CHAPTER 2 – Habit and Pattern Tracking
Now that you have considered how significantly one change, affects the trajectory of your life, let’s take a deep dive into this topic. The exercise you just completed, is an excellent way to make yourself aware of how your thoughts, actions, and life path are connected at the deepest level.
Isn’t it amazing how one, simple thought, such as, “I want to lose weight”, can lead to a chain reaction of changed behaviors? You don’t simply lose weight, you change your entire lifestyle to accommodate the change that you want to see in your life.
It is vitally important to get a great understanding of this concept and how it relates to patterns of behavior in your life, as well as habits. If you have behavior that you consider a “bad habit”, the notion that you are going to stop smoking has much deeper implications, than simply putting down cigarettes.
It is going to require you to understand when and why you picked up a cigarette in the first place. You will need to start at the beginning of the story in order to convince your body, mind, and spirit that you do not need cigarettes.
You would be surprised how many smokers will tell you that their decision to start smoking started with a simple thought, “I need a cigarette”. It wasn’t peer pressure because they saw other people doing it. There are millions of people who have tried a cigarette, with a smoking friend in middle school, or high school, that never picked up another cigarette again.
What makes these people, different from people who tried a cigarette, and continued to smoke afterward? They never had the thought that they needed a cigarette, their intention was set on simply trying one. It didn’t matter to them if they were picking up a tree branch to smoke, the cool kids were doing it. The cigarette was not an important factor in the scenario. There is a huge difference in having a reason to smoke, vs simply smoking for the sake of saying you are cool because you tried a cigarette.
The moment was just another notch on their scholastic belt of mischief, nothing more. It is amazing how intention completely changes a situation when you are on the outside looking in. How would you change your conversations with your preteens, or teens about vaping based on the information above?
The intention has everything to do with the decisions that we make. Developing a deep understanding of what your thoughts may cost you in the long run, is a great motivator to become more mindful. You would be amazed how many people put their health at risk over something trivial, such as being overly emotional behind a break-up.
Yes, a break up is painful, but how will something as drastic as “needing a cigarette” affect your health and well-being in the long run? Let’s take a deeper dive. What is causing the urge to smoke, vs finding a more healthy way to deal with stress? A smoking habit can point to a more troubling pattern of behavior in your life.
Smoking is often, just one of many chosen, unhealthy methods of dealing with stress. Take a moment to consider other risky behaviors you may be involved in because you smoke. Do you also drink? I don’t mean drinking socially every once in a while. I mean drinking so often that your weekly trip to the grocery store includes the liquor aisle, and you know all the bars.
What would happen if you are not able to get a drink, or a cigarette, or both every single day? Would everyone need to run to duck and cover? It takes a certain measure of bravery to admit that you have formed an unhealthy pattern in your life, no matter how progressive you are.
Maybe this is not the time, or place for you, to even have the state of mind to confront such issues.
Whatever your unhealthy habits or patterns are, we are not here to judge you, only to help you to better understand yourself, and help you find your “why”. Did you start drinking before, or after, you started smoking? If your answer is after, or beforehand, I am sure that you see the correlation in the fact both habits are connected, it doesn’t matter which one came first.
This points to a pattern of using substances in response to pain, stress, or other problems. Rather than focusing on the symptoms of the issue, drinking and smoking, we are focusing on the core issue. What is it that drinking and smoking are helping you to avoid? Are you taking a smoke break every hour at work? If so, what is going on at work when you need your smoke breaks?
You would be surprised, how often, what we pass off to be a bad habit, that you only take part in when _______________________, occurs, often, is at a very specific time, in a very specific place, with very specific people, things, or circumstances happening.
Remember how we talked about the people who tried smoking as children but didn’t think they needed cigarettes? They never picked up a cigarette again, because the simple act of smoking one cigarette, gave them the desired result they were looking for, looking, or seeming cool to other children.
The same is true for you, deep down in your core, you know you don’t need cigarettes, or alcohol, you need something that makes you feel better, even if it is just temporary. The liquor and cigarettes are your tools for coping because the desired result you are looking for has not happened yet. What do you really want? I can guarantee it has nothing to do with drinking, nor cigarettes.
This is not discounting an addiction to nicotine. This conversation is directed to those who are fairly new to smoking. Those who are just beginning to form a habit.
CHAPTER 2 JOURNAL EXERCISE
What habits do you want to break?
In order to effectively start tackling your habits, you must find the reason you started the habit. Can you remember the what, where, when, how, and why of how you came to start the bad habit? What made you think that you needed the habit? How do you feel (relief) after participating in this habit? What feelings, situations, or people does your habit suppress? Do you have other similar habits that branch from this one? Use the next few pages to write out what your habits are, and their origin in as much detail as possible. You want to have a specific target to hit.