It’s been quite a while since my last blog post here at Apotheosis, and I figured it was time for a status update of a sort.
I’m busy putting the final touches on the first chapter of my first book, Rescuing Your Future: A Manual For Those Who Feel Left Behind. The chapter will deal with the science and practical application of habit change and habit formation, and me and my co-author Yobani Rodriguez will release the chapter for free to those on the email list.
But in the process of writing, as I applied some of the techniques I’ve learned to my own routine, I discovered a weird quirk of mine that I hadn’t realized before.
First, a little back story: I’m a skinny guy, probably weighing in to just shy of 150 pounds and just a bit shorter than 6 feet tall.
But I can eat! My friends are always blown away by the amount of food I can put away.
That being said, I decided that I would tackle a rather bad habit of mine: eating snacks late at night. Now, I know the best way to do this, for my psychological makeup, is to focus on replacing the often heavy, sometimes unhealthy snacks with something fairly harmless–like apples.
So, for the last three weeks, I’ve been eating only apples late at night–at least on work nights, which is when I seem to be triggered in the first place.
So, I was doing well…
…until I walked over to get an apple a few nights ago and thought, “but I don’t really want an apple! I’m doing good, I deserve a treat!”
I immediately caught myself doing that, and my heart sank. “I failed. I’m tempted, and I wanted to go along with the temptation. I guess I just failed at this habit.”
I immediately stopped myself. This is crazy. Why do I turn habit challenges into all or nothing affairs? I was just about ready to throw in the towel for a second there, all bc I had a temptation.
Then I thought about it. This is a pattern of mine that I hadn’t noticed. I’m so concerned with making an absolutely total change in behavior that I make even a small mental lapse into a complete failure!
It makes no sense.
And in the past, this is precisely the point where I would often have folded, admitted defeat, and indulged in the negative behavior.
The truth is, as you push on towards a habit, you will face what psychologists call “inflection points”: challenges to your desired habit.
You can expect these to occur! In fact, some researchers think that your brain won’t encode the habit fully until you’ve successfully overcome something like up to eight inflection points.
When you face a hurdle, fight your instinct to give in. Even if you do give in, it’s important not to be hard on yourself–the resulting blow to your self esteem makes you more likely to pick the bad habit up again. I’m not addicted to nicotine, but I bet smokers and drinkers know exactly what I’m talking about.
When I realized my pattern, I was able to force myself to push through, and eat the apple. Being aware of your patterns isn’t a magic bullet, but it’s a big tool in your belt.
And you can take refuge in the knowledge that fighting through the inflection point successfully puts you that closer to victory.
Whatever your challenges are, being aware of your mental patterns is essential. It gives you the hindsight to stop the pattern in its tracks, rather than to be swept away by its inertia.
Thanks for reading, and namaste!