When A “Habit” Isn’t Just a “Habit”

Any addiction is basicly a habit, and a habit, if allowed to grow out of control, can easily morph into an addiction.

So what’s a habit, and how does it sprout into something more?

A “habit” starts because we think doing something will make us HAPPY, HELP us achieve something we don’t think is possible, allow us to HAVE more than we seem to. But it is also a way of HIDING. We rationalize: “If I drink, I’ll be more relaxed and have a better social life.” “If I eat this ice cream, I’ll feel better about the crappy day (marriage, job) I am in.” “The more I buy, the more I’ll be noticed.” “If I have a lot of sex, I’ll stop being lonely.”

Pretty soon, what started as an occational ACTIVITY becomes an every-day thing. We find ourselves ACCEPTING things that we never would have before, and by ALLOWING ourselves to do these things, we give ourselves permission to keep doing whatever we’re doing without thinking about why we’re actually doing it. “Oh, I only smoked three cigarettes, what’s two more?” “I only ate half the box of cookies, so I’m OK.” “I still have $20, so my gambling isn’t a problem.”

Next, the habit BURROWS deeper inside us. What we at first saw as just a little harmless fun now becomes a BURDEN. We can’t live our lives without having one more drink, playing one more video game, buying a bigger TV or faster car. We BELIEVE we are defined by what we have, who we’re with, and we see the habit as the key that gives us those things. We BECOME defined by our actions instead of by who we truly are.

At this stage, the habit can become so INGRAINED that we can’t separate it from the rest of who we are. But we also IGNORE all the signs in our lives that are screaming at us to stop, to change. We chalk up ILLNESS, whether it’s physical, spiritual, mental, emotional or whatever, and find all sorts of other IRRATIONAL explanations for why we’re having all the difficulties we’re having.

But, at the root of every habit is TRUTH.

We are not what we eat. We don’t get anything beyond stuff when we buy things. Chemical reactions in our brains and bodies can’t mask what we’re truly feeling. Cheap sex isn’t the same as love, and love isn’t the romantic dinners or Hollywood-inspired getaways full of steamy hot tubs and beautiful island sunsets. We can spend and spend and spend and still have absolutely nothing but emptiness to show for it at the end of the day.

The TRUTH often hurts, and it often is unwelcome because it’s shown to us by people we “think” love us. We don’t want to hear what they’re saying, even when they’re totally right and only have our best in mind.

But if we tear away all the shiny packaging, all the cheap “everybody-does-it” bravado, all the noise and chatter we fill our lives with, we’re left with silence, a mirror, our true self, and the universe.

From this position, we have only two choices. We can keep on going in the same direction, trying to stuff our empty hearts with empty products and ephemeral “services” that don’t really address our underlying emptiness.

Or we can start the hard, lifelong work of discovering who we truly are, breaking free of former habits that we used to use to try and mold ourselves into someone “acceptable” or “worthy” of society.

God created each of us in a unique way. But we are also just as human and just as (extra)ordinary as every other person on the planet. We are simultaneously special and not, and as long as we keep this strange and wonderful mystery in mind, we can begin to appreciate ourselves for ourselves, while at the same time not taking ourselves too seriously.

Habits are built over time, and they are only broken over time, too. Even if you quit doing something cold turkey, you still have the ongoing task of taking care of filling the place you used to fill with that habit.

So, today, be Happy with who you are. ACCEPT that everything you’ve experienced, even the unpleasant parts, was necessary to make you who you are in this moment. BEGIN each moment as a fresh start, leaving the past in the past because you can’t change it now that it’s been done. INVITE others into your heart; sometimes it hurts, but we all have valuable lessons to teach and learn. And finally, TRUST that you have everything you need at every moment, even if it doesn’t outwardly seem like you do.

These things, these ideas, can just as easily become HABITS, too.

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Explore posts in the same categories: metaphysics, spirituality

2 Comments on “When A “Habit” Isn’t Just a “Habit””

  1. Glenn Says:

    That is some of truthiest truth I have read! Thank you so much for the reminders and the encouragement.

  2. halfnotes Says:

    Glenn,

    Thanks for the visit and the comment. We can dance around the issue all we want, but truth is always the best course, even if it’s not always the most pleasant.


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