Braking the Habit - First You Have to Put on the Brakes

The world is made up of patterns and thus so are people. We have physical patterns and mental patterns. These patterns have come to be known as habits. And as anybody knows a habit is a hard thing to break, thus the pun, "Braking the Habit." Once it has been created it takes twice as much energy to redirect the motivation behind it and replace it with a new one. Therefore, putting on the brakes, by becoming conscious of your habits may be the first step in breaking them.

Habits are not all good or all bad. Most people have a perception that a habit is always bad. This is not the case. A habit is simply a fact of life for human existence. It is nature's way of automating certain things and freeing our mind to do other things. For example, if we had to think each time our heartbeat or our blood circulated we would have little time to do anything else. Therefore these things are the bodies "habits" in a similar way our own behavior also has habits.

We know from studies of transcendental meditation (or TM) that yogi's who are able to control their bodily functions such as heartbeat and respiration are able to do so by conscious awareness of those activities. This should give us the first clue to breaking a habit - awareness. To cease a habit and create a new one we must become aware of the old one and conscious of it, such as a bad eating habit. Most programs and methods for breaking habits do this by requiring the participant to keep records or remember the times in which they indulged themselves. By doing so they begin to create enough of a pause between the desire and the action to make a new choice. This can work with eating disorders as well as other patterns that we want to change.

Another aspect of habits is that new ones often must replace them. A vacuum must be filled. To break the habit and replace it by nothing else will often result in the habit reforming itself stronger than before. Thus we have smokers that turn to chewing gum and alcoholics who turn to smoking.

So given the above we must learn to recognize the habits we have in our lives and whether they are positive or negative. Most of us will have some of both. Once we determine which ones are negative we can go about replacing them with choices that are life supporting rather than life depleting. Working out is an example of a positive habit. Eating real food is another. As is running, reading, writing or even meditating.

Take the time to examine your life and find the patterns and unconscious choices you make that are controlling them. Braking a habit, by slowing down and examining why you do what you do is the first step in changing the negative ones to positive ones. This can make a huge difference in quality and quantity of life.