How can I change my life and my bad habits?
I was that guy who would always say “oh yeah, I’m going to quit smoking” to everyone around me, almost as a way of making myself accountable. But deep down, I knew I was always going to fail. I knew my habits were too deep. Overeating. Smoking. Drugs. Chocolate. Drinking. Not exercising. Laziness. Pornography. Anger. Depression. Sadness. Lethargy. Criticising. Judging. Over opinionated. Self-righteous. Overspending. The list of bad habits seemed endless.
Often, I would hear people say to me “oh, just quit!” as though it was the easiest thing to do (usually non-smokers!). In hindsight, it actually *is* that easy, so why is it that I could never do it? No matter how many books I read, or how many YouTube videos I watched, I could never seem to get it under control. I always wondered “yeah, but how?? That works for them, but it doesn’t work for me!”
MY MIND WAS THE PROBLEM
That very way of thinking was exactly the problem.
Even now as I write this, inferiority is another deeply ingrained mental habit. Suddenly it rises up in me, covering my mind and staining my entire body. “I’m not an authority on this!?” “I’m not perfect!” “Who am I to teach anyone?” “No one is going to listen to me!”.
So many bloody thoughts! And you know what? I’m not perfect! I still drink. I still overeat. I still from time-to-time smoke. I still have imperfect thoughts. But I’ve come to realise it’s all just part of the process of “recovery”.
To quit smoking, is literally as simple as just stopping. So why is it I couldn’t just do that? The simple answer is, because of my mind. The times I felt anxious and needed a release. The times I felt depressed and needed a way out of my mind. The times I felt angry and needed to soften my mind. The times I was simply bored and wanted some entertainment. Heck, even the times where life was so good that I thought “now I can smoke, but I’m feeling good enough I won’t let myself go beyond 1 day”.
I began to realise there were always these cues which triggered my desire to fulfill that habit. Even all the research I was reading and hearing was saying the same thing, so this was comforting to know. But it didn’t change the fact that I was still a complete slave to those habits. It’s almost as though all the various habits I had were working together to enslave me! It’s not just 1 habit of smoking- if it was, I felt I could drop it EASILY, I am certain of that. But it wasn’t just that. It was tied up in a cluster with basically every bad habit I had. They all fed on each other and lead to each other, so there were always too many cues to battle through. And it didn’t matter how much I understood that or tried to change it; I would still revert to those bad habits.
THE FORMULA FOR CHANGING HABITS
I tried so many things, but none of it really seemed to work. The only thing that seemed to make a difference was discarding those habits from my mind, and then rebuilding new ones. The research said just build new ones, but I couldn’t build new ones! So, as I meditated and reflected on myself, I started to realise a bit of a formula. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but my formula goes like this: the number of habits together + the intensity of each habit = difficulty of changing the habit. So, in other words, if I had just 1 habit, but it was a DEEPLY intense and all-consuming habit, just trying to layer a new, good habit over the top would take time based on how intense that habit was. But if that habit was connected to other habits, it compounded that difficulty. And so, if there were too many bad habits, it became close to impossible to just layer over the habits with new habits – I had to actually remove those habits from my mind.
So, I started to tackle them 1 by 1. Through meditation, I would reflect on 1 particular habit, and then discard all the surrounding thoughts, cues, environments, people and whatever else that came to mind that surrounded that habit. And 1 by 1, I began to eliminate them from my mind.
Oh God, it was not easy; at times it felt like an uphill battle I could never win, no matter how hard I tried.
Oh God, it was not easy.
Even now, I have to say, tears come to my eyes, because I am so thankful that it has gradually changed and in large part all thanks to meditation. It’s just not something I could do on my own, no matter how hard I tried.
CHANGE TAKES TIME
And again, I am FAR from perfect. But I can see improvement. Just as 1 example, with exercise, I would always hit a wall after around 3 months. The false thoughts that would enter my mind were “Oh so what if you’re fat? No girl is going to go out with you anyway”, “Who cares if your body looks good, what’s the point of it anyway?”, “You’re just going to give up in a months’ time, so you may as well just quit now”, “Even if you lose weight, you’re still going to be ugly”. BUT I SMASHED THOSE THOUGHTS! I gave them up to a higher power outside of myself. I stopped fighting those thoughts or trying to change them and just let go of them. And from there, THEN you build new habits!
And now I’m proud to say exercise is a way of life for me. If I don’t do it, I feel like something is missing! It’s an absolute miracle for me! I am so thankful to meditation for helping me with this. I am so thankful for having found a way to discard them from my mind, so I could rebuild new habits with clean soil in my mind.
Now I’m in the best shape of my life. I have more money. More health. More mental stability. More positivity. More happiness. More control. I’m still on that journey, but I know now I just need to keep taking those steps.
So, in conclusion, if you want to change your habits and your life, my formula goes like this: the number of habits together + the intensity of each habit = difficulty of changing the habit. So, you need to first discard those habits from your mind, and THEN rebuild new ones.
I truly hope this helps you. If you need any help whatsoever, please feel free to reach out to me. If you’re too shy, watch this video which I find summarizes everything perfectly.