Understanding what a Habit really is and why You eat Chocolate.
People write for different reasons. Some people write at work, everyday, some people write for fun and others write to be creative. They write stories, novels and creative non-fiction. There are many types of writers.
All of them, at some point in their writing experience, have problems with keeping up the habit of writing.
Maybe, some writers never develop a daily writing habit.
Habits are strong. They tend to take hold of our minds and guide us into an action that will have good or bad outcomes.
What is a Habit?
The problem with Habits is that we don’t always know how they started. Did you intentionally develop the habit of being late for appointments?
Habits are little places in the mind that we know, we like being in that place because it’s comfortable. So it doesn’t matter whether that place is useful or self-destructive, it’s a comfortable place where we feel relaxed.
Comfort Zones and all That Stuff
Bad Habits are like “Better the Devil you Know” places. We do something because it satisfies our minds, yet we know it’s not good for us. So why do we do it?
So, when you know you have some writing to do and you don’t do it, you have succumbed to a habit – the wrong one.
You probably went for what was comfortable and easy. Writing isn’t easy. It looks hard when you get up close and analyse the situation. Climbing a mountain is hard, physically hard.
If you planned to write something and it’s not your first time, but somebody says, “Hey, let’s go and climb a mountain, today!” you might find that writing seems like the better choice. Especially when you’ve never been up a mountain before.
You’d find a good excuse why writing is a better deal than climbing a mountain in the wind and cold. Writing is safe, mountain climbing is not only hard, it’s dangerous.
We always go to the comfort zone.
If You Recognise a Habit, you can Beat it
If you know that a habit is not good for you but you continue to do it, then two things are happening. One, you are observing yourself in action, watching how you fall into the trap of following the habit. Two, you are aware that it’s wrong or not helpful to you.
The Mind loves Repetition
Think about this. Your mind is a tool that you use, you are not the habit or any of the other parts of your mind. You control your mind and direct it to express ideas that have an emotional effect on your body and on other parts of your mind. Habits are formed through repetition.
If you had to repeat the action of eating ice cream everyday to make it a habit. I bet you knew at the time that eating ice cream could lead to a bad habit, but you let it go – because it felt so good.
Try some Ice Cream
Writing can be like eating ice cream. You get to like it and begin to feel comfortable doing it. Even the hard stuff becomes enjoyable because your natural desire to be the best gets challenged.
You control your habits when you know that they are emotions, reactions and impulses that only last a few moments.
If you think about a bad habit that you want to overcome and conquer – once and for all – analyse it, focus on it, it is the impulse, that urge that arises when you begin to feel the thought arising. Then watch it for a moment. Don’t react to the thought with emotion, just let it go. Think of it like the image of a cloud passing through the skies of your mind. It’s light and fluffy and behind it is the big sky of your mind.
Doing the above mind-action will help you weaken the impulse of the habit. Do it once, twice, maybe three times when it arises and you’ll begin to notice that it no longer has enough power to grip the emotions like before.
This method was taught to me by my cat. My cat is very wise.
Remembering that a habit is an impulse that starts in the mind as a thought and if you allow it it will develop into a strong emotion. The more you allow it to become an emotion the more power it gains.
The more you focus on it objectively, the weaker it becomes. Thoughts that don’t belong – like avoidance thoughts – are not congruent with your plan to write and therefore are easier than you think to eliminate from your thought patterns. Harmony rules, chaos plays a wicked game as long as you allow it to.
Doing it, Just Do It
How long does it take you to implement a habit?
About 5 seconds, I’d say.
Those 5 seconds are spent dithering in indecisiveness. The mind bats back and forth like a ping-pong ball until you grab at the strongest impulse. Write or eat chocolate?
Which is easier?
If you know the taste of chocolate, you’ll choose chocolate because it offers so much of what you want. The feeling of a smooth, rich block of chocolate that begins to melt on your tongue. The feeling that you want to bite into it and get that satisfying feeling of it crumbling onto your tongue. The taste of hidden sugars that cause your eyes to widen and a feeling of energy that kicks in, so subtle. When the square is eaten do you tell yourself, “That’s enough, put the rest away till later”? Or do you feel like you need to have one more bite and then that’ll do it?
Of course, and the second and third bite lead to new feelings of wanting a drink to wash it down. Your favourite drink, of course – the drink that you habitually drink.
While eating chocolate all thoughts of writing have vanished. You are no longer responsible for them, are you?
The wicked plan of chaos worked and your mind caved into the demands of emotions that only wanted one square of chocolate.
The writing went out the window. Then an hour later you begin to think about writing again.
What next? Guilt, I presume. Have you been eating chocolate? I see crumbs around you mouth.
So now you have a bad habit of eating chocolate and a guilt complex about two things; not getting down to writing and eating too much chocolate.
It’s important to understand the thought process of habit to overcome it.
Focus on the thought that arises – the one you don’t want.
Watch it as if it is a cloud that is just passing through your mind.
Let it pass.
When it is gone, which it will be, turn your mind back to the need to sit down and write.
Allow that thought to expand. Give it room to fill the blue sky of your mind and sit down and begin writing.
When you sit down at your desk and write, you express a habit.
When you don’t sit down and write, you express a habit.
Good habits and bad habits are simply a point of view. What’s better for you?
If you follow the above instructions several things will happen.
You will notice that it gets easier to write and you will therefore write more often. You will understand the process of habit elimination more deeply. You will begin to see that it’s a matter of understanding that habit is always a passing thought that your inquisitive mind grabs for and holds on to. If you hold that thought it will rapidly grow and become a strong emotion that guides your actions. Chocolate or writing?
Use every possible angle to avoid the chocolate thought and go with the writing thought.
Writing is your plan and therefore your harmony, chocolate is a passing cloud of sugar that is chaos in the mind.