December 15 - What Do You Do When You Think You Want What You Know You Really Don't Want?

The nature of addiction is that it tells us we want what we know we don’t want (you may have to read this first sentence several times before understanding it…please persevere…as it is very important if you want to create new satisfying habits!!). Even in the face of huge masses of evidence that a particular substance or behavior is harming our quality of life, we continue to dream about it, plan for it, and often succumb to temptation. And if we just keep trying to “not” do it, we usually are sentenced to repeat it. So what can we do when we are faced with the call of the craving?

What do you do when you want to build a house or take a trip? If you want it to look like the vision in your head, or you want your plane tickets to take you to your desired location, you will make sure that you tell the person in charge what you want, not only what you don’t want! How many of you have ever gone into a travel agency and asked only for a ticket to “Not Florida ”? Where would you end up? How would you pack? Would you head toward the north, south, east, or west?

If you told your contractor to start building a house but the only instructions you gave to him were to make certain that it did not have a blue bathroom or a red kitchen, you would not have any idea what the house would look like when it was completed. It could be tiny…or huge…or contemporary…or traditional…or…?

Just as we need a plan for taking a trip or building a house, it is important that when the cravings of addiction appear that you have a specific idea of what you want to do as well as the knowledge of what you do not want to do. When my body decides that it wants a vat of chocolate, for example, if I just try to not eat any chocolate, I will be wolfing it down before the evening is over! But if I have a plan that when I want sugar I am going to take a catnap instead, I will not only avoid the sugar, but I will probably be truly refreshed and satisfied as a result. I have replaced an artificial means of replenishing my energy with a genuine way to satisfy that true need.

My suggestion is that you start with a plan, a set of blueprints so to speak. How do you want to live your life? Be as specific as possible. For example, if your desire is to give up cigarettes, begin with what you want to do with your time instead. In other words, how do you want to spend the time you used to spend smoking? Perhaps you would like to exercise more frequently or spend the time lounging in the fresh air. Do you want to create beautiful music? Read good books? Take a leisurely bath? Connect with a good friend either by email or telephone?

Decide what your ideal life would look like and prepare to have it. If you decide you want to knit Afghans, get the wool and knitting needles ready. If you want to write letters of acknowledgement to your loved ones, buy beautiful stationery and a fountain pen. Then the next time your habit tells you that you want to do what you know you do not want to do, jump into your plan of action of what you want to do instead. Pick up that pen, knitting needle, or your particular favorite! Do what you want to do, and then delight in your personal victory over addiction!

What habit do you want to eliminate from your life? What do you want your life to look like without this habit in it? What does your dream life look like? What is one first step you can take towards that vision? What are some other steps you could be ready to take as well in case your old habit beckons? What can you do that you want to do when something you don’t want to do seems tempting?

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