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 know people can get a little turned off when I mention the word “church”, but I was in church last week and we had a visiting priest from Africa. The Central African Republic to be precise.. anyway, he said that he was very interested to do the homily that week, because it was about Jesus’s (trigger word… bare with you) speech about being judged by those you know.
There is a part of the Bible in which Jesus speaks and everyone questions his authority, as he was just the son of a carpenter… and they knew of his humble beginnings.. and how could HE possibly be important. The Father went on to say how he knows how it feels. He came to this new church on the other side of the world and he was welcomed and respected, and though he loved his home there were always those that would never take him seriously because he was the kid that did…. what have you, 20 years ago.
When starting something new in life this is often a problem that people have. We are already set in our ways and it is difficult enough to start a new course and reprogram our own minds, but it is all the more difficult with the naysayers in our ears. I can remember when I was starting my health journey and I was cutting bad foods and trying to exercise more, and the hardest people to be around were the ones that were closest to me. The ones who were like, “oh… another diet” or “yeah, we can go out next week when you’re over your kick” or “it’s just a piece of cake” .. or pizza or what have you.. “It’s not a big deal. You’ve always eaten it before.”
There is something about human nature that people almost take it as a personal insult if you decide to change.. as if you’re trying to be better than the other person or that your change means that they should change as well.
As I have mentioned before people are very determined to stay the image that they have assigned for themselves. They like their habits. They know their identity. Anything outside of that makes them very uncomfortable. So if identity is permanent than you shouldn’t be able to change yours either. This is an extremely hard battle to wage when you’re already fighting your own mind.
A lot of people will tell you not to share your process or your plans with others. I’m not sure that I agree with that or not. I think it depends on your own resilience at that time (which can change from day to day and minute to minute), and also your opinion of the other person.. as well as a million other things. I do think that it is important to have a support system.. and that there are always those in your life that you KNOW you can’t depend on for support. Them, you avoid like the plague.
I believe this is why support groups like AA and weight watchers and the like are so important. Humans are, at our core, social beings. We need to connect with others. We need support, whether we like to admit it or not, but we can’t always get that at home with the people who are happy in the status quo or feel more comfortable holding our pasts against us. When it’s time for a change.. sometimes we have to make bold sweeping changes. We need to turn away from getting comfort in what’s familiar and move on to a new tribe if you like. The most important thing is not letting other’s define your identity.
I was watching an interesting video on YouTube today about whether or not we live in a simulated universe. These were real scientists, like Neil Degrass Tyson who was moderating it, and they had plausible arguments supporting the idea. I have seen the video a few times and always found it both fascinating and ridiculous at the same time.
Do we live in the Matrix and if so what does that mean to us? Today though, I noticed something that I had not before. One of them commented that if we were made as a game to entertain others that “You’d better go out and do something interesting as to not get deleted” and NDT joked that was what death was, it’s just someone getting bored with the character. I didn’t really think much of that analogy, as most of the world is full of very boring people… but what sparked in my mind is the idea of religion and the “creator” who has somehow spread the word that he/she is the best and that it is the people’s job to get other’s to follow that word.
Now for those who know about religions around the world, most aren’t that different in their content. It’s about worshiping a specific deity and loving each other and the best way to love one another is to get your neighbors to worship the same God. This message supposedly comes down from the creator of this world.
Now, anyone that knows anything about good TV and ratings knows that the more the drama the better the ratings. I, personally, am a big fan of the soap opera General Hospital. Recently one of the social media posts asked if a couple was basically deemed irrelevant once they were happily married.. if the drama ended? Everyone, even those who don’t watch traditional Soaps know that love triangles and evil twins are common place in that world. Anything that can create conflict, and there has been nothing on this planet that has created more conflict than religion.
So, if this is somehow a simulated reality in which a creator, in which ever form you choose decided to design a universe for their own entertainment purposes the first thing this creator would do is give the “people” something to fight about. Make them look different. Make them speak differently, so it’s more complicated to communicate. Make them all believe that they were chosen by the ultimate creator to be the chosen group.
Now, I don’t know if there’s a God, or a 15 year old computer geek who created an entire universe just to watch porn, but I know that in either case, hate and violence has a much higher rating than peace and tranquility. Just ask Dick Wolf (the creator of Law and Order). That one show lasted 20 years and had multiple spin offs, with very little main character development… it was all about the murder and mayhem.
The United States is a classic example of hate for the sake of hate. The whole country was created on the basis that ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL. We pride ourselves on being a melting pot and being of Christian values of loving and helping thy neighbor. We are the land of opportunity. We have a plaque that says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”. We have proud American’s talking about how we need to respect what other’s have given their lives for.. all while saying that we should keep out anyone that doesn’t look like, talk like, and think like us.
The United States of America was supposed to be a beacon of what it meant to be free. Freedom of speech, Freedom of Religion, free to love, free to live, free to be all that we can be, and yet.. somehow, some way, a large group of people have been programmed that unless you use that freedom to be a white, male, English speaking, Christian.. you have chosen wrong.
I’m not sure what can be done to undo the programming of hate, whether by an all powerful creator or just generations of all powerful fools.. but I think we need to look at what we all hold dear in those religious and philosophical texts. Love, peace, and kindness only wins out when we start acting that way towards everyone and respect the differences. Not when we keep expecting everyone to choose us as right.
Love… I mean real unconditional love. It was the topic of last week’s Mass at my church. Now, before you roll your eyes and click off, I am not here to spread my religion… nor do I believe there is only one spiritual path, and everyone is allowed to choose their own. The one thing that I do know is that any, and all spiritual awakenings begin and end with love. This does not mean romantic love, though it seems lately that’s the only kind people are actually interested. I mean true unconditional love.
Five years ago I became a mother. I thought I knew what love was before that. I had no idea. I had been in many relationships, some good some bad. I had one divorce behind me and another relationship that was headed for disaster. I had no idea how to love any of those men, but my son. That was easy. Loving my son was like breathing. I did it before I even met him. I loved him the second I saw that second line on the little stick telling me he existed. Though I didn’t even know that he was a he.
Two years and one month after my son was born my father died. That was my second lesson in love. True, unconditional love. The kind of love that… well, never dies. I was lucky. Growing up I knew that my father loved me. There was never any doubt. He said it and showed it everyday. Now, that didn’t mean he didn’t punish me when I acted up, or that he didn’t put me in my place when I needed, but he never made me doubt myself or him. My father was the one person I truly knew would always be there for me. He may have laughed at me when I did stupid things, and he may have wished me to make better choices at times, but he never once gave up on me, or made me feel like I was anything but capable and my life was full of possibilities.
I remember thinking a lot about family after that. I remember thinking about my past relationships and how or why they failed. I remember feeling like family was everything, and that the reason it is so is because we never give up on each other, and we never judge each other.
I have a brother. He and I couldn’t be more different if we were hatched from eggs on different sides of the planet. We like different music. We are on opposite sides of everything political. He thinks any kind of self help or therapy is a waste of time and feelings are for suckers. To him money and power are first and foremost… yet… When I needed his help; he was there. When I told him my plans for my business, he said, “I think you’ll be good at that”. He doesn’t have to agree with me or my beliefs to love me. Nor I his.
Last week in Mass, Father…. which ever one… talked about unconditional love in terms of Jesus.. and I get that, it’s kind of his thing, but he brought it around to the rest of us. He talked about how it’s the thing that is missing in the world today. We don’t like people who don’t look like us. Why should we help people who don’t live by us? If someone somewhere on the internet does something differently than we do… especially in parenting.. we basically commit a public stoning in the comments section.
We have forgotten to love. We have forgotten to love thy neighbor, where ever they may live. We have forgotten to love and respect our parents, and instead throw them in home when they become a burden. Most importantly, we have forgotten to show unconditional love to the person who matters the most. Ourselves. We bash ourselves. We poke fun at ourselves. We hate ourselves on a regular basis.
The words and phrases I mentioned above come from a particular text that you may or may not believe in, but that doesn’t lessen what they say. If I said that Jesus was not the son of God, but was the Tony Robbins of his day, just trying to help people be the best versions of them-self would that make a difference in your interpretations of those phrases? Does it matter who gives the advice if it’s the right advice? Does it matter how the words got corrupted if the source was genuine?
Nike’s tagline is “Just do it”. It’s simple yet elegant. It’s about getting out and being.. being active, being you.. just do it… They don’t even pretend to tell you what “it” is. They leave it to you to figure out for yourself. It is amazing advice. Yet, if some executive came out and said the “it” in “just do it” was “buy the shoes”. Just buy the shoes! Does that lessen the expression or the original intent? Nike originally paid a graphic designer just $35 for their trademark swoosh. They have since made billions of dollars and it’s one of the most recognizable logos of our time, does that change it’s worth. Does it change your opinion on the phrase, “just do it”? What if your knew that that slogan came from one of the founders of an ad agencies last words (I just Googled it.. maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not) does it matter?
If you believe that love, specifically unconditional love, is important. If you believe that you deserve that love; that everyone deserves that love… why does it matter who said it? Why does it matter where the message came from? And… what’s stopping you?
How often do we find ourselves holding on to some past slight with both hands as if letting go would prove to be a sign of weakness? How often do we feel as though we need to validate every action that we take as proof that we are better than some bugger from our past treated us?
I look around at this world, at social media, at the news and I find it very difficult to see the good that I know is out there. It seems that everyone has their chip on their shoulder or their person or group or reason to blame for something not going right in their life, or their happiness not being met.
I started following a single parent group on social media and every post that they put up was some sort of male bashing, I am woman hear me roar, cliche… Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for girl power, but not at the sake of half the population, and not all single parents are women. I, personally, was raised by a single dad who belonged to that same organization.
When I commented as such and that we shouldn’t be placing blame on any specific side, the moderator responded, “well, it can be used for men too”. That wasn’t the point. Firstly, none of the posts were about men, and secondly, most of the time when a marriage falls apart there is not one side to blame. Most of the time there is plenty of blame to go around so to have a support group who posts things that fan the flames of anger seems the opposite of support.
Part of growing is understanding what we have done wrong in our past. It’s understanding our faults and our mistakes and missteps so we can learn to avoid them in the future. If we spend all of our time ranting in our “support” groups about how we were wronged, or how every bad thing that happened fell upon the shoulders of another, then we are no more prepared for our next journey than we were for our last.
When I think of empowerment I do not think of all the ways that we are better than someone else. I do not think of all the things that we can and should be doing to bring down another person or group. I think of ways that we should raise ourselves and each other up. We do not need to steps on the heads of our perceived enemies in order to rise, we just need to give each other a hand or a leg up.
There is plenty of anger and resentment in this world, and it doesn’t actually help anyone. This isn’t just a male/female issue either, it’s time we let go of all of it. That bully from 3rd grade probably either doesn’t remember you so it’s not worth letting them have power over you now, or had more issues in his life than you could have in a lifetime and didn’t know how to express is. That teacher that made learning impossible was one year… how many years ago? Your parents… oh God.. your parents were a mess.. yup.. they were human. They made mistakes. They made poor choices… maybe they were straight up a**holes, but who cares? I mean really… they messed up enough of your years as a child, now you are the adult and you have the ability to make your own choices. Are you going to be one of those adults, like your parents, who constantly makes the wrong ones, or are you going to step up and learn from those mistakes.
I see so many people who make excuses about why they can’t hold jobs, or have good relationships, or be good parents, and usually it’s because of how someone treated them in the past. How does that make any sense? You are telling me that you have the right to be a loser.. because your parents were losers and you hated them for it? Umm… not to sound to harsh, but grow up.. live YOUR life. Tomorrow your parents will be gone, that bully will be a memory, and those feelings… they can either percolate and control your future, or they can be released.. and you can understand that no one, not even parents or teachers, are perfect. That we all have our demons. We all make our own choices based on our own limited experiences… which experiences do you want to shape your life? Which life do you want to grow?
We have all heard of Dante’s Infernal and the 7 deadly sins, it’s been used in countless movies and TV shows including “Seven”, “Charmed”, and “Supernatural”, just to name a few, but I always used to wonder why they were so horrible in the eyes of the after world (whichever after world you choose is fine). The more that I thought about it the more that I realized they had nothing to do with what happens next. They are all about this world… hence, deadly. These are the things that kill us and our spirit, our drive in this world.
We are all aware of addiction as a horrible disease. People who suffer from it destroy not only their own lives but cause serious damage to those around them. When a person is so consumed with something outside of them-self they can’t manage to do or think about anything else.. they put other things on the back burner.. they lose them-self to that addiction that is a deadly sin.
Now think about what those 7 deadly sins are:
Gluttony: which could be seen as food, or drink, or drug. The way it was used in Charmed was even shopping.. it’s obsessing over something. Some people use the expression “A glutton for punishment” because they always seem to go back to those that hurt them.
Sloth: The act of giving up on life.. seriously. You have no motivation to do anything. We all have those days, mine are usually on Sunday, when we just want to stay in our pjs and pretend the world away, and occasionally that is fine. But if you become the person who doesn’t want to get the new job, doesn’t want to go out with their friends, doesn’t want the new relationship.. out of fear, or anger, or just laziness, then you can watch years go by without actually doing anything. That’s just a slow death.
Lust: This one is a bit tricky. There of course is the sex addict, but I feel with a glutton definition that kind of falls under that category, but what about those people that will do anything to be in a relationship. It doesn’t matter what. They will change themselves, give up their own rights, their own principles. There are people who just don’t feel complete without the status of relationship on their facebook profile.
Then there’s the flip side. Those who are in perfectly great relationships, but need can’t be satisfied. They need to chase the high of “catching” a new romantic prospect. I have met a few people like this. They are the ones that have the affairs, not because they have fallen out of love with their spouse, but because they have an innate need to be wanted. This is very similar to the person who always needs the relationship. These people always need to prove that they are good enough to get the next one, and more often than not they lose the good thing that they already have.
Envy: This one is just a relationship killer. Any relationship, not just the romantic one. This is the one that makes you fight with your spouse over a smile at the wrong person, we get that, but it’s also the one that makes you shy away from interacting with those that you deem better for some reason. Whether you feel the other is better looking, smarter, or more successful, you either put them in a category of stuck up and therefore not someone that you would want to associate with, or you put them into a category of someone out of your league in which case you couldn’t possibly be someone they would want to know.
On top of personal relationships it’s what stops you from going for the job, the promotion, the bigger and the better, because you feel that there is no way that “I could possibly be the best candidate when there are so many more out there that are… smarter, more educated, have more experience” or whichever “truth” you decide fits your explanation. The only thing this does for us is keep us scared and incapable of moving forward.
Greed: Now this seems like it should go the opposite of envy and sloth and should be a great motivator to help someone be successful, but I guess that depends on your definition of success. Greed is not to be confused with ambition. It is great to have goals and be ready and willing to work and fight for those goals. It is a deadly sin when you start crossing lines and stealing, manipulating, and using others just to get what you want. When you start to realize that you have elevated the money or the prestige to be more important than the people around you you start to realize how much you have really lost.
Pride: This is another one that seems like it should be good, until you see it blown out of proportion. How many times have you heard of a family falling apart over pride. It could be a marriage or parents and children who don’t speak for years or even decades over something.. that half the time they can’t remember, or can’t admit wasn’t a big deal. Pride is a dangerous animal. It keeps you from giving up your principles and makes us all stronger for it, but it can be a huge stumbling block once it’s been damaged. There are many out there that hold so tightly to their pride they can’t even give the next person a chance for fear they may be made a fool again.
Wrath: This one is huge. This one is one that we see crippling nations and destroying civilizations. This is the one that needs an enemy. This is the one that needs to place blame on anyone else. This is the one that creates wars. Usually this one is a combination of the rest. This is the one that comes about when someone who is being greedy, and prideful feels envious and they obsess over who they can blame for their apathy. This is when we look for problems to to criticize others over instead of solutions to bring about peace and resolution. We are too angry to see anyone else’s perspective. We are too angry to see our part. The only thing we can do is accuse, and hurt back… and that’s never solved anything.
So as important as the afterlife is to most of us, the only life we actually have control over right now is the one that we are currently living. How do you want to spend your days? Do you want to do, see, and accomplish as much as you can? Do you want to love, learn, and experience all of the wonders that this life has? Or do you want to blame, ridicule, and waste the little time that you do have to be the person you always dreamed you could be?