Today’s big idea is that because bad habits are so unconscious and so well-worn, it can take a really big dose of motivation to get you to take action and then to sustain that action. And willpower isn’t going to cut it, as willpower is finite and burns quickly, like kindling. The good news is that I’m going to share a great motivator with you. The bad news is that it is not all that pleasant. It’s discomfort, which can really get your butt into gear IF you are willing to acknowledge it. So spending a little time thinking about all the costs of your bad habits can be very productive.
Listen to the Podcast Here
Now, I’m not one to focus on the bad parts of anything. I will go to my grave believing that what we focus on grows, and so we want to seek out the positive whenever possible. But I also believe that you need to be able to look a problem straight in the eye. And that includes acknowledging the not-positive parts.
Let me give you an example
Let’s say you’ve been staying up late and not getting enough sleep. You know you’re tired, and that you should go to bed earlier, but whenever night time rolls around, you find yourself starting another episode right around the time you really ought to start getting ready for bed.
Now, listen, I’m not judging this. I’ve done it. We’ve all done it. Sometimes for parents especially, late nights can feel like the only quiet time you have to yourself. It’s not bad, ok?
But, let’s say that you’re starting to feel bad about this habit for some reason–either because you think about it but haven’t managed to do anything about it. Or because you’re starting to notice that you’re cranky and saying things you wish you hadn’t said. Or you’re forgetting things. Or you’re getting sick. Or something else.
Remember, the costs of your bad habits are like icebergs
there’s a lot more to them under the surface than what’s visible. So if there’s one piece of this habit that’s getting your attention, there’s more to be discovered there. And that’s what today’s episode is all about. Seeing the parts that maybe you haven’t taken the time or allowed yourself to see.
Because when you can clear see and acknowledge the ways in which a habit is contributing to your current or future suffering, you increase your desire to change it. And where there’s a want, there’s a way.
Daily Tiny Assignment
Here’s your tiny assignment–to take a quick inventory of what you want to change and having a negative impact of the costs of your bad habits. Here’s how you do it. Open up your journal or a blank document and put at the top, Things that are probably tied in some way to my habit of blank:. And then start listing them. Whatever pops in to your head, write it down. You can evaluate it later and decide if it’s related or not, you don’t want to edit yourself at this writing down stage.
Here’s my list of things that were associated with not meditating:
Feel like a fraud because I help people with self-awareness and relaxation and I don’t do this thing that I often recommend
Feel badly that I think about it so much but don’t do anything about it
Find my patience wearing super thin and saying things and taking tones with my family that I regret later
Have trouble focusing
Miss the way I felt when I was meditating regularly before
Know this thing is here for me and can help me feel better and wondering what the heck is wrong with me
Now, is not meditating 100% responsible for all of these things? No. But it’s definitely related and that’s good enough.
Do I feel good looking at this list?
No… but that’s kind of the point. You have to see what the true costs really are to be inspired to dig deep. If you tell yourself it’s not the big of a deal, you’re not going to stop reaching for your phone as soon as you wake up–or whatever ‘bad’ habits are keeping you from the thing you want to be doing.
To be clear, this is not an invitation to beat yourself up. It’s about honesty and clarity, and most importantly being compassionate with yourself throughout this process. You are human. Humans are flawed. We also have the capacity to observe our thoughts and behaviors and learn and make different choices.
Compassion is not only bearing witness to someone else’s suffering–which is empathy–, but also wanting to reduce that suffering. And that’s what this exercise is all about–self-compassion. But it’s hard to access that compassion if you don’t recognize the suffering. So…make your list of negative effects and the costs of your bad habits.
Come Back Tomorrow!
Heavy episode today! Sorry about that!! Remember, what’s been revealed can be healed. And tomorrow, I’ve got really great news for you about breaking bad habits. So be sure to come back, or to keep listening if you’re catching up.
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