We all have Habits!
Some more than others!
Certain people have very peculiar habits that would make everybody else smile!
Others have life threatening habits which tend to tear families apart.
Most of us just plod along not even realising that our habitual behaviour even exists.
When obsessing patterns are in the way of our normal functioning, we try our darn hardest to get rid of them.
We will give our unwanted habits all our focus and energy in an attempt to be free again.
We will track our behaviour, monitor our improvements and beat ourselves up over the inevitable “slips”.
What we miss out is a very simple truth:
Habits are never the Problem but the Solution to our temporary Discomfort.
So what really happens when we feel our wicked urges?
We simply go offline!
Rather than wait and reset, our “lower brain” starts smelling danger and rings its internal alarm bell!
The lower brain is the oldest part of our brain, and it’s habitual and unintelligent.
This is essentially where the “fight or flight” response originates.
This part of our brain never really evolved and it’s also called “reptilian“. This poor dude is still adamant we live among dinosaurs and there is a real danger out there!
Everything and anything to do with our survival then starts from here.
So whenever we have a deeply ingrained habit, our “inner lizard” (another name for this “pattern-producing” machine) pushes us into doing anything that will make us feel better.
Even if that means doing more of the crappy things we just want to stop doing!
It’s easy to see then how our habitual patterns are merely an attempt to go back online and feel good again!
This would be a very good strategy if not for the fact that a) we don’t live in caves anymore and dinosaurs have long gone b) it really is OK to go offline from time to time.
We have “free won’t”!
So are we destined to a life of self-damaging rituals?
Not at all, when we see that we do have a choice.
Dr Amy Johnson explains in her groundbreaking work how even though we may not be able to choose our brain’s response to different challenges, we have the choice whether to act on it or not.
The lower brain on its own is not capable of making us act on the urges it produces.
That choice can only come via our “higher brain” which is where our wisdom resides.
Once we see how our habits are not us and that we are the ones experiencing them, they slowly start to fade.
As Amy suggests in the “Little Book of Big Change“: “Neuroscientists refer to the ability to veto any thought that occurs to us as free won’t. The presence of urges is not our business – our free will can not determine what shows up. But the choice to respect those urges is where we do have some say. We have Free Won’t!”
Wrapping it up:
- the lower brain keeps us in a state of constant alert even when it’s all well around us
- you are NOT your urges. You are the one EXPERIENCING them
- urges, same as everything else, will eventually fade
- by the time you notice your urge, this is already on its way out
- when you see how you have the choice to act or not on your urges these start losing their grip on you
Blog originally published here.