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Habit Forming: Prepare Your Mind For Change!

Published in VICES: the magazine for addictions and habits
A Magazine which looks at the Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual Continuum of Addictions

 

What if you knew in the next twenty-one days you could experience a brand new beginning in life? If you could start over again and finally leave behind your past pain, heartache and hurtful memories after only three weeks, what would you be willing to do to see it happen? It’s a well-known fact that in twenty-one days you can form a new habit pattern, develop fresh routines, and create different comfort zones for yourself. For example, it takes approximately three weeks to feel at ease in a new relationship, be relaxed in a different job position, or feel comfortable when you move into a new house. If you purchase a different car, it’s about twenty-one days before you’ve adjusted to all the gadgets and remember which side of the gas pump to pull up to when you’re purchasing fuel. It’s the same when you’ve switched storage drawers but keep returning to the one where you once kept the cutlery or your underwear (hopefully not in the same drawer!). I’ve often thought this is why a 3-week vacation could be dangerous. In that short time, you will have created an entirely new lifestyle for yourself making it extremely difficult to go back to the original one!

Chances are if you believed the damaging effects of your past could be altered so suddenly, you’d be receptive to making some significant changes and trying some new concepts. That’s exactly how I felt a number of years ago when someone suggested to me that there was a way out of the despair, disappointment and heartache I was experiencing after escaping an 11-year marriage with severe physical abuse, and that I didn’t have to spend the rest of my life in therapy searching for an answer. It gave me hope to think that I could move from a past that was harming my present into a future filled with marvellous potential and magnificent possibilities, and the best part was that it could happen naturally and quickly.

After experiencing a past filled with devastating and disturbing events that left me overwhelmed and feeling like a failure, I was baffled and confused, with nowhere to turn. What I want to share with you are a few of the steps that took my life from tragic to magic. I know they can do the same for you and I believe this could mark a major turning point in your life.

Twenty-one days is not a long time to invest in your future when you consider how long you may have been struggling until now to rise above the hurdles of your past. Contrary to what many popular books, programs, TV shows and workshops will tell you about dealing with a damaging or disturbing past, it’s not essential to continue examining, scrutinizing and belabouring the details of what’s over and done. You’ve probably already tried that and it hasn’t worked so far. It’s possible to start over, and move from an imperfect past to a future that is brighter and more promising than you’ve ever imagined without investing in a lifetime of intense therapy or exhaustive self-analysis. While it’s good to look back long enough to understand why you feel the way you do, you’ll experience hope and healing when you choose to leave the past behind and start looking ahead toward a brighter future. Over the years, well-meaning psychologists, therapists and counsellors of every level have sincerely attempted to help us “get past our past” by reliving it, re-telling it, or dissecting all the dreadful particulars. Yet it’s possible to become a brand new person by pushing forward not backward, and breaking through that cocoon that has held you captive far too long.

I know this is true because it’s happened to me! My life has gone from tragic to triumphant, from devastating to victorious, without years of struggling and striving in heart-rending sessions, probing into what’s gone on in the past. On the other hand, I do believe that analyzing our inner self and examining the various ordeals of a hurtful past can be valuable learning tools when done constructively and in the right setting. While you may see professional therapy as a beneficial ingredient in your personal renewal, there are additional steps and optional principles that are compatible with appropriate counselling, whether or not you opt to choose that route. The truths I want to present to you literally have the power to take you from defeat to victory once you apply them and adapt them to your own situation.

 

 
 

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