I’ve heard every single excuse, motive and complaint of why someone is stuck, why they cannot change their lives. They repeatedly insist that someday, perhaps tomorrow, change will finally come to their lives.
The most common issue I hear a lot is, “I will start my diet after the holidays,” and they do as they promise, only to give up a week later. If they are resilient, they will last 2 weeks. But most of them go back to the way they were before.
Who am I kidding. I’ve been there as well. Stuck in a cycle of self-destruction. It’s not fully our faults, the way we behave. A lot can be traced back to the way we were raised, the country we live in, our families, our communities even our DNA. There are many studies made about this, one of the most controversial studies made about how environment shapes behavior is the zimbardo prison study. Where a couple of students spent a few weeks in a simulated prison. After a few days, some of the students affected by the change, started to behave like prison inmates. And although the study is hugely disregard due to inconsistencies, true lies in between. We are more likely to behave according to what’s expected of us and our environments.
Many things have an effect in the way we are. And that’s okay. No need to resist something that can’t be changed. It’s easier to blame, complain and fight than to accept and change. It’s easier to eat, process and digest than to move, repeat and sweat. It’s human nature to be comfortable. To do the same things we did last year. To follow the same routines. Eat the same foods and wish at night for a different reality next day. But
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.
Doing the same things everyday, EXPECTING a different reality is crazy.
Although I believe what I said in the paragraph above to be true, I also believe that we are the product of our choices, we are shaped by the choices we make.
Stephen Covey explains this further in his book The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness which I totally recommend. He explains that after every stimulus there is a gap where we decide how we are going to respond to such stimulus, and whatever we decide is how we start shaping our destiny.
But how can we change years of negative behaviours and habits? In the past couple of years, I have used 3 techniques that helped me take control of my actions and behaviours. Here they are:
First things first. Surrender
Surrender to your imperfections, pains, reality, whatever it is. Surrender.
Surrendering is not weak, is the opposite, surrendering is empowering and strong. It allows you to let go of things you cannot control therefore giving you more control and power. What can a man gain if he were to spend all his life wishing to become taller when his parents are not tall at all? He will gain a life full of wishing. Hours lost in the future, and more to come lost in the past once he realises how he spent all those years wishing instead of living. Life is and will never stop being. Things are what they are and 99 percent of the time we have no control over things. Surrendering to life and to the present moment it’s all you can ever truly be. Spending time in your mind in the past and future is fruitless. The only thing there is, the now. Even when you are thinking of the future you are thinking in the now. Let me repeat that. Even when you are thinking of the future you are thinking in the now. Make your life a life of now and you’ll be ahead of the game.
Second. Be aware of what you do everyday.
Your brain is a computer that learns from your day-to-day behaviours. Once it has learned the way you carry your day. It will try to repeat the same behaviour so that it can save energy that could be use elsewhere. Everything you do for the first time you do it consciously, but once the mind learns it, it delegates the task to the subconscious mind. Both of these “systems” are what makes the human mind so powerful. It allows you to do things without using any mind at all while you focus in other things.
Perfect example of this is driving. When you started driving everything you did was very conscious, as your mind started learning the patterns it stopped being a conscious process. Now when you drive you can even listen to music, talk to people, text and even be under the influence of alcohol. But once the driver becomes too subconscious in their driving the inevitable happens. Accidents. They crash. If they are not so lucky it might be much worse. Death.
Life is the same. You cannot live your life in autopilot because your life will go down the drain. Everything will be okay till it isn’t. Life tends to do that a lot; one day everything is fine and the next day is a disaster. How did this happen? We spent most of our time thinking in the future and forgetting ourselves in the past. We forget to pay attention to what is most important. What is in front of us. And yet the majority of society lives in autopilot, they barely ever truly notice what is going right in front of them. They stop seeing, and so they stop living. They become their own worst enemy.
Pay a lot of attention to what you do everyday, make it a conscious decision and fill your day with things that only make you feel better in the long run.
I always found it fascinating that the beginning in one of my favorite books had the next poem:
I am your constant companion.
I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden.
I will push you onward or drag you down to
I am completely at your command.
Half of the things you do you might as well turn
over to me and I will do them – quickly and
I am easily managed – you must be firm with me.
Show me exactly how you want something done
and after a few lessons, I will do it automatically.
I am the servant of great people,
and alas, of all failures as well.
Those who are great, I have made great.
Those who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine though
I work with the precision of a machine
plus the intelligence of a person.
You may run me for profit or run me for ruin –
it makes no difference to me.
Take me, train me, be firm with me, and
I will place the world at your feet.
Be easy with me and I will destroy you.
Who am I?
Third… Know the things you don’t want to be.
Everyone always asked me. What do you want to be when you grow up… What do you want to be after you finish university…, so many times Ive got asked that question.
I kept that question in my head, repeating it, over and over. Day in and day out. Fast forward to now, and I can tell you that I have no clue of what I want to be. I got caught in the norm. I kept asking myself what am I to be when I grow up. I pressure myself to find my true path.Till I realised that the question I was asking myself was not helping me whatsoever. I decided to change my approach and instead started to ask myself the next question: Who I don’t want to be.
Albert Einstein said:
It is difficult to say what truth is, but sometimes is so easy to recognize a falsehood’
The same happens here.
It’s harder to tell what you want to be. But it’s easier to know what you don’t want to be.
I can tell you once I asked myself that question. I found my answer in less than a minute. I didn’t want to be myself, I didn’t want to be like my friends, I didn’t want to be like anyone that spends all his live wishing, hoping, complaining, comparing, fighting. I didn’t want to be any of those.
Just hoping for a different reality where there is none to hope.