Facing The Inner Monster

Deciding to give up our bad habits is probably the biggest step we're going to take towards success.

However, facing them and actually telling them upfront that we don't want them in our lives anymore is another challenge.

So, how do we stand up against our bad habits? It can be done through persistence and discipline.

Bad habits are stubborn. The key is to equal or surpass them in stubbornness. It sounds difficult at first, but it's actually easier than it looks. After all, you are your own master. You govern your behaviours. Habits, no matter how deeply ingrained they are, do not govern you.

Others have tried different methods to battling the bad-habit monster. Some have sought the support of their family and friends, some sought professional help, some tried hypnosis and alternative medication and meditation techniques, while others simply went cold turkey on their destructive habits (which often ended in vain).

Rome Wasn't Built In A Day

We must realize that conquering bad habits requires time and patience. It does not happen during your first, second, third try. Bad habits need to be faced little by little, cunningly, until your positive and let-go attitude has them surrounded.

If you suddenly stop, the chances of them coming back to haunt you increase. However, if you take baby steps and learn to pace yourself at a rate that is comfortable for you, the more likely your offensive and defensive methods will work. Remember that a bad habit has embedded itself into your life -- so extracting it will predictably be quite a task.

Take Cathy's story.

Cathy needs to lose weight because diabetes runs in her family. In order to prevent herself from being diagnosed with the same illness, she decided that she has to let go of her constant cravings for sweets. Going cold turkey was her strategy.

During the first week, she gave up everything that contained sugar. She succeeded. However, in the second week, her cravings started to kick in. Her mind began telling her to take just one bite off that delicious chocolate fudge cake in the refrigerator. It even had her convinced that the headache she was feeling during her 'cold turkey' session was connected to the absence of sweets.

The struggle goes on for two more days and, eventually, she throws up her hands and gives in. "One bite won't hurt," she told herself. She was dead wrong. Before she realized what had happened, she had finished up the entire slice and was reaching for another one. Eventually, she resolved to give up wanting to give up sweets. Her mission had failed.

We might be able to convince ourselves that taking the cold turkey method would work. Well, it does -- but only at the beginning. Our defenses eventually crumble. In the end, we become content with saying, "Well, this is how I really am, then." We are not. If we will it, we change.

"I can change. I can improve. I can grow toward anything I want to be, if I am willing to work. I can follow the path and awaken." -- excerpt from "What Would Buddha Do At Work?"

Answer the following questions (better if you write them down):

  • What are my good and bad habits?
  • Which of these would I like to change now?
  • What is keeping me from changing the bad ones?
  • What can I do to divert my attention from my bad habits?

Your answers to the above will help you pinpoint what your bad habits are and give you a better understanding on why they keep recurring. Keep a log of your responses and carefully monitor your progress. You can even give yourself little rewards for your successes. If you face a blank wall, seek the support of others. The more people are aware of your goals, the easier it will be to achieve them and the stronger your motivations will be.