Habits... uh huh.

Lost, yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.
--Horace Mann

Nothing dies harder than a bad habit. Usually we know whenever we're doing something that's not good for us because the small voice that resides in the center of our heads can be a pretty vigilant nag. "Please don't," it will whisper when we light up that cigarette, pour an extra glass of wine, or stand in front of the refrigerator inhaling cold spaghetti because we're nervous. The trouble is, of course, that until now, we haven't been willing to listen.

Before changing any behavior, it's helpful to know why you want to get rid of habits that don't nurture or contribute to your sense of well-being. If you change, what will be your positive payback? A healthier lifestyle, more energy and vitality, the joy and serenity of emotional sobriety, a slimmer body? Going within opens up the eyes of your awareness in gentle ways. You start to treat yourself more kindly. As you become more intimate with your authentic self and see glimmers of the [person] you truly are inside, you shore up the courage to take the first tentative steps necessary to help [yourself] evolve and emerge outwardly.

Soon we'll begin hearing whispers that encourage and comfort, not berate us. Then on thirsty evenings, instead of automatically reaching for wine while we fix dinner, we'll enjoy a refreshing glass of sparkling mineral water, especially if it's served with lemon in a pretty cut-glass goblet. Instead of the unconscious snacking every time we enter the kitchen, we'll start eating only when we're sitting down and only what's on our plates, especially if we take the time to prepare delicious meals that satisfy the eye as well as our appetites. Instead of impulsively reaching for a cigarette to bring solace when we're nervous, we'll pick up needlecraft, or even the crossword puzzle.

Too often we're unaware of the ways in which we rob ourselves of precious moments that could be spent nurturing our creativity. These are unconscious habits that the Surgeon General doesn't warn us about but that our authentic selves will. For as long as we continue to cling to bad habits that may not be life-threatening but certainly aren't life-enhancing, we only steal from our potential.

-Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance - A Daybook of Comfort and Joy©1995

I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day.
--Abraham Lincoln

I did not begin the work of releasing my addictions until I came to the understanding that I needed to acknowledge that I WAS addicted. Addictions are so powerful because people generally refuse to admit that they have an addiction, and prefer to rationalize it in some way. "I may be down a few dollars, but my luck is bound to change soon"... uh huh. "Hey, I was hungry, o.k.? Besides, I like Hägen Dazs"... uh huh. "Yeah, well, that's just for recreational usage, it's not like I do that all the time"... uh huh. "I just have a drink when I get home to take the edge off of the day"... uh huh. "I have random sex with people so that I can feel closeness and love, so that I can feel desirable"... uh huh. Bearing down on myself, looking clearly at the places in me that my addiction controlled, made me realize that I was giving up my power to external circumstances. Getting through my defenses only happened (and sometimes not!) when there was some outside evidence that there was a problem - as in the previous examples, financial difficulties because of a paycheck wagered away, a broken relationship because of chronic infidelity, emphysema caused by any of the nearly 600 chemicals in tobacco products, perhaps liver damage or loss of a job or family due to alcoholism, or injury and death caused by a drunken driver, or stealing from those you love because ya gotta have that fix, or all those clothes that used to fit. We tell ourself it is just a small problem, then a bigger problem, then a significant problem which can completely overwhelm us. Acknowledging an addiction forces us to choose to leave a part of our life out of control, or to do something about it.

Once we acknowledge that it's an addiction, we find it hard to ignore the part it plays in our life. We resist the acknowledgement of addictions because releasing an addiction necessitates changes in our life - we know that is inevitable, but we don't like the idea. Resisting change is in our nature, so we resist acknowledging our addictions. It doesn't work to believe that an addiction is merely an attraction to something. Attractions are a pleasing part of one's life which can be satisfied and left behind. Addictions are quite contrary to that. By way of example, one drink is too many but 20 drinks are not enough for an alcoholic. Addictions can be anesthetized, but as with any such temporary measures, they will return to demand more of you. Addictions are tied up with power, or powerlessness, as it were. Addictions of a sexual nature are where individuals are at their greatest point of powerlessness, because they use others in order to feel powerful. But it is essentially the same with other addictions. I feel powerless, so I substitute something in its place, something that feels good, or something that dulls the sense of feeling bad.

Unless one is truly ready to give up an addiction, unless one knows in their heart that they can do so, having the addiction will seem overwhelming and insurmountable. When I began to work on my addiction, I had to walk through my own reality. How did I do that?

Hold this in mind, because this is what really works, and it is critical to understanding addictions: I continually repeated to myself, "the addiction is not stronger than me. It is not stronger than who I want to be. It can only win if I let it. Its strength is only in proportion to the amount of effort that needs to be applied toward making myself whole in that area of my life. When I place myself in a position of temptation, I am creating a situation in which I can give myself permission to act irresponsibly. I create a test I cannot pass, and in the end I give in to my addiction. The more I want to be healed from this, the more it will cost me to do so. The more I hang on to the addiction, the more dear will be the cost of keeping it. By the magnitude of the costs of my addiction, I can measure the importance of healing it, and the strength of my own soul's inner intention to heal from it. Working on this issue through my Higher Self utilizes that part of me that is more responsible, more caring, more empowered. It demands of me the way of the enlightened spirit: Conscious life. Conscious life. If I make this choice with wisdom, knowing that the power over this is fully in my hands, my addiction is not me, and it is not stronger than me."

Time after time, as I continue to challenge my addiction, I gather unto myself the power I need to resist the temptation that my Lower Self uses to call me, the temptation to act irresponsibly. I am not as powerless as it seemed.

So, look around you. You are surrounded by others who are in process, just like you and I. Just like you and I, they struggle between their Lower and Higher Self, too. If they were whole and perfect, they would not be here on earth. We have the company of billions of souls who find themselves in similar straights, we are not alone. Some of the most destructive things in our lives, the things that steal from us our creativity, our self-respect, are more than just bad habits. Overcoming them takes more than just modifying behavior. And it means more than just giving something up in the daily round of our life. In the midst of improving ourself, let us applaud our accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem.

My spirit is stronger than my addictions, again today. As of the moment I wrote this article: I have chosen not to smoke for 3 Weeks 1 Day 27 Minutes. Cigarettes not smoked: 440. Money saved: $61.43.

My spirit and I are celebrating!


email: Michael@N-Spire.com

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