Are you a slave to your habits?
In AA, and other self-help circles, counsellors warn their clients to avoid certain states of being, as they are triggers for addictive behaviour. States like being hungry, angry, lonely, tired, ...
If we take the example of someone who is an emotional eater:
For them it is important to not get overly hungry, diffuse anger, ground themselves or connect with a friend and get adequate rest, to avoid over eating or choosing foods high in sugar and fat to deal with those emotions.
But there are other triggers that we don’t often think about as such, that most people deal with. Think about for example using food or alcohol to celebrate a victory or as a reward for overcoming obstacles or hard work.
People who find themselves in these states of being on a regular basis, are they creating habits or does it become a way of life? What belief system or lifestyle choices are driving you to overcome the hunger, the anger, the loneliness, or the tiredness?
An example from one of my clients that demonstrates how easy it is to create a cycle:
She had a habit of Netflix binging. One night she would stay up to 2:30 am watching and the next night until 12.30am, while she still had to work during the day. After a 12 hours day of work, in which she didn’t really make time for a healthy meal, she would be overtired and over hungry. Sugar overload was her solution to try and get her through the day and in the evening, she would binge on things like pizza and then fill up with dessert.
Because all of this had become a way of life for her, she realised that she had to make some lifestyle changes instead of just going on a diet. Of course, she knew that she could make better choices: going to bed at 10 pm, setting a limit on how many hours she works a day, and taking a much-needed break to eat healthy food.
But the fact that she wasn’t doing these things made us see that there were belief systems behind her behaviours. What causes her to binge on Netflix late night? Are there emotional needs that she wants Netflix to fill? What is the belief system that drives her to work that much? Is this a fear of never having enough money? Is she trying to pull herself out of a financial hole and beating herself up for the lack of money saved? Why does she not allow herself to take breaks to restore her body?
After finding some answers to these questions, and then checking if her answers were justified or only her limiting beliefs, she knew where to make the changes to create some new habits: she learned to do a meditation before going to bed at 10 pm, to ground and calm herself, instead of distracting her mind with Netflix. She now plans her month so she can have a bit of extra time off each week and make better choices regarding budget. And she now takes breaks to eat during the day!
Setting goals, setting boundaries, making plans, being proactive and having support... That is real change. And only you yourself have the power to create your ideal life.