Wise people have told me that habits are everything. Our entire life is built on habits. We are designed as habit-forming beings. Once we learn a skill and it becomes habit it drops into our unconscious, freeing up our conscious attention to focus on something else and so on and so on until we shape our lives from the foundations of habit.
I used to have some pretty shocking habits. Over time, a fair bit of time, I’ve shifted some of them. Removing unhelpful habits can be tough, it takes persistence, it takes awareness and it takes commitment, its hard, but I find it a heck of a lot easier that building in new ones.
Part of the cleanse for me must be directed towards a shifting an undesireable long-term habit and introducing a new more beneficial one.
I am a scrupulously honest person (again something that I’ve learnt to be) and I’m grateful that it’s a trait that all my dearest friends have in common.
Awareness of the stories I tell myself is part of maintaining that honesty.
Whilst acceptance and honesty about how things really are in the present is key, I also feel its important to recognise the creative power of the things that we verbalise (internally or externally) and the power our everyday stories have over us to shape our lives – we are shaped by these habits of story.
The reality most mornings is that I’m tired…beyond tired, bone achingly exhausted from nearly 5 years of pretty severe sleep deprivation, so tired that if I allow myself to follow that line of story in my head for any longer than the briefest of moment I would find myself sunk into a heap, my entire day sabotaged by my inability to put one foot in front of the other.
The same could be true of some of the other scripts I have rehearsed well over time. Like the one I would run more when I was really skilled at ‘doing’ depressed. Over time I have realised that these things are behaviours, skills that I practice or don’t, habits of body and mind that I can, with effort have an active conscious choice over.
I’d like to say that moving out of depression happened in one transformational moment of blissful awakening. A huge paradigm shift that changed my reality and dissolved all the unhelpful associated habits. There have been moments like those. Beautiful windows of clarity, realization and enlightenment which illuminated the journey, but mostly is been a dawning. A slow and deliberate dawning where the mists have steadily cleared, and sometimes returned, through increasing awareness, focus and prioritizing of those things that really matter and make the difference.
I know the stories and the scripts well and its only present awareness that (most of the time) prevents me from being drawn back into the familiar fairytale long enough and come back to my senses and back to the world rather than be lost to the mist.
So today’s focus is on my current stories. What are the internal scripts that run the most? What do I tell myself daily that is shaping the me I shall become next week, next month, next year?
Awareness first, consciousness first. Sometimes that is all that is needed, we shall see.