In this post I am going to finalize the ‘exhilarating defiance’ character and with it the series on habits as well as the two are intertwined and interlinked. We will therefore here be looking at how one can prevent habits from developing in the first place as well as how one can utilize the principle of establishing momentum as an effective way to establish new self-directive habits.
Let’s first have a look at how to prevent destructive habits from developing.
Interestingly enough, when I went to search for articles on this topic – I didn’t find any. There are an abundant amount of articles on how habits are formed and how to break them, but not on how to prevent them from developing.
So instead we will investigate this for ourselves here. As previously discussed habits are behaviors that we repeat so often/consistently that they become automated. Habits therefore often becomes things we simply do without putting any effort or thought into it – we simply do it. What this means is that the habit is often developed through conditioning the physical body and mind – like literal brainwashing into a certain ‘mode’ or ‘state’ of existing.
To understand how this works, let’s look at the origin of the word ‘Habit’:
early 13c., “characteristic attire of a religious or clerical order,” from Old French habit, abit (12c.) “clothing, (ecclesiastical) habit; conduct,” from Latin habitus “condition, demeanor, appearance, dress,” originally past participle of habere “to have, to hold, possess,” from PIE root *ghabh- “to seize, take, hold, have, give, receive” (cf. Sanskrit gabhasti- “hand, forearm;” Old Irish gaibim “I take, hold, I have,” gabal “act of taking;” Lithuanian gabana “armful,” gabenti “to remove;” Gothic gabei “riches;” Old English giefan, Old Norse gefa “to give”).
Base sense probably “to hold,” which can be either in offering or in taking. Applied in Latin to both inner and outer states of being, and taken over in both sense by English, though meaning of “dress” is now restricted to monks and nuns. Meaning “customary practice” is early 14c. Drug sense is from 1887.
mid-14c., “to dwell,” from Old French habiter “to dwell, inhabit; have dealings with,” from Latin habitare “to live, dwell,” frequentative of habere “to have, to hold, possess” (see habit (n.)). Meaning “to dress” is from 1580s; “to habituate” from 1610s; “to make a habit of” from 1660s. Related: Habited; habiting.
In Danish, my native language ‘habit’ literally means ‘suit’ – like the kind of suit business men wear to go to work. And similarly, in one of the original definitions, a habit is actually religious attire or a piece of clothing. As such, a habit is something that we wear, that we cover ourselves in that we step into and allow to represent us as we move about our day. In a more direct sense, it also means ‘condition’ which is exactly as I described above a ‘state’ that we step into and accept as a part of who we are. But as can be seen above the essential meaning of the word is ‘to hold’. As such we hold ourselves in and as a habit, we walk around in it and we condition ourselves to/as it. Similar with the verb ‘habit’, it is something that we dwell in/on.
Therefore the point of preventing habits from developing has a lot to do with the starting-point of who and what we accept ourselves as, as that is from which we form our behaviors, that will either be self-directed or conditioned by the past in terms of preprogrammed and taught behaviors as well as forms of self-induction into certain patterns of behavior.
There is nothing wrong with habits in itself. It is simply a repetitive pattern of behavior that becomes something we ‘naturally’ do. And therefore, an important step to preventing destructive habits from forming is to walk a process to become self-directed and self-willed so that the habits we do participate in are ones we have decided upon for ourselves because we see they are supportive for ourselves. Another relevant point is then also to ‘catch’ repetitive patterns before they develop into habits, which is for example when we see a couple of days in a row that we are oversleeping or that we keep participating in the same thought over and over. The point here is that these behaviors aren’t simply happening by themselves. It is something that we are actively and deliberately accepting and allowing within ourselves within and through our participation in the mind based on virtually already living in and existing in the past. So a habit always starts somewhere, with one point of compromise where we give into the mind and accept and validate that “This is who I am” – even if we don’t do it consciously as a conscious thought, we still do it through the act of participating in the thought or behavior. So this is where we must set in, in terms of becoming self-directed and self-honest, to be able to stop the pattern in its initial stages and thereby doing ourselves a great favor by not first having to walk through the development of a habit (which also comes with a suppressing and lying to ourselves about what we’re doing), to then have to reverse it and stop its momentum.
What I see for myself in terms of the habits that I have developed that aren’t best for me and so not best for all is that they are developed based on a flawed set of values where I have valued for instance ideas about freedom through escaping responsibility. This is then something that is taught or preprogrammed and that I then have made my own religion where the habit of living this flawed principle becomes the ‘suit’ or religious cloak I place myself into on a daily basis. As such an important part of stopping habits and stopping habits from developing is also to get to understand ‘who’ one has accepted oneself as, especially if the habit is difficult to stop on a physical level, because it indicates that one has invested oneself personally into the habit and defined oneself according to it and thereby doesn’t want to let it go – basically because one is still brainwashed to for example believe that freedom = escaping responsibility or that the positive energetic experience one derives from participating in the habit is a real value or a real expression of joy. But then there is also another dimension in terms of how habits develop. This can for example be the habit of sleeping in or oversleeping. This is something we often do within a state of suppression where we literally use sleep to hide form ourselves and/or a point in our reality that we don’t want to face. But then we can for example develop the habit of oversleeping and eventually ‘forget’ about the point we didn’t want to face and our entire attention goes to try and ‘fight’ this ‘bad habit’ – – when in fact there was an important point we had to face in self-honesty underneath and being the origin of why we created the habit in the first place. So habits are used by the mind where we contain ourselves in certain modes of behavior that become automated and thereby we are ‘safely’ locked into the mind on a ‘repeat and shuffle’ mode where we don’t ‘risk’ actually facing ourselves in self-honesty and risk the dominion of the mind over the body and the being.
And within this the body plays a very important role, because see for instance how often the body is blamed for an addiction or habit that is created through the mind. I remember reading an article once about being addicted to fast food, where a woman said that the problem is that the body just loves all that grease and salt but that the mind must be strong to resist these urges. The problem with this is that it is actually in reverse. The body has been conditioned to want and crave for that which suits the mind (I will discuss this in an upcoming blog-series) and again we divert attention from what is important for us to change, when we blame our ‘bad habits’ on the body, because we experience it through the body and because we for example experience withdrawal symptoms through the body when we quit an addiction. But if we have a look, the addiction or habit started in the mind. And it has even gotten to the point where we exist in generational habitual patterns which means that our bodies are conditioned at a cellular level, leaving even our young children quickly developing harmful habits. Within blaming addictions and harmful habits on the body (or even on the mind) we separate ourselves from the responsibility of being the creators of the habits in the first place in the relationship we exist in with/as the body and the mind.
And as such, the most important aspect of stopping, changing and preventing habits – is to establish self-directed self-leadership. What I mean by ‘self-directed’ is for example to enable oneself to make an executive decision about not sleeping in. This can be done through understanding how and why one created the habit, by taking responsibility for this and also directing any points that may be behind why one is sleeping in and also by understanding the consequences of one sleeping in – both individually and in a larger existential context. Via this, one will now have a direct understanding of the nature of the habit, why it exists, how it exists, what it’s consequences are – and this will then be a sound foundation from which one can make an actual directive decision to change, but also within this – to decide to change self. Because as we’ve discussed, we do the things we do because of who and what we accept ourselves as. So an important aspect of this point of changing habits is also to change who and what we accept ourselves as, simultaneously with the process of changing the physical habit. And then the foundation is laid out for us to make the practical changes required in our lives, which can include a lot of testing and experimenting to see what works or to change certain points in our environment. This is the fun part, because now that we’ve established self-responsibility and self-direction, it is simply a matter of playing around and see what works and to keep going until we’ve effectively changed the pattern.
If we have a look at the world and how it and we exist, we are virtually a community of people comprising of destructive and harmful habit. And therefore, changing a habit from destructive to self-supportive does not only benefit ourselves, but also everyone else, firstly because we stop recreating the same flawed consequences and outflows, but also because we change what we individually bring into and contribute with in the world. And that is essentially one of the most vital ingredients in the recipe for changing the world.
So the point essentially is to stop accepting oneself as a creature of habit, where it’s the habit that makes us ‘who’ we are, so that we can be and become the creators of supportive habits that will support the habitat that is this world to grow and develop into a place that is best for every living creature.
I commit myself to redefine the word ‘habit’ within myself and how I live this word as a living expression of myself – from a word that I have used to justify my abdication of myself as the creator of myself and my reality to a supportive tool that I can utilize to direct myself on a daily basis within establishing supportive behavioral patterns for and within myself.
And I commit myself to work with preventing harmful and destructive patterns from developing through being aware, through being here with myself in self-honesty and to whenever I see that I am accepting and allowing myself to participate in destructive or harmful behavior, to immediately direct myself within self-responsibility to correct myself and my behavior and who I am within and as this behavior.
I commit myself to change the habits that I accept and allow myself to participate within and as from automated patterns based on preprogramming and conditioning in which I’ve separated myself from myself and abdicated responsibility for myself to habits that I myself decide to establish because they are practical and supportive for me in terms of supporting who I decide to be as a human being existing on this earth to establish a world that is best for all life, including myself and my physical body.
I commit myself to stop abdicating self-responsibility for the harmful and destructive habits that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to exist within and as through blaming the habit on my past, on the body, on the mind or on other people/society. And I commit myself to instead take responsibility for myself within as the mind and the body and in society for understanding how I’ve developed destructive habits and within assisting myself to stop and change these habits.
A habitat is a living environment. It is the body and it is the earth. I commit myself to stop contaminating my habitat through accepting and allowing myself to live and exist within habits that aren’t best for myself or all life. I commit myself to become a being that honors, cares for and values the habitat that is myself, my body and this earth and to reflect this in the habits that I participate within in and that reflect who I am on a daily basis.
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