(Note to Reader: This is the sixth blog in a series of 8 that I am sending to you about how to stop bad habits. It is taken from Week 4, The Urgent Necessity of Stopping Bad Habits in Happy School Advanced, the companion study to the book, Happy School. The other lessons can be found under the Happy School Advanced tab on this website.)
Let’s comb through the 7 Mighty Steps. They begin on page 86 in Happy School. (You can also review these steps in the summary located on page 247 at the end of the book.)
#1. Make a list of the detriments of continuing and the benefits of stopping. I hate to admit this, but one of my battles was such a monster that I had a 2-inch folder of hand-written documents that I had accumulated before I was really ready to ditch the last dragon. I had to get clear on the detriments and on the benefits. I said to myself, “If I’m going to give up this mood-changer, I’m going to be sure it’s worth it.”
No one can write out the detriments and benefits of stopping your bad habit but you. You can’t hire this out at Thumbtack or Upwork. Starting today, every time you think of or read about a benefit or detriment to continuing or stopping your bad habit, write it down. Accumulate your Reasons.
Exercise is no longer a huge struggle for me, but it used to be. Even after I wrote Skinny School, I would still occasionally look at page 134, because page 134 listed the benefits of exercise. I would read the benefits and then get myself out the door to exercise. Now, the benefits of exercise and the detriments of not exercising are so overwhelmingly etched in my brain that it’s not even a battle anymore—it’s just a matter of when and what exercise I’m going to do. (FYI, I am walking this very second and dictating this lesson into my phone.)
#2. Write out a proclamation of your Best Sane Higher Self. I can’t tell you how important this is. In the presence of God, write out your best version of you with the knowledge you have at this point. Include goals, priorities, your calling, your purpose and how you want to spend your limited time and energy on Earth. You will include impediments to overcome, new habits to build, old habits to extinguish. You’ll know when your BSHS proclamation feels right. (Lesson 5 will further help with this exercise.)
#3. Know the arguments and schemes your Lower Self will try to use to seduce you. Early on when I was trying to resist urges I would almost shake at an urge, like it was the Emperor of the Universe and I was its royal subject. You have learned how to listen to the Parade that Marches across your Brain so now you can listen to your Lower Self’s schemes. Write them down. Refute them. Know them so that when they appear, you’ll be ready. Your urges feel like the great and powerful Wizard of Oz, but truly, they are more like the man behind the curtain, a weak little guy operating some switches.
When you are tempted, recognize that you are aroused and realize you are getting ready to be seduced. You’ve got to interrupt this ambush.
#4. Be ready to talk back to your Lower Self. Talk back to it with your Best Sane Higher Self proclamation. Say, “Mrs. Urge! Mrs. Craving! Mrs. Lower Self! Your request for me to indulge is not in harmony with my Best Sane Higher Self and I know for sure, that in the morning, I’ll be glad I resisted you.” (Just for the record, soon your urges will die down, but they will not go away completely. If they do try to show up, they are like sickly bugs, and it’s easy to swat and kill them.) This is the power of creating new neural grooves in your brain. As the Genie said, the judge and jury have surveyed all the evidence when you were in your best sane mind—not in the undertow of cravings and cues—and the verdict is that you must abstain for your own happiness.
#5. Be smoke and let the dart of the craving pass through you. (More on being smoke in the lesson on being offended, Lesson 7.)
#6. This step is key, and now you know how to do it: Move into Another Room in Your Brain, i.e., think about something else.
#7. Decide beforehand what strategy you’ll use to self-soothe or entertain. Hopefully, you’ve made a list in your Quartz Journal, Alternatives I Will Choose for Comfort and Entertainment. A very important principle is having a substitute for your bad habit. In Skinny School, we discussed having your Quart Bags ready. (Click HERE to read the Skinny School Advanced lesson on having Quart Bags ready). With all bad habits, you have to have an alternate go-to. When the craving or urge comes, you break and interrupt the cycle by having alternatives and substitutes ready.
For me, if I want something self-soothing, I make red raspberry tea and add a little Stevia. Or, maybe I get a cup of coffee with a Paleo shortbread cookie and relax with something to read. Alternatively, a warm bath, a good meal, or a pleasant conversation soothe me. You will have to think about what substitutes will work for you.
Initially, you might be sad when you give up your tool or trick that you’ve used to numb yourself. But it’s a lie that you need your bad habit to numb yourself. There are literally 1000’s of fabulous interests and pursuits you can choose instead.
The next blog is entitled, Staying Stopped or Do Not Go Back to What Buried You. If you’d like access all 8 blogs now, you can find them under the Happy School Advanced tab at JulieNGordon.com or HERE.
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