October 4 - What We "Know" Can Hurt Us!

John sat in my office today, head down, hope up, with only one big obstacle in the way of his desire to stop drinking and find sobriety. He wanted to do it his way, the way he “knew” would work for him. Oh, he was eager to hear my suggestions, and he nodded at all of the appropriate places. But he said he didn’t like groups, and he wouldn’t agree...yet…to go to twelve-step meetings and/or eClubSoda.

And I understood why.

Old habits and addictions often stand firmly in our way of creating new behaviors. Change is almost always elusive at first, and often we have to do it the old way, time and time again…creating the same unfavorable consequences…to finally see that we indeed need to try a new way. This often entails doing some things we actually do not like to do so that we can eventually achieve that which we want very badly. The good news is that John has agreed to come back and to set up some sort of new support structure. Together we are giving his unconscious mind a chance to catch up with that which his adult mind desires.

On the eClubSoda call one night a lovely woman shared how she knew intellectually that she should not continue to work excessively all of the time. When she was a child, her mother used to insist that she clean up her room before she could go out to play…out of this was born a compulsive, lifelong urge to work constantly; she never “finished” everything there was to do, so she never felt she could go out and play. Even though intellectually she now realized she had misinterpreted her mother’s remark and that working all of the time was not healthy for her mind, spirit or body, she still found herself resisting play or rest. Her unconscious mind was stuck in what she used to “know.”

Another example of this resistance to change is present from time to time in my own life. Over the last year I have said over and over again, “Tomorrow I really need to start my exercises again.” And every day I did not…until three weeks ago, that is.

What is it that makes new habits so difficult to implement…at least at first? What can we do to make this process a bit easier? Why is it that what we want so much can seem so impossible to realize?

Amazingly enough, it is the same power of the mind that enables change that also is responsible for the mind’s resistance to change! It is what helps us retain knowledge…what keeps us alive...what is intrinsic to human nature…that actually keeps us stuck in old behaviors. We must practice the new behavior, even when we do not want to do it, in order to introduce and familiarize the mind to the change we are seeking.

If we understand what we are up against, it will be much easier to be able to break through old patterns and create new ones. If we expect resistance and are prepared for it, we are much closer to achieving success than we would be otherwise. If we have a clear and simple plan already designed to bring us closer to our vision and our implementing it is nonnegotiable, success will soon be ours.

For years I refused to go to twelve-step meetings. But when I wanted sobriety more than I wanted to keep my old ideas, I went, even when I didn’t want to go anywhere near them, and it was only then that I was able to stop drinking alcohol. When my client is willing to step out of what he “knows” he won’t like and try it anyway, he will be much more likely to achieve that which he truly wants.

Hopefully, my friend will actually begin to take some time off just to relax, and even though it may be uncomfortable at first she will soon start to reap the healthy benefits of this practice. Eventually, she will find herself thoroughly able to enjoy play and relaxation…she will have created a new habit!

Recently I made a non-negotiable plan to reinstate my exercise program… I committed to exercising each morning during the Wake-Up Well call on eClubSoda. I have done it each day since, even though often I didn’t feel like doing it at all at first. It worked because I had set up a structure that was not only fun but also reminded me of what I truly wanted so that I didn’t forget what I was about to begin to “know.”

What is a step that you have been resisting that you could take today to get you closer to that which you have been wanting? Where have you not allowed yourself to change your mind so that you can change your life? What non-negotiable structure could you put in place that would support your visions rather than your old worn-out habits? What old ideas that you “know” very well would you like to replace today? And what new ideas would you like to put in their places instead?

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