Over the past 8 years I have given up a few habits that haven't served me well; partying to excess, eating meat, wheat bread, cows milk, coffee and more recently eating chocolate every day. I have learnt from the experience that simply not wanting to do it any more isn't always enough. When what you are doing causes you any form of enjoyment then denying yourself of what you perceive as feeling good, even if it's just for a few moments, can lead you to want to do it more.
There needs to be a bigger purpose, something you want more, something that inspires you and is for your highest good. In my case I am inspired by being at my optimum health, after a childhood of always being ill I didn't want to be that sickly child any more, and having mental clarity to be able to approach life with a positive and loving attitude. I also wanted balanced energy levels, as I was so up and down before, I was sick of that afternoon crash feeling when all I wanted to do was sleep. I learnt that feeling tired led to my emotions being out of balance too. The motivation behind taking care of my health, emotions, mental state and energy was not only for me but also for my business, so I could be fit and healthy to help and inspire others too. This is my passion. I felt I couldn't really be an authentic life coach and yoga teacher if I wasn't taking care of myself first.
Once I had the inspiration in place then I looked for things to replace the old habits with, things that would cause me just as much pleasure and more. Alternatives that were actually good for me rather than being temporary lifts or escapism that ended in some kind of crash afterwards. For example:
- A big part of going out for me was that I love to dance, I now go to ecstatic dance sessions (which do not serve alcohol) or simply go out with the intention to dance and not to drink.
- I make sure the food I cook is really tasty so that I don't miss meat.
- I have found a lovely Rye bread (The Village Bakery - they sell in Waitrose) that for me is just as enjoyable as wheat bread, in fact I prefer it now.
- I have adapted my taste buds to almond milk now, this did take a while but now I can't imagine having cows milk with cereal. The pleasure I gain from this is the fact I am not so congested any more.
- I have found some herbal teas that I really enjoy drinking, and every now and then I have a decaffeinated coffee. The sleepless nights, up and down emotions, busy mind and heightened stress levels I experience from coffee were worth giving up!
Our brain does not hear the negative, if I tell you now not to think of a red dress - what springs to mind? When you tell yourself "I am not going to X" you mind hears "I am going to X". Rather tell yourself what you are going to do instead.
A daily afternoon sugary sweet treat as been the hardest thing I have found to give up because it's tied into emotions for me as well, I see it as a treat. So I have found it important to look for other more healthy things that I experience as a treat too, I do enjoy savoury snacks as well like hummus and rice cakes, taking time out to go sit on the beach front when the sun is shining and coconut balls are amazing as they taste just like chocolate truffles but there is no refined sugar, the sweetness comes from the coconut and dates . Liquorice or cinnamon tea also taste sweet but with out the sugar. I do love to go out for tea and cake with friends though, and I still will, it just won't be an every day occurrence!
My experience with sugar and caffeine is that it is actually an addiction. The headaches experienced when I stopped every day coffee were unbelievable and lasted for 2 weeks solid. My body actually craved the sugar and my mind was very cleverly trying to convince me that some things would be ok, like ice cream?!! With things like this will power is key, and that is where your inspirational higher purpose kicks in. It is said it takes 3 weeks to form a new thought pattern and create a new habit, so flexing your willpower muscles for those few weeks is prime and doing healthy things that feel good for you to nurture yourself in the meantime.
Falling in love with yoga was a big turning point for me, to be able to still my mind, be present, take care of my body and learn from the practice I needed to give up mental stimulants and foods that make me feel heavy. The love of how yoga makes me feel outshines the need for the other stuff. Yoga might not be the thing for you but there will be something out there that is, something that will inspire you enough to give up the stuff that holds you back from really enjoying it.
Focus on the good, what you are inspired by, what really motivates you and one day you will realise that the light has outshone the darkness. It's not easy giving up something but when you do, you have strengthened that will power muscle and in turn the belief in yourself that you can do anything you put your mind too.
If I can help you in any way on your journey please let me know; firstname.lastname@example.org