A business trainer and life coach I listen to shares his perspective that
“Life is all about Habits”.
Furthermore, people who are successful all have successful habit.
A habit simply being something we started then repeated until it became automatic. Whether we knew it or not.
I discovered of myself that I have a lot of thinking habits. I formed “realities” for myself based on perceptions formed by my thinking habits. Yet they were not realities at all. They were illusions or distortions formed by then supported by these habits of thought.
One habit I practiced into near-permanence was “churning”. When something bothered me, I would think about it over and over and over. In an ever-worsening cycle. Increasing the pain to myself each time I re-thought of the circumstance. I unknowingly practiced this habit so much, I believed it was completely automatic and I had no control over it. I had created a default reality. I figured everyone’s brain worked this way and that I “had to” do this.
Case in point: Missing my kids. When I was missing my kids, I would think and re-think the injustices my ex-wife was rendering on me. As well as the regrets for my past behavior. Plus some blame of my parents for the dysfunction of our family life growing up. Etc. Before I knew it, I was in a rage and/or depressed. And all this from the comfort of my own bed! Where I would often stay for days churning over these thoughts. Then booze and drugs would help me stay there longer. And spiral deeper.
It finally got painful and impossible enough that someone got through to me that it was me and my habits that was perpetuating these thoughts. Yes, the injustices were real. But I was keeping them alive and amplifying them by churning them over and over and over.
I also eventually saw that not everyone had this habit. This became very apparent one day when a friend tragically lost a teenage son. He watched him die in the Emergency Room after a terrible accident. He was agonizingly hurt, but he did not disappear into his head and depression the way I did. His thinking habits were different than mine. The shock of this situation finally woke me up.
Now, years later, memories of the tragedy can still bring him to tears. But he does not turn them into life-controlling churning that immobilizes him from everything else. The way I did for simply being separated from my kids due to divorce and addiction. My situation was temporary. His was permanent. Yet he was bearing up better than I was.
Why? His thinking habits were different. His were more functional. This realization was a turning point for me that led me to seek changes in my thinking habits. It has been a long journey, but it is working. Life continue to get better. No “arrival” yet, but lots of distance travelled. And far more peace and happiness.
Today, when I am in pain, I always ask myself… am I practicing a bad habit? This question has itself become a better habit of thought that leads to improvement rather than more pain.
Here’s to some better habits for 2009!