Changing self-defeating habits.

Our lives are ruled by habit, and deeply ingrained beliefs. We are hardwired to resist change, holding on to what is comfortable and familiar, even if we are not happy with the lives we lead, or the way we are. Breaking free from traits that do us harm is hard work. It takes more than willpower, it takes a change in beliefs and a lot of soul-searching. Yet, we can change if we make a commitment to do so. Nothing worth having is free!

If you notice, the fast, sudden changes we do experience, are those that come from shocking, unpleasant, and painful events. A loss, a death, or hitting rock-bottom in some area of our lives. Sad, but true. The happiness and wellbeing that good news brings us; winning the lottery, getting published, finding a job we love, falling in love, is short-lived and has little long-lasting emotional impact. So in the face of these hard facts, we have to get down and dirty, and realize that any change we ourselves are willing to undergo can only come from perseverance and hard work.

The good news is that setting goals, gives our lives meaning, a sense of purpose, and inevitably hope. Goals, keep us moving forward in a positive direction too.

I have stumbled often trying to change my life, traits, and giving up addictions. The hardest part is not giving up when you find yourself falling prey to the same old self-defeating patterns. It’s like being hostage to yourself. This frustration can hinder any efforts, and have you give up. Yet, I persisted and since I am stubborn, I slowly but steadily have been able to shed some of my worst traits.

What has worked for me:

1. Writing down what I want to change. For years, I kept diaries and made lists of those traits and things I wanted to change. Some changes came by hitting bottom, and  loss, but others, from my constant awareness of what I needed to give up. As I now look back at my scribblings, I can see how, amazingly, I have let go of the most harmful and debilitating ones.

2. Therapy. Yep! I never liked the thought of going to a therapist. I had it all wrong. I thought that people went to therapists for them to fix you, and didn’t quite believe in it happening! Actually, you go to fix yourself. Therapists are mere sounding boards. A good therapist will help you figure yourself out. They won’t tell you what to do. They guide you through your own thinking process. You just have to shop around for the one that fits you.

3. Be patient with yourself. It takes time. obsessing won’t help, and being angry and frustrated at yourself will only keep you stuck. Be good to yourself and understanding.

4. If you have an addiction, by all means go to a meeting. People who have gone through the same experiences, or similar, are the ones who you will empathize with. They know how you feel.

Above all, don’t lose faith. You only get a chance at life, so you better try to get it right, this time, the only time you’ve got!

Good luck!

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