Habits are really hard to break. It doesn’t matter how many tricks you read about, it doesn’t matter if there’s a “change your habits in 28 days… or your money back”. You may as well ask for the money back now, because habits are hard to break. Now, that is not to say that they are impossible and you’re stuck with it forever.. but it’s going to take work.
I know someone who every time he walks past the kitchen he opens the refrigerator. He is constantly surprised by this fact. He could have just finished eating dinner and just walks into the kitchen to throw away a piece or paper.. he opens the refrigerator. He can be walking through to head up to his bedroom or to the bathroom.. opens the refrigerator. It drives him insane. He doesn’t even mean to, it just happens. It’s a habit.
I know someone else who has to have the TV on at all times. She walks into the house and automatically turns on the TV, whether or not there is something she wants to watch or not she turns it on and scans or searches or just keeps it on for background. This inevitably causes her to sit and watch instead of doing things on her “to-do” list, but it’s a habit. She doesn’t think about it, she just does.
I saw a meme on social media today about how parents are advised to put something “important” in the backseat with their babies as to not forget them, and people are going crazy, “what is more important than your baby!”.. but this is not about important, this is about habit. People so commonly do things out of habit they sometimes are at a detriment to themselves or their loved ones.
One man eats when he’s not hungry. One woman sits mindlessly watching TV. One parent drives to work on auto-pilot forgetting that it’s his/her day to drop the baby at daycare. All are important, some just have a more immediate result. All are the result of habits. Drug abuse is often called a “habit” and to a certain extent it is. When someone starts to feel a certain way they turn to what has worked in the past.. their “habit” for feeling better.
There are good habits and obviously there are horrible habits. All are easier to create than to make. So when you see something that says, “break habits in 28 days” what it’s really saying is create new habits.. that is possible.. but again.. not all habits are good, and even good habits designed to take the place of bad habits are not as easy to make/break. If you want to make it a habit to take off your shoes every time you walk into a house.. sure, a month later it may just be ingrained in your head, you may not even think about it. Your neuro-pathways have been sparked and you have reminded yourself enough that it’s habit. Same as your drive to work.. it’s auto-pilot.
If you want to stop yourself from looking in the fridge, or get yourself into a new exercise routine, or find better ways of coping with problems than drugs.. that’s going to take time. That’s going to take more than reminding yourself for a couple weeks. That’s going to take creating a new sense of self.. because those habits are linked to your personality, your ego. Those habits are part of what makes you you and how you see yourself as a person.
If you want to break major bad habits you have to decide that you are not a person who does these things. You are a non-smoker. You are a healthy person. You are strong. Because the moment you are a fat person trying to act differently your brain stops listening. The moment that you are an addict trying to be better.. you’ll have all the excuses why you it is who you are. You can’t go to the gym.. you’re too fat, people will laugh. It’s ok if you eat the cake.. you’re fat.. and everyone else is. It’s ok if you use again today… all your friends are and you don’t want to lose your friends.
You are not those things. You are a being that inhabits a body. You are whatever you tell yourself that you are. If you decide that you are healthy and are only going to do healthy things, and keep that in your mind, your heart, and your self.. your ego will evolve. Your habits will form. New habits, based on who you decide that you are. If you are an excuse… then you’ll never run out of those.
I have to start by saying I love the film “Into the Woods”.. yes I know that it is also a play, but I haven’t see that.. and it’s pretty much the same thing. (spoiler) Anyway, it’s one of those fairytale stories with the morals all mixed in. There’s the one about honesty and the one for being true to yourself and going after your dreams but not forsaking others… and on and on.
The finale of the movie is my favorite, though. It’s a song about being careful what you put out into the world. There is a new baby and a scared father and the words are to be careful the things that you say, as children will listen. Careful the things you do, children will learn. It explains how children are constantly picking up on everything that we do and say. If we say that they’re lazy, they will believe it. If we say that they’re bad… they will believe it. If we say that we are bad or not worthy.. they will believe it.. and will learn the same of themselves. Our words and actions will become their words and actions.
Now if that isn’t impressive enough, then it gets into a refrain and it changes..
Careful the wish you make
Wishes are children
Careful the path they take
Wishes come true, not free
Careful the spell you cast
Not just on children
Sometimes a spell may last
Past what you can see
And turn against you
Careful the tale you tell
That is the spell
It starts to talk about the words that we say to ourselves and how we create our own stories based on these words. We create our own reality as we begin to hear and say these words over and over.
It’s very common for someone to put all of their faith into an outside event and believe that their life cannot be complete until we get that love interest.. or the job, or the education, or the right body/looks.. and so forth. We tell ourselves this “story” so often that we can’t see past it. We can’t move forward in anyway until we reach that goal. Now sometimes this is a good thing, and it motivates us to strive for our best… but sometimes it holds us back from creating the life we truly want.
The other story that we like to tell ourselves is all of the reasons that our past is our problem. We have never succeeded in life because.. our parents were jerks, our exes left us, we didn’t finish school.. we’ve always been….. and that’s our story. That’s who we have become> we no longer have hopes and dreams and motivations.. we simply have our fallback “reasons” for our problems.
All of these are nothing but words.. nothing but stories, and fairytales. Our lives are not our past or our future, our lives are the choices that we make everyday. So be careful the things you say.. and do.. they are you.
I was listening to an old broadcast, which I like to do, about the Law of Attraction and I heard the most interesting analogy. I had heard the woman speak before, and I knew her story about not having enough diapers for her son when he was a baby and deciding right then and there to change her life. I remember being very stricken by the story as I looked at my own baby boy the first time that I heard it, but she the comment she made this time shook me.
She said that she had to be ready to die to create a new life for herself. Now I remember thinking this long ago when I thought about those who were suicidal and how the thought of feeling so desperate that they had to die instead of just leaving everything behind and starting anew, and that’s basically what she was saying. She wasn’t suicidal, but she had to be ready to let go of her entire past, her world, her friends, and even her identity to become the person that she dreamed of being.
I don’t know much about Tarot card readings but I know that the death card comes up a lot in movies to freak people out.. but the true meaning of the card is just major change. It can be either good or bad but something in your life has to end.. or die.. in order for something new to begin.
I see it a lot in both my personal life and my practice, where a person really wants their life to change… but they don’t really want to change. They want to lose weight, but they don’t really want to give up pizza and crashing on the couch watching 5 hours of TV at night.. it’s who they are.. and that is true. They are the person who eats pizza in front of the TV and is 60lbs over weight. In order to not be that person they need to change.
They want a new job and a better career path, but they don’t want to do any work to learn a new skill in order to move into another field or up the ladder. They want a new relationship but don’t want to change the types of guys they date or where they meet them. They don’t want to become something more desirable to a different caliber person. Now, I know I’m going to get people who disagree with this and say that people shouldn’t have to change to get others to be interested.. and to a certain degree that’s true.
No one should change their core beliefs, no one should pretend to be something that they’re not. No one should be made to feel like they are wrong or less than.. but that is different than someone working to better themselves in order to create a better life. I remember dating guys in my 20s who were very nice and sweet but just not going anywhere in their lives and I wanted more out of mine. I wanted someone who had hopes and dreams no matter what they were and when I explained that to them they said that they could change.
That to me was not an option. That to me was someone changing for the wrong reasons. I’m not talking about someone becoming the an ideal imagine that someone specific wants. That’s not staying true to yourself, but after I realized that I didn’t have the life that I wanted and that I wasn’t living my best self or meeting men that were living and being what I wanted I had to reevaluate my life. What did I want? Who did I want to be? And what was holding me back? Was it my friends who always just wanted to go out for dinner and drinks instead of outside activities? Was it dates who just wanted to sit around and eat pizza and play video games or watch movies instead of going to museums or having inspirational conversations? What did I want in my life, and what would I have to cut and change to get that.. and be that?
It is perfectly acceptable to change your entire world and let go of people who do not want what you want or at least want to help or encourage you to get what makes you happy. It is not the same as changing to make someone else happy. Sometimes you need to pull the plug on your old life support system to get the recharge to start a new one.
Can our thoughts change anything? That’s an ongoing theme in my writing and my studies and something that, at this point, I can’t understand how anyone doesn’t believe it.
I was raised with this belief. On my wall as a child I had a poster that said, “If you believe it, you can become it”. My father would often tell me to watch the words that I said to myself, as I would believe them. If I complained of being tired, I was really just making myself feel more tired. When I doodled in my notebooks that I loved a boy in my teen years, my father told me that I was actually hypnotizing myself into those thoughts. That any thought, repeated, especially subconsciously would become a belief in my mind, and therefore true.
We all have a million thoughts a day, some good some bad. We all tell ourselves things and then love or hate the thing when it comes to fruition, but to me, the most important thoughts that people have are the thoughts of how they feel.
When I’m on social media I’m constantly seeing jokes and memes about how much everyone is miserable and everyone hates their lives. Depression and anxiety are at an all time high and medication is being passed around like candy. Now, while I’m not opposed to medication as a whole, I do feel that we, as a society are overly medicated. Everyone believe in the power of instantly feeling better as long as it’s prescribed by a doctor, as long as it’s “science”.
Yet, if someone says to “cure” most forms of common depression (I’m not talking about severe clinical depression.. though it can help) that one just needs to cut junk food (especially sugar) and get some exercise (especially outside) and meditate/practice gratitude.. they are considered a crack pot.. but science says it’s true.
We, as humans, are completely controlled by how brains and our nervous system. Our feelings are just a consequence of glands secreting substances and our neurons firing. If we need to feel happy we need chemicals in our system like Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Endorphins.. so we take artificial ones to trick our brain into being happy.. but our bodies can actually make those chemicals themselves in simple ways. We can think about something happy and we automatically smile and feel better. We can hug someone we love. We can even listen to music.
It’s amazing to me how much outside stimuli can change one’s whole perspective. I was driving home the other day after a long hot cranky 5 year old afternoon and I was feeling very drained. Not so much depressed at this point, but just exhausted. One of those days when I was thinking dinner at 4 and bedtime at 6.. then an old song came on. Ironically it was a song about remembering old times (New Kids on the Block; I remember when… yup.. that’s my life) and I was instantly transported back to my 8th grade semi-formal. I could remember my dress and my friends and a bittersweet feeling rushed over me.
I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t sad.. but I also wasn’t tired anymore. I felt spirited, just as I did 30 years ago at the prospect of leaving behind middle school and starting up with all my friends at the high school. I remembered the petty fights and the ridiculous clothes and the cute boys and I actually giggled to myself. I was no longer sitting in my truck with a cranky kid after fighting with him about EVERYTHING that day. I was in my middle school courtyard on a beautiful June evening laughing with my friends and wishing Joey McIntyre was actually singing to me.
I have had similar experiences with smells and sunsets, and even seeing my son sleeping at the end of a long day.. when everything seems to disappear and the only thing that matters is that moment, that second in all of time. No one can tell me that my thoughts don’t create my reality. I know that I don’t have to be miserable just because the world is not perfect.. the world is filled with perfection.. I just have to be happy and open enough to see them.
I don’t get the whole taboo way of thought about mental health. I grew up with a mother who was schizophrenic. I had no problem telling people this, and people always are shocked by my openness. My son’s father has mental health and addiction issues and when I mention this people hush me. I have an aunt who is actually educated as a therapist and the thought of me telling anyone that my ex is a drug addict makes her cringe.
I don’t get it. These are illnesses. If my son’s father had cancer should I keep that hushed? My father had diabetes, and there was no problem with me talking about that. Most mental illness can be, at least helped, by medication and or different cognitive therapies… don’t we want this?
Healthcare is a huge topic of discussion right now. Gun violence is a huge topic of discussion right now… two rich celebrities within a week of one another lost their battles with mental illness and killed themselves, and yet, no one actually wants to talk about mental illness. I mean, people will wear colors or post memes and pictures to commemorate the fallen, but no one wants to actually talk about what’s going on in this world… with themselves or their loved ones.
No one wants to understand how someone can loose all hope. No one wants to acknowledge the reality that is illness. They want to point fingers. They want to call the fallen weak and selfish and pathetic. They want to pretend that they are just so much stronger and would never be that desperate, but the truth is mental illness is everywhere and can affect anyone. The only way we can do anything to prevent any suicides and mass killings is to talk about mental health and to make it a safe and open environment for everyone to seek help.
If I break my leg I’m considered an idiot if I don’t go to a doctor.. but if something in me is broken. If I’m feeling just too sad, or too angry, or too fearful then I’m just a miserable person that needs to get over it and it’s my problem. If I try to seek help for my health them I’m labeled crazy. If I reach my breaking point and I do something desperate I’m the villain, even in the case of self hurting (suicide and/or drugs).. I’m not a victim… I’m out to hurt my loved ones.
I’m on social media a lot. There are all kinds of jokes, and memes about being miserable, hating other people, and feeling overly insecure, anxious, or stressed. This is completely normal and laughable. It’s become a staple in our society to be miserable. Relationships are designed to break our hearts, jobs are designed to break our spirits, and friends are only there to commiserate with. Anyone who talks about good things in life or wanting more are laughed at as if they’re delusional.
We have become a society of miserable, overly self medicated, unhealthy carbon sacks… and when anyone among us expresses that we have a real problem we are told that it’s all “in our heads” and that everyone is hopeless and not to feel special. WHAT?!?!?!?
Why would anyone want to be despondent? Maybe if we all had to get evaluated regularly with our mental health like we do with our physical health.. maybe just maybe… we wouldn’t be as sick, on all ends.
Forgiveness, it’s something people talk a lot about, but I don’t think most people understand. Most people think of forgiveness in terms of the old adage “forgive and forget” but that implies that forgiveness is about the other person. It implies that you’re letting someone off the hook for their bad behavior or for hurting you, but that’s not the way that I see forgiveness.
To me forgiveness is letting go.. not for them, but for you. I recently had an ex contact me. We’ve all had this ex.. in fact it wouldn’t surprise me if we all had this exact same ex, he did tend to get around.. I digress. This ex put me through the ringer. He was a huge cheat, great at gaslighting and making himself appear the victim while trying to make you feel like he wouldn’t have to cheat, or blow you off, or whatever damaging thing he did, if you didn’t_____ fill in with what ever you feel is your biggest flaw is.
For years this man plagued every relationship that I was in. He would contact me in an effort to get back together swearing that he changed. He never did. I got to the point that I ran so hard and fast away from him that I married the next man to come along.. not because I loved him, but because I never wanted to feel love again. He still played with me and I ended up ending my marriage. I put on 10s of pounds with my self esteem crashing into the abyss. He was both the man of my dreams and the reason why I could never trust another man as long as I lived. He was a huge scar that didn’t seem like it could ever heal.
After dealing with his crap for almost a decade I finally walked away. I was with, who I thought, was a great guy. I ended up having the most amazing little boy in the world. I had huge REAL tragedies and wonderful adventures, all without him. I went through the hardest year of my life, and even though I had the urge to call him so he could “make me feel better”, the more that I thought about him, the more I realized he just caused me pain.
That led to the opposite affect. Instead of wanting to call him I started to get angry at him. Blaming him for wasting so many of my years. Years that I could have met someone else. Years that I could have started a family earlier and given my father and son a chance to actually know each other. This created a fierce bitterness in me, and it started to bleed into other things that I did. I had real trouble creating any form of relationship. I had trouble trusting men at all, but I knew that I didn’t want to live like that.
I have spent the last 3 years working on every aspect of my life. I have concentrated on being the best mother that I can be. I have focused on becoming healthy physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I have created a life and a person that I really enjoy, but there was always something nagging at me. A song would come on the radio, or someone who make a face or use a phrase that I would say and that pain would strike like a hot dagger and I my blood would begin to boil. I hated him, and I started to question why. Why did I give this man that I knew in my 20s so much power over who I have become in my 40s. It has now been almost a decade since I have seen him and I still feeling trapped by him. Trapped by the feelings of wanting him and hating him.
He has followed me on many social media platforms over the years and came up on my Linkedin a couple months ago. In my haste to delete the suggestion I accidentally went into his profile.. that of course got me thinking about him and all of the damage that I needed to let go of. I ended up looking back at his profile one night… debating on whether or not to break down and just contact him when a contact request came in. I just went for it. I accepted the request and within 5 seconds there was a message from him.
It was all very pleasant. We caught up. He asked about my son whom he had seen on one of the social media platforms. He asked about his father and told me he was sorry to hear about mine passing. We talked about the basic stuff that anyone catching up would talk about. Then he asked me why I accepted his request after all of this time, and the truth is that I needed to. I needed to forgive him not for his sake but for my own. I needed to forgive myself for all the time I wasted being angry. I needed to talk to him again to see that he wasn’t the devil, but just some guy with just as much damage and confusion in his life as we all have. I had to take my power back.
And you know what? It felt really good. I may never talk to him again, or we could become those people that check in every once in a while just because, or he could even become my next best friend.. anything is possible. But the one thing he won’t be is a drain, because I deserve better than that.
The other day was my son’s birthday, and I was watching him run around with his friends. He was doing this silly dance that he thinks is so cool, and I was just in awe of his wonderfulness. I couldn’t believe how great of a son that I have. For those of you who have children you know this feeling. You know how it feels to love someone so uncontrollably and completely. You know how it feels to love unconditionally.
I’ve given a lot of thought to unconditional love. The love between a parent and a child is the most obvious kind. I knew no matter what I did as a child that my father would never stop loving me. I knew that no matter how many times he grounded me for “nothing”, in my teenage brain, that I would never stop loving him. It is true. My father died 3 years ago… and I still have never stopped loving him.
Unconditional love is spoken about a lot.. almost as a fairy tale. As if it were an ideal that people could never actually live up to. Relationships fall apart just as fast as they come together. Divorce rates are growing while marriage rates are dropping. No one can say forever anymore, and because of that unconditional love seems like the unicorn of feelings… but here’s the thing. Love isn’t about staying together. Love isn’t about rings. Love doesn’t even have to be romantic.
When I think of unconditional love I think of those who are in my family. My father, my brother, my son… and those we choose to consider family, my God daughters. Those are the people that we love “more than ourselves”, and that I feel is where the biggest problem lies. It’s not that we can’t feel unconditional love for another person. It’s that we’ve lost the ability to feel unconditional love for ourselves. We are our harshest critics. We undermine ourselves all the time. We second guess. We insult. We ridicule. We don’t even have the ability to take a compliment from someone else anymore.
We see it all the time. Someone says, “you look good today” or “you did a really good job at..” and suddenly we have to come up with all of these reasons why it wasn’t actually our doing. We have to try to sound modest. But it’s not modesty. It’s the uncomfortable feeling of being praised. We’re not used to it. In our heads all day we hear, “oh you look fat”, “you totally messed up that spelling bee in 3rd grade what makes you think you can land this big contract”, “look at him and his nice suit he’ll get this job over you.. who are you?”, “why would anyone love you when there’s someone like her out there?”. These are the words we tell ourselves and then we wonder how we could possibly have trouble loving other people.
We never think about the damage that self deprecation actually causes. We think that we’re helping. Next time you find yourself hearing these words in your head think about how you would feel if someone ever said them to your kids or your parents. Think about whether or not you would ever say those words to someone you love… and… don’t you deserve the same love?
I have a friend who has been stuck in a rut for some time now. He took some advice from another life coach that he talked to. (It’s not good to coach your own friends…. they’ll get mad at you for calling them on their crap) This person gave him a list of different things to do for two weeks to “cleanse his bad luck” or karma or what have you.
This person uses modes that I don’t use myself, things like lighting certain colored candles and pouring salt, it’s all very pagan traditions… which is fine, just not my cup ‘a. Anyway… the whole point is to get the person to try new things and to spend more time in their own head. There is a lot of sitting in silence and meditating.. which I do believe in.
One of the days he had to eat as a vegan. No animal products. No meats, no cheese, no butter. He had no idea what was left. He was at my house for the evening, kind enough to watch my son while I had to go out for a bit. I told him that I had some pasta that he could have. His response… “Sauce has meat”…. um… not all sauce. Not my tomato and basil sauce… and “Why is the spaghetti different colors?”. It’s a tri-colored, veggie based pasta….. Nope… he wasn’t going to try it.
Now the whole point of this exercise is to try new things. To get out of your own head. To believe that things can be done differently. Not eating animal products for one day is not going to change your health or do anything for you except… get you to think outside the box and try something new. That’s how we change.
Now I love my friend, and this is not written to knock him.. as I said, never coach a friend, they will take criticism as an insult, but it is to point out that you only get out of coaching what you put into it. You can only change your life as much as you’re willing to change yourself. I have had this problem myself for years. I had spent over a decade denying my habits and my weight issues. I spent many years in crappy relationships hoping the other person would change. I am in no way perfect, but since losing my father I have learned that you get from life what you put into it. I want my son to learn the good habits and the best self thoughts.
If you want to be healthy.. you have to BE HEALTHY. If you want to be rich, you have to do the work.. you have to find your niche, you have to take a chance. If you want a fabulous relationship.. you have to let go of the old ones. You can’t change other people.. and you can’t change your life without… CHANGING YOUR LIFE.