We have all been the victim of our own bad habits!
Sometimes those bad habits seem so far entrenched in our every day lives that we are helpless against them. No matter how hard we know we shouldn't be doing them, having a lack of mindfulness can lead you to not even realize you are sabotaging yourself until it's too late!
Bringing mindfulness into your life can be so powerful with a small amount of planning and some ingenuity, even breaking some bad habits you thought you had ZERO power to overcome.
When I was in the corporate world, my life was riddled with unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with the stress and depression I experienced on a daily basis. Of these coping mechanisms perhaps one of the most damaging to my physical health was a nasty habit of having a martini almost every night I came home.
I knew I needed to stop this habit but in the short-term it became a release...a way to wind down from the stresses of the day and medicate myself to a calmer place.
But how could I get past this habit that was so engrained in me that I had already prepared a drink and put it to my lips by the time I was cognizant of my actions?
I needed an obstacle, something to get in my way so I could become mindful of my actions!
Here's what I did:
- I put the cocktail shaker on the bar in the dining room, far away from the kitchen where I would have to walk across the house to get to it.
- I placed my favorite gin high up on the top shelf of my cabinet in a corner so I would have to climb on the counter to get to it.
- I stored the olive brine deep in the refrigerator, behind the condiments so I had to move them in order to find it.
At first having these obstacles in my way only served to annoy me more than my stressful day already had. I would swear to myself as I had to perform each ritual to make my drink. Or swear that I would stop rearranging everything.
But soon, I found that just the simple act of having to jump all these hurdles started to make me think...
"Is it really worth it to go through all this for a drink?"
"Am I just going to regret making this drink once I'm done like last time?"
By forcing these questions upon myself I found that the answers entered my mind and brought me to a place where I became mindful of my current actions. It was REALLY effective!
Give this strategy a shot and you may find that your bad habits don't have so much control over you afterall!
Some quick tips if you want to try blocking your own bad habits with obstacles:
- Make the obstacles easy to install, don't come up with a crazy ritual to disrupt a highly habitual one.
- Put the obstacles in key areas that interrupt your "automated behavior" before you get there.
- Find hiding places or put things in places where they make no sense. Habits are tied to logic, disrupt them!
- Get creative! The best obstacles make you laugh, confuse you or even surprise you!
Have fun coming up with your obstacles. Don't let your absent mind have control over you, challenge it and discover the power you have over your bad habits!