Our habits tend to operate on autopilot.
That’s why so many of us are not even aware of our actions as “habits” per se and believe that the way we act is just the way we are, part of our characters or human nature.
Unfortunately, people content to operate on autopilot—and even a surprising amount of others who are aware of their bad habits—believe that changing is unnatural, unnecessary or difficult to the point of impossible. And we all suffer the consequences of their inaction (though not as dearly as they do).
Most people know the basics of what they should be doing to be safe, healthy, successful and to accomplish their goals, and yet we all sometimes find ourselves going against what we know is best for us. It is as if a separate part of us, deep inside our brains, operates the way it wants to, no matter how we consciously want to act.
Whether we’re dealing with relatively mild issues or full-blown compulsions, habits shine a light on our unconscious minds at work. In fact, habits are often the result of what we have absorbed unconsciously and are created as self-protective reactions to stressful or unpleasant situations.
For example, if, as children, behaving a certain way made us feel secure, important or got us what we wanted, then we may have continued to behave that way, even when it became inappropriate or even self-destructive. The child we were still lives within us and we all know how stubborn a child can be when he decides what he wants and that’s all that matters.
It is important to be as aware of our mental patterns as possible so that we can cultivate the habits that help us and replace the habits that hurt with habits that heal. Otherwise, our behavior sabotages even our best efforts to live well and help those about whom we care.
On the bright side, as you become a conscious choice maker, you will find that you experience more and more joy and happiness in your life on a daily basis.
Here is a powerful affirmation for you to use when working to break negative habits: “I shine awareness and compassion on my past and on my habitual behavior.”