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Yesterday I found myself taking part in an old habit. You know those kinds of habits that you know aren’t good for you but for a long time you did them? Over and over you repeated the cycle of emotions building then the bad habit just rolls on out…it’s almost inevitable. Then, with some effort you change that habit to something else…and life changes.
You continue on with your life happily in that new habit…until one day your brain throws this old habit back up to you. That’s what happened to me.
A couple of things set up an emotional trigger for this old habit so here’s the story. Yesterday I went to the local supermarket to pick up some food for our dog. You see, she had an operation recently and has been a particular eater ever since. I was preoccupied on my bike ride to the shops thinking about how I wished for our pup to have a quick recovery. Then as I was walking in, I ran into an old friend who I haven’t seen in over ten years. We talked briefly, then parted.
Alone, very quickly I felt emotions began to bubble.
I see this a lot with clients who used to be smokers and with clients who have emotional connections to food. And food is where this past habit of mine reared its head. And of course I was at the supermarket, so the old habit of buying something sweet ‘just for me’ popped up. I even walked up and down the aisles aware that the old habit was coming up but watching it play out. I caught myself thinking how I could hide a sweet purchase from my family. I caught myself thinking of ways to eat it before I got home. (pretty difficult riding a bike with bags of shopping I’d say!) I watched these thoughts and more flit around my head, bringing with them the emotions attached to them.
And then I found myself in the bakery section.
I’d like to say I didn’t buy anything sweet but, in full transparency, I did. But not perhaps for the reasons you might think.
I didn’t buy them to eat, to smother emotions, to fill temporarily the hole inside. Those biscuits sit unopened still. I bought them to prove to myself I could buy them… and not eat them. I bought them to remind myself that I have a choice. Every day and every way I choose how I behave. I bought them to say to that past habit “stay in the past”. Finally I bought them to let my emotions know that I can face and feel them without eating. That feeling uncomfortable is OK.
And as I sit here today typing, those biscuits are there, unopened and watching me type, a symbol of choices. And I feel proud.
So I would encourage you when you feel an old habit arising to let yourself feel. To let yourself step in at the right moment (you know when that is!) and to create your own symbol of how you can change. Of how your choices reflect in your body. And most of all of how you are an amazingly, wonderful person who isn’t perfect but knows and does better every day and in every way.