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.
What would you do if you could do anything? I remember playing that game as a kid.. when you’re really little it’s things like fly or shoot laser beams out of your eyes or what ever. As we hit our teens it’s date a famous person or travel the world or get a Lamborghini. By the time we’re adults it’s things like, sleep.. or eat chocolate without getting fat.. or maybe something practical like buy a house.
We live a lot of life and as that life goes on we lose the magic that makes life worth living. I have a 5 year old and I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up.. he’s torn, either an alligator tooth brusher or a jungle swinger… but thinks maybe he can do both. He doesn’t just think outside the box.. he doesn’t understand that there even should be a box, and much like a cat.. if there is a box anywhere around it will soon become one of his favorite toys.
There is something fundamentally sad about “growing up”. It’s not the fact that we have to pay bills or that we suddenly have responsibilities. It’s because we lose the piece of ourselves that we used to let dream. How many people are told that they can’t do something because there’s no money in it or the chances of being successful are so low, or because it’s not “practical” and how much is the whole world missing out because of that?
When I went to college I had no idea what I was going to be when I grow up. I’m not 42 and just starting to figure it out, and it has nothing to do with the degree that I am still paying for. How many of us believe, especially in the US, that our jobs are our identity? Yet most of us got into a particular job because it was the one that was hiring or most convenient for our schedule or our location or our limited skills based on classes that we took predominately in our teens.
When I think about what I could do or have if I could do or have anything.. I may not want to fly like Superman, but I do want to see the world. I may not want laser beams that shoot out of my eyes but I do want to use my eyes to discover and see every beautiful thing that this world has to offer. I want to make a difference in this world. I want to raise my son to know that he can do and see and be anything that he wants, even if he has to go to the jungles and wrestle alligators with Aquafresh.
It’s been about a decade since that movie “The Bucket List” came out and people started to contemplate what they want to do before they die. The problem that I have always had with that is that people think they have forever. They think that they’ll be 90+ and have decades to make up for the time that they’re wasting now. But we don’t.. this is our life.. every day.. every minute. We don’t get it back. What do you want to do.. not before you die.. what do you want to do with your life?
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.
“I’m going to create a giant motor out of metal, that can carry a giant metal cylinder in the air and fly on it”.. imagine how crazy that must have sounded. Now, obviously when the Wright brother’s first created a plane it wasn’t nearly as fancy and mostly made of wood and pullies, but you get the idea. The thought of flight was absurd, but now we’re crisscrossing around the world in breaking the sound barrier.. cuz that’s a thing.
As I sit in my office with the a/c blasting because it’s a million degrees out I cam very thankful that Willis Carrier for figuring out a way to create yet another metal box of mysterious powers that can use chemicals to cool off entire buildings and cars.. which in and of themselves are incredible.
People often talk about man made inventions but they don’t really talk about the amazing imagination that comes behind those creations. I was driving to work one day sitting in traffic and I was struck by the fact that not only did someone figure out that crude oil can be turned into gasoline, and that gasoline can be used to run giant engines that can move people and objects thousands of miles, but the cars themselves are made up of the same crude oil, metals, and sand that has been on this planet since the beginning of time.
The mobile phones that we talk on… who am I kidding.. that we text on and surf on and watch movies on are also made of crude oil and metals from the ground.. how in the Hell did anyone figure that out. If someone from today was somehow transported back.. even few hundred years ago and talk about the everyday toys we use today they would be locked up and probably given drugs and shock treatment for insanity. If they brought back a fully charged cell phone and played a downloaded movie they would be burned at the stake for witchcraft.
The ideas that come from the imaginations of normal people have changed the entire world, and at this point parts of the solar system, and only expanding from there. In fact there has yet to be an idea that has been proven to be not possible.. maybe a cure for a disease hasn’t happened but we’re close.. maybe we can only GO INTO SPACE a short way.. but we have been in f****n SPACE. If humanity has proven anything it is that we are amazing and capable beings.
So, the next time you’re hear the thoughts inside your head saying anything about you is stupid, or wrong, or incapable.. I want you to think about the fact that you are sitting in a house with windows that are still made from really over heated sand.. and tell me that there is anything that is not possible in this world.
I don’t know how we make things happen. I don’t know if it’s random change.. a God of your choice.. or we’re living in the Matrix, but when I look around this world I see the most amazing things.. some of them natural, some of them “man made” but all of them created out of nothing but possibility and patience. If you know.. I mean really know what you want in life.. then you also know how to get it.. you just have to be willing to do the work.
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.
If someone were to ask you if you were happy what would your response be? Would you laugh? Would you say “of course”… would you list all the reasons why you’re not happy now, but plan to be happy in the future? Will you be happy after you get a new job, or get married, or have children, or finish your degree, or lose weight? What is it that you NEED in order to “get” happy?
How do you think that these things will help you? Do you think these things will change your overall personality? Do you think these things will change something chemically inside of you to create the “happy hormone”? Do you think that more people will like you if you have more money in your pocket… or that you’ll like yourself more? What is it that is stopping you from liking yourself now?
The expression goes, “money doesn’t buy happiness” and everyone responds with some sort of sarcastic remark about taking the money to see… or taking the money from the rich to allow them to be happy. There is always the self deprecating joke about how it’s better to be miserable and rich than to be miserable and poor…. and to a certain extent that is true. Being rich is easier… but how many rich and famous people do you hear about with drug problems or that commit suicide?
So if it’s not money and or popularity and or looks that make people happy, then what is it?
If you ask a psychologist they will tell you that cognitive behavioral therapy will help… fake it till you make it, basically. If you ask a psychiatrist they will tell you it’s all chemical and prescribe you with drugs, if you ask a child they may tell you an ice cream or a hug. I literally, just stopped this to ask my 5 year old son and he said that what makes him happy is that “in the whole wide world mama and me love each other”. That’s pretty simple. He feels safe and loved and that makes him feel happy.
So what can you think of that makes you happy? Do you think about these things often? There is a big movement right now that talks about focusing on gratitude. Making a list, daily if possible, of all the things that you are grateful for. Do you ever think to do that? How would that change your mind about being happy? For those who have followed me in the past year or so you know that I have had my share of tragedy, and loss, but when I wake up in the morning the fist thing I do is look at my beautiful and perfect son and am so THANKFUL that I have him. Then I make myself a cup of coffee… and I am SOOOO thankful that I have that to be able to keep up with my beautiful and perfect son.
Gratitude is the cure for anger, it’s the cure for resentment, it’s what keeps us focused on the wonderful things that we currently actually have in our lives. Too many of us are waiting for the magic solution to all of our problems instead of enjoying the miracle moments that happen everyday.
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.
Thoughts create reality….. also known as “Positive Thinking”. I have found that there are two types of people who don’t believe this theory. Those who already think positively and those who refuse to think positively.
I see it all the time. I have conversations with people who are well accomplished. Who have a strong self value. Who understand that if they work hard they can accomplish anything. Then “Positive thinking” comes up and they start commenting about how “You can’t think yourself to success… you can’t just think, ‘I’m successful’ and become successful… that’s all woo woo crap that con artists use to delude the desperate out of their money.”
I tend to respond with… “oh… so you never thought that you were good enough to finish school and get a great job?”. Oh course they did… they thought positively about the idea of how their life would turn out… but they did the work.
Yes… you have to do the work. Thoughts create your reality when you do the work… that should be implied. This mantra is for those who don’t think that they are good enough to accomplish things. They need to think positively. They need to believe in themselves. They don’t need to think “My husband is great and him beating me is great” that is not positive thinking. They have to think, “I deserve better than my husband is giving me, and I can do better by myself than with him”. Then she needs to believe it and leave. They don’t need to think, “I can pay all my bills on my minimum wage job”. They need to think, “I am smart and talented and deserve to get paid accordingly in a job that I find rewarding”. Then they need to believe it in order to get the new job or get the education to start a new career.
Those who are successful already tell themselves these things. They already believe it. I use the example, say someone hands you a puzzle, one of those brain teasing 3 dimensional puzzles, and says, “I think it has all the pieces”. You may spend some time trying to put it together and if it gets too difficult you may say, “It must be missing some pieces.. this isn’t working”, but if they tell you that all the pieces are there you will be more willing to put in the extra effort because you know that it is solvable. Then there are others that will keep trying till it works regardless. If you are sure that you can do something you are more likely to accomplish your goal.
Then there are those who won’t even try regardless of how many pieces are in the box. Those are in the other category that don’t believe in positive thinking. They are the ones that are so low on themselves that there is just no point to thinking positively. It’s not going to work no matter what. They are too stupid, or they have horrible luck.. or they’re just not the “type of person” that can succeed.
With this type of person it is almost impossible to get them to understand the concept of “Positive thinking” because they’ve never done it. They’ve never seen it work. If you think positively and prove to them that it works, then you just have better luck, or your rubbing your fortune in their face…. or you’re just better than them and they get it.. and now they feel worse.
Those are the people that need the help the most.. and are the most resistant to it. You can’t change someone that doesn’t want to change… but for the average person that just has a bad streak of self doubt the idea that thoughts create our reality is game changing. If you believe something enough you will figure out a way to achieve it, as long as you DO THE WORK. It’s that simple.
Have you ever known someone whom lost a boat load of weight, I’m not talking like 10-20 lbs. I mean like 50-100 lbs, and managed to keep it off? The first question people always ask is how they did it, and they are always disappointed when they are told the person changed their eating habits and/or exercised. No one wants to do that.
Everyone wants to change.. without actually changing. These same people will see the new and improved, healthier person out at dinner or a party and say, “oh, you can have some cake”.. or the drink.. or what have you, “you have to live a little” or “a little won’t kill you” or something along those lines.
I have always found this extremely disparaging. It is a way of completely undermining the work the person has done. It’s not easy to “stick” to a healthy diet. It takes A LOT of work. Most people have to over come addictions, and other mental health coping mechanisms to get there. It really does take changing.
I couldn’t imagine someone saying the same thing to an alcoholic. “Oh, wow, you haven’t had a drink in a year! That’s amazing! Let’s celebrate with shots. One won’t kill you”. It’s a slippery slope. Now that’s not to say that someone who has lost weight can never have a piece of birthday cake again. I mean… maybe the person does decide that their addiction is too strong and it’s best not to, or maybe they feel that they have dealt with their habits enough that they can indulge on an occasion, but the point is that it’s the healthy person’s decision on how they handle their food intake. They know what is and isn’t OK for them.
I don’t think that most people who try to encourage the healthier person to “Live a little” is trying to bully them or sabotage them. I think most people are just trying to include their friends. I think that most people just want to act like the food is not a big deal, but it is.. to some people, and pretending that it’s not doesn’t help anyone. That being said, there are some that go the other way. There are those “friends” that don’t want you to succeed because they haven’t. You know the old saying, “Misery loves company”.
If you are on your path to a healthier you. Whether it’s weight-loss, substance abuse, or even getting a better job, be careful of your peers. Be careful of those who seem to always lead you down the path of the dark side… with those cookies. You know the voices that you hear in your head that say it’s ok… you can just have one… well, they are hard enough to ignore. When you hear them from those who love you it’s even more challenging.
If you want to change your life, that mean you have to CHANGE your life. It won’t be easy. There is no magic pill. You can’t half-ass it. But you can become what ever you imagine yourself to be… you just have to do the work.