BREAKING A HABIT,
MAKING A HABIT – DAY 6
Today is the big day: when we finally work directly with a tricky old habit that is both unwanted and yet has helped as a coping mechanism.
Notice when you are ‘at it again’ today. Using all the skills you have learnt in Days 1 to 5 of this course, is it possible to follow these steps?
Step 1. Recognise (actually, you just did this one!)
Step 2. Name it. Drop your old patterns of aversion and self-disgust around ‘doing it again’ and instead say: “Hello [name of habit – for example, biting nails, swearing, drinking, shouting etc].” It’s going to feel weird talking to your habit. But Day 5’s ‘getting to know you post’ opened a doorway to seeing the habit as a helpful way of coping. It offered a new way of relating to the habit – as a friend, but one that is no longer needed.
Step 3: Identify the emotion. By spotting where the habit originally came from, you saw which part of you needed the habit. So now, it is time to say: “Hello [name of emotion that the habit helps you to cope with – for example, fear or anxiety]. Or name the version of you who had to adopt the habit to cope. So I say: “Hello, 13-year-old Susanna”. Bringing friendliness and warmth to this part of you will really help to switch online the part of the brain where a new habit can take root.
Step 4: Do something ‘together’. Deliberately speaking to the habit, invite them now to share something lovely with you instead. Look back to Day 4 for inspiration of things that may give you a nice moment.
Step 5: Compare and contrast. Really notice how it feels to do something lovely, rather than the feelings of self-loathing (etc) that are attached to the habit. This is the work from Days 2 and 3.
Step 6: Reflect. Notice what it’s like, in this moment, as you do something different in place of the old habit. See the world from this new perspective – the skill learnt on Day 1.
Repeat… lots of times, with as much patience as possible. Day 7 tomorrow is about the skills needed to keep beginning again.
John O’Donohue: For a new beginning
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
From ‘To Bless the Space Between Us’ (US) / Benedictus (Europe)
Ordering info: https://www.johnodonohue.com/store
Download Tick Chart PDF