Embracing Choice To Evoke Change: Breaking Old Habits With A Simple Approach

tiny glass bubbles held on string with bokeh backgroundYou know those old habits you can’t break? The patterns you go around and around in?

We’re going to look at those in a new way today. Today, you jump off that merry-go-round, and into something better: Real, actionable choice.

I know how frustrating it is when every shift you make seems to fail. When it’s one step forward, two steps back, when everyone around you seems to be surging ahead on their paths, and you just aren’t privy to the secret (though it “may be yours for $10,000 in 3 easy payments” according to that always-present infomercial!)

The real secret? It’s YOU. It has always been.

Cue self-awareness! This is where it comes in. This is where it’s key. To every single change you want – and need – to make.

Are you always craving chips/fries? Can’t resist an extra spoonful (scoopful) of ice cream? Even though you foresee the guilt and heaviness that will follow? You know reading those books or hitting that blog leaves you feeling blah and un-blessed but still, you read and click. Why?

A few years ago when I was first diagnosed, I was very upset. It was a cold, grey day and I felt I couldn’t be alone in the room without falling apart and scattering across the floorboards. My body no longer felt like my own.

My husband, Linus, asked me what I wanted to do and I (with all my professional training, tools and coping strategies) answered:

“I want to eat chips and watch television”. What?!

That didn’t sound like me (there was also the small inconvenience of not having a TV or an oven for chips, but I digress).

Why did I want to grab for the junk and escape into TV? Quite simply: I didn’t. What I did want was to change the way I felt.

I wanted to feel numb and distracted. I wanted a break from reality and feelings. I knew chips, with their hard to digest fats, would numb me out and make me sleepy, that television would suck my energy and transport me into a storyline so effectively I could leave my body (at least for the next few hours.)

It was a coping strategy, but not an ideal one. And it came complete with a series of negative, high impact repercussions on my healing body.

I came to realize that wanting to do those things isn’t bad. Even actually doing them isn’t awful. What it is – always – is a choice. My choice. Your choice.

Self-medicating with food and television was an option I had. But once I’d worked out WHY I wanted those particular things, I could play the Next, Better, Best game. I could really look at my choices.

For example: I want to feel: Numb, protected from reality and distracted.

I will get this from: TV and fatty food. A less (negatively) impactful option is: Grounding miso soup, and an audio book while cuddling with a loved one.

The best option is: Journaling my feelings, then moving my body to get out of fear and into action.

Once you’ve created self-awareness in this way, you can make a truly informed decision. And no matter if you end up choosing chips and television, the soup and cuddling or a mash of TV, soup and journaling, there is an inherent feeling of empowerment because you have taken yourself off of autopilot. You have created and examined your choices, and consciously made an informed decision.

You are aware. And that’s the first step in creating new habits and making true, positive change. (Click to Tweet!)

Think of the recurring behaviours you struggle with. When you engage in them, what are you really looking for? Can you think of a gentler way to meet that need?

Image courtesy of Evan Leeson