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“We become what we repeatedly do.”

Sean Covey

free your mind change habitsMy partner and I have two cats. One of them has created a habit of chewing on our electrical wires and cords. This started happening shortly after it became winter and the cats retreated inside. So they obviously aren’t as active as they are during the summer where they stay out all day and sometimes all night. So the male cat ‘suddenly’ started chewing on the wires. And because we didn’t want him to chew on the wires we tried all kinds of things to make him stop, from rubbing the wires with lemon juice or Tabasco to telling him “no!” hissing at him and placing him in a different room. But what we also did was to accept this behavior as a ‘signal’ that he wanted to play or eat. So a couple of times, especially within a reaction of desperation and frustration I would give him food or start playing with him. This has now developed into a habit where he will use the point of chewing on the wires to coax me into playing with him. Because I can’t get him to stop, nothing has worked thus far. We have even had similar ‘bad habits’ developing with the female cat where she would for example scratch my hands, arms and face when she was a kitten and wanted food in the morning, or she would suddenly come and scratch me on the back while I was working. In any case, it only took a few times of me giving in and giving her food for these behaviors to develop into a habit. The only way I’ve been able to progressively change the cats behavior has been through ignoring the ‘signal’ and thus reverse it so that they don’t for example associate scratching with getting food. Unfortunately with the male cat chewing the wires, I cannot ignore it. First of all it is dangerous as he can get electrocuted and secondly the wires are expensive as he has a particular inclination for eating Apple wires, like the wire to my laptop or phone. So what I have started now with – after a failed experiment of hissing at him where he first got petrified and since learned that I’m not an actual threat – a regime of ‘deprogramming’ his ‘bad habit’ through immediately picking him up and placing him in the bedroom as soon as he starts chewing on the wires. The idea is that instead of something fun happening when he chews on the wires (like playing or food) something boring has to happen, like him being placed in the bedroom with the door shut. At first I was a bit apprehensive towards this course of action, because I compared it to a child getting a ‘time-out’ but I have realized that I must do something significant to reverse this habit. And the point of placing him in the bedroom is not a punishment, but a strategic way of removing the association of chewing wires with something ‘fun’ and ‘enjoyable’ and instead showing him that it has a consequence that isn’t particular enjoyable. Because I cannot explain the point to him – I cannot explain to him the potential consequence of him getting electrocuted and dying or explain to him that these wires are too expensive to function as chew toys. So now I use the ‘time-out’ method as a practical tool to deprogramming my cats’ ‘bad behavior’. What I do however see is that the absolute best would obviously have been to prevent the habit from developing in the first place and I see that this is a responsibility that falls on my partner and myself. Because cats are (like humans) extremely prone to create habits and it only takes approximately two to three times of repetition before they ‘connect the dots’ and conclude that “When I do that, this happens.” – So the problem really occurred when I started playing with him or giving him food when he chewed on the wires, because in that I sowed the seed for the habit to develop. And it is fascinating how it only took at couple of repetitions to establish the pattern, while changing it takes a process of at least double the effort in terms of vehemently removing the cat from the wires and placing him in the bedroom. Now – obviously there’s an entire area of psychology, namely behaviorism devoted to these kinds of patterns yet what I am describing here is at the same time fascinatingly basic. So what I realized as I looked at the process I am walking with changing my cats behavior, is that it is no different for me as a human when it comes to changing my own behavior. Walking with the cats and seeing the dedication I have to put into changing their ’bad habits’ has assisted me because I would get angry and frustrated towards not being able to simply ‘get rid of’ my own ‘bad’ habits. But the truth of the matter is that the ‘dedication’ I have placed into creating the habits, the repeated thoughts and actions – I have to be equally or even more dedicated to stop. And obviously once a habit becomes automated – especially if it also involves the physical body – it requires a similar action of placing the cat in the room. But the cool thing with being able to write is that I can place myself ‘in the room’ figuratively in terms of self-honestly looking at the consequences of my actions and through writing commit myself to change this habit as well as giving myself a clear direction for how to stop the habit.

Self-Forgiveness

I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not realize, see and understand how I have accumulated certain specific habits that are detrimental to my overall wellbeing as well as detrimental to what is best for all as life in general and that I have instead become frustrated and angry towards myself for not simply being able to immediately change a behavior in one moment

I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to deceive myself into believing that I don’t know how I have accumulated myself into a certain behavioral pattern within perceiving it as ‘suddenly’ becoming a problem when in fact I know see and realize that habits are formed through repetitive participation which indicates that I am self-responsible for creating a habit through repeatedly accepting and allowing myself to repeat the behavior

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to create habits that are detrimental to myself and to what is best for all through lying to myself in making myself ‘unaware’ of what I am doing as I repeat a certain behavior when in fact I was and I am aware of what I do and what I accept

I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to become frustrated and angry when I keep falling in a commitment to change a certain behavior – instead of simply being diligent in my decision to stop the behavior as well as understanding how a habit is created through repetition and how an equal directive change of what I repeat on a daily basis is required for me to accumulate myself into a new way of existing where I don’t accept and allow myself to engage in detrimental and destructive habits

I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not realize, see and understand that I cannot simply change a habit that I have accumulated through repeated participation through wanting it to change or through saying that I will change it – when in fact I have to diligently change ’who I am’ as I participate in my daily activities and as such moment by moment reverse the habit that I’ve created for myself

I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not diligently commit to changing the habits in my life that are detrimental to my own wellbeing as well as to what is best for all – and within that stay committed to changing the behavior and stopping the habit even when I fall

I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not realize, see or understand that ‘bad habits’ is not simply something that ‘happens’ because it requires my permission, my active participation and even my initiation for the habit to play out – which makes me solely responsible for the habits that I accept and allow myself to participate in – as there exists not ‘other part’ of myself or any form of external ‘entity’ as though my mind or my body were separate ‘entities’ – because nothing happens within or through me that I haven’t permitted, participated in or initiated – as the mind and the body are part of who I am, even though the body is currently existing as a slave to the mind and even though I almost exclusively have given the mind reign over my being

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to not understand, see or realize that changing a habit is a matter of practically, physically accumulating myself into a different way of living than following the habit I have accepted as ‘norm’ for myself – and that this change starts with me not following the thoughts that comes up through the mind, the emotions, feelings and experiences that comes up through the mind and the subsequent physical experiences that I within and as the mind superimposes onto the body blaming the body and thus renouncing my self-responsibility and keeping myself locked into a habit

I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to focus more on how I see and experience and judge and perceive myself in a negative light when I look at the ‘bad’ habits that I accept and allow myself to participate within and as, as well as ‘pondering’ ‘WHY’ I have become the way I am – instead of moving and directing myself to focusing on implementing solutions through which I can assist and support myself to stop the habit and change who I am as I go through my day

I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to split myself into two different ’personas’ where one is who I perceive and define myself as in my mind, both in a positive and negative self-definition and the other is who I am in fact through my actions – which would be the ‘real’ me in this context because this is the ‘me’ that is actually Here existing in this physical reality producing consequences and outflows in my environment

I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to create a self-deceptive and delusional positive image and definition of myself in my mind where I believe myself to be living according to certain values and principles – when in fact my actions shows that I am not in any way whatsoever – thus indicating that I must be living according to different values and principles that I’ve kept hidden/secret from myself

I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to create a negative delusional and self-deceptive image and definition of myself in my mind where I judge myself and come up with these ideas about myself as being an ‘overall bad person’ or ’I never do anything right’ and similar absolutist statements about myself when in fact who I am in my daily practical living is not overall bad or wrong or ineffective and so I see how I tend to go into either this positive or negative self-definition of which neither has anything to do with actual reality.

I will continue in the next post…

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,

Your thoughts become your words,

Your words become your actions,

Your actions become your habits,

Your habits become your values,

Your values become your Desteni.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

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Artwork: Andrew Gable

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