Habit - from the
Health and Healing Series at SupportNet.ca - Resources
for Your Recovery.
Recovery is learning to enjoy
life - without the use of alcohol or drugs that alter
mind or mood.
It is treatment for the condition of addiction -
an approach to the challenges of life - and a path
to personal growth.
Recovery requires us to learn - about the true nature
It may be personalized - but it has its necessary
Principles and its Ways.
The Principles of Recovery provide direction - to
the choices that we face each day.
The Ways of Recovery provide
us with tools - that help us to heal - and to enjoy
life on life’s
This Learning Seminar helps us in Understanding
What you need to know about habits - and the ways
to change your life for the better.
Habit refers to something that we have done many
times before - and that we can now do routinely -
without needing to think through each of its steps.
It is an over learned behavior that has printed
its pattern within our body and brain - like typing
on a keyboard - riding a bicycle or driving a car.
When we first learned to ride a bike - it was all
Our mind jumped to each piece of what we were doing
- our balance - keeping the handlebars straight -
and peddling our feet.
But once we had learned to ride - it all came together.
Our body then knew its job - and we could look to
the road ahead.
Bicycle riding is an example of how habit can serve
The activity is routine - but it would be dangerous
if we always had to keep track of our feet and hands
- and to not be watching where we are going.
Habit is useful when it frees our mind from routine
And there are many things that our body can do better
- when our mind gets out of the way.
We can learn a new habit with practice.
But a habit can also develop on its own - just by
our doing the same thing over and again.
We may not even notice a habit - until we need to
do something differently than our usual.
And it is then that we realize that habit is not
always to our advantage.
Habits develop for the sole reason that we do the
same thing over and again.
They do not distinguish between behaviors that are
healthy, correct or effective - from those that are
And therefore a habit can serve us well - or it
can cause us a great deal of difficulty.
We learn our deepest habits as children - when our
families show us how to relate to one another.
We may be taught healthy ways or not. But regardless
- these habits become a part of our adult personality.
And it is these habits we are least likely to see
- and have the greatest difficulty to change.
It is important to remember that the purpose of
habit is to free our mind from repetitive detail.
Once a habit has formed - we do not see the many
parts hidden within it.
And once we have become accustomed
to the habit - we don’t even pay much attention
It is like a building that is made from bricks and
wires and plumbing tube.
Once the building is completed - we do not look
at it and see all of these pieces - we just see the
And once we have passed by
the building every day - we don’t give it
much more notice.
Sometimes habits develop in reaction to stress -
snacking on junk food, smoking or overeating.
We do these things because they can calm us during
a stressed or pressured day.
But as these behaviors develop to a habit - other
problems may eventually arise.
Many stress related habits are not healthy for us
- particularly if allowed to continue for years of
And when we are stuck in responding by habit - we
may not see the cause of our stress - or learn to
face its feelings.
We don’t learn better ways to deal with the
issues of our life - and we don’t make change
- except to eat or to smoke more.
Saying yes to others - Care taking - Avoiding our
feeling - Staying up too late at night - Avoiding
conflict - or Rushing through the day.
We develop all sorts of habits in our relations
with others - in our daily activities and patterns
But whether healthy, adaptive, useful or not - habits
take on a life of their own.
They bury our feelings within them - fade from our
attention - and become another part of the mindless
routine of our day.
The first step to change any habit is to see it
for what it is - and to notice the many ways that
we justify its ongoing presence in our life.
Rushing through the day is a common habit. We tell
our selves that there is no other way - and that
there is so much to be done.
But it is just another habit that we have grown
accustomed to - believing that life is all about
doing - and not about being.
Take a break from your habit. Stop for a quiet lunch
on your own - an entire hour out of the day.
Notice the stuff that comes to your mind. Things
that you had been too busy to think of - thoughts
of all the things that you should be doing
- instead of just sitting here - and feelings
- of pleasure - or guilt that you are taking this
time for your self.
The only way to know the thoughts and feelings buried
within your habit - is to step out of its routine
- and to do something different today.
It is then that you notice the pull to do things
the same way - just one more time - or feelings
of impatience, guilt or fear.
Take time to explore these feelings - to sit with
them - and to not let them push you about.
Journal Write - Talk with others in recovery - Listen
to how they have made changes in their life - and
what feelings they had to face.
It is by learning to sit with the feelings that
follow change - that we retrieve the power that we
had given over to habit.
Understand that it takes time to change a habit.
The old way feels comfortable - a new way awkward
- for a few days or weeks.
It takes about three months for a new way to feel
natural. But a new and healthy habit - will eventually
come to feel as comfortable - as a previous habit
And always remember the traditional saying - If
you want to go east - don’t go west. The
way to find a new way - is to let the old one go.
Learn all that you can about stress and stress management.
Consider new ways to care for, calm and express
Learn your triggers to the old habit - and prepare
your self with a plan.
Remember HALT -
and don’t let yourself
get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. These will
weaken your resolve to persist on your new path.
Ask for help for the courage to change.
Ask for help in your prayer, from your recovery
supports - or from a doctor if a medical aid may
Place reminders to your self where you will see
them during your day - a post it note to reassure
your self of your goal.
Habit is an over learned behavior that has printed
its pattern within our body and brain
The way to break a habit is to take a different
way today - and to learn how to sit with the feelings
that come up from inside you.
It is when we say No to habit - that we
learn what is hidden underneath - and that we learn
a bit more about our self today.
You have now reached the end of Understanding
Look for this and other Learning Seminars at www.SupportNet.ca
- Resources for Your Recovery.