  1. The habit of seeing yourself as unworthy.  This is only a habit of thought!
  2. The habit of seeing yourself as lacking in money.  A habit of thought.  (And, since you get what you think about, guess what is showing up?)
  3. The habit of seeing others as being judgmental with you.  This habit shows itself to you as people always seeming to judge you.
  4. The habit of playing the victim or martyr in relationships. This too, is a habit of thought!

WOW!  If thought habits are nothing more than repeated, practiced thoughts, then the above examples can be changed to:

  1. The habit of seeing yourself as loved and worthy!  A new habit of thought!
  2. The habit of seeing yourself as abundant in all areas of your life (remember, you get what you think about! $)
  3. The habit of allowing others to hold their opinion of you.  Because you have developed the habit of believing you are worthwhile, it doesn’t matter what they think.  You become free of their opinion – favorable or not!
  4. The habit of believing you are loveable and respected and worthy of love in return (no more need for martyrdom)

Today’s “leaping” exercise:   How are habits changed?  Not by breaking them.  Breaking a habit only focuses more attention upon what is unwanted.  Deliberate, new habits are created.  This happens beautifully and powerfully by:

  1. Becoming aware of your thoughts!  Keeping a notebook of what you are observing is very helpful.
  2. Clearly deciding what you want your new habit to be (Be specific. Name it.  See it.  Feel it.)
  3. Committing to change.  Commit to your new creation.  This means committing to observing habits of thought, creating  new ones through focus and using diversion techniques** (see below) to mold thought. This means committing to it every hour, every day.
  4. Focusing solely on the new habit!!  By focusing only on what is wanted, the old habit will quickly lose its steam and soon the new thought will become a habit that serves you!
  5. Using your imagination and creativity.  Have fun developing and expanding this new idea!   Allow yourself to imagine becoming the “new you”!
  6. Persistence, persistence, persistence!  The current thought habit did not come overnight and the new one will take a little time.  Like getting in strong, physical shape, it comes with persistence and time.
  7. Being patient and enjoying the process!  Remember that living life is about enjoying the journey!

**The diversion technique:  Diversion is a fabulous tool for creating a new habit.  Have you observed a clever parent remove an unsafe toy from a toddler?  They do not yank it away, they use diversion: “Here, honey, look at this new toy – isn’t it wonderful?”   The same tool can be used by us.  Focus on the new thought and its advantages, not on the old one that is no longer serving you: “Here mind-of-mine, let’s play with this new thought!  Let’s just experiment with it, ok?” (If it works for a 2 year old, it can work for our clever little egoic minds that always want to stay busy.)  Works like a charm once you play with it a little!

Life at “Come to the Edge Today” is filled with deliberate, life-giving and freeing habits, and the beauty of it – YOU get to choose!  – Joan Kappes

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