Mental Bad Habits

It’s easy to understand that bad eating habits will eventually take a toll on our health. We totally understand that our bad financial habits will ruin us, or get us into deep debts. And we can predict that in the long run, a friend’s bad drinking habit will catch him up.

Those are all “visible” bad habits.

What about mental bad habits? They’re invisible, and so they’re often insidious.

Researchers have found that envying your friends on Facebook actually leads to depression.

Complaining about your boss, or looking at your friend’s life and thinking “why do they have all the luck?” may seem trivial, but it’s not. It’s eating away your mental strength.

I’ve been thinking about which bad mental habits are holding me back from the life that I truly want. Armed with my list, I can now select the one that’s been doing the most damage. Because I have identified my bad mental habits, I recognize them when they show up.

Again, my goal is not to eradicate the thoughts that create the bad mental habits, but to see them for what they are so that I’m not letting them take over my life. I can then take actions toward what really makes my life worth it.

Why I Stopped Taking my Thoughts so Seriously

I’m practicing to stop taking my thoughts seriously. Why? Because they’re just stories created by my mind. That same kind of mind that was trying to keep my ancestor, the hunter-gatherer, alive. It made perfect sense to the mind of the hunter-gatherer to create stories in the lines of “don’t go in that cave, there might be a bear sleeping, and if you wake it up, it will kill you”! The better he could anticipate dangers, the better his chances of surviving.

If I compare the real dangers my ancestor was facing versus my imaginary dangers, I can easily figure out that my dangers will probably never materialize.

The problem is that even if I know, understand and even repeat to myself this concept over and over, thoughts will still be created by my mind. It’s what the thinking mind does. It almost never shuts up.

So instead of taking every thought seriously, and let them take over me, I try to see them for what they really are: words.

Some thoughts are scary, some are fun, others are like warnings against an (imaginary) threat, and some thoughts are useful. I try not to label or judge them as good or bad, and simply try to accept that the thought exists without merging or identifying myself with it.

I understand that there’s not point in trying to think positive, fight negative thoughts, or try to control my thoughts. I also know that it’s super easy to let thoughts captivate my attention, and make me believe (stupid) things. That’s why I’ve started practicing these two things:

  • stop taking all my thoughts so seriously, but use those that are useful
  • connect with the things that give meaning to my life

The way I try not to take my thoughts seriously is by simply noticing that I’m thinking. It could go like this “I’m noticing that I’m thinking that I want to eat chocolate”. Or I give a title to the thought, like so “Ah, yes! The Incapable Girl story, I know this one!”.

New and old thoughts will always be created by the mind. The goal is not to eradicate them, or change them into positive thoughts. The goal is to see them for what they are so that I’m not letting them take over my life.


If you’re interested to go deeper into the subject, read books about the ACT therapy. The Happiness Trap is a good one to start with.

I am not Broken

I’ve had to deal with perfectionism a good deal of my life. I felt like if I wasn’t perfect, then I wasn’t whole, and I had to fix myself in some way. As long as I thought I had to be fixed, I send myself the message that I was actually broken. 

If only I could’ve been just a little bit more of this, and a lot less of that, then I would probably be fixed and perfect. I think I was addicted to trying to fix myself. Maybe that’s why I read all those books about personal development, or why I tried all those weird diets – vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan – trying to heal my body from all the discomforts the feelings of being broken gave me.

I believed that if I could heal and fix myself, I would be perfect and complete. I was missing the truth that I am good enough, as I am, right now. A hard revelation. Acceptance is one of the hardest things to do for me. Not only do I have to accept, but I have to accept that I am enough, that there’s no need to be perfect, simply because perfection doesn’t exist.

Letting go of the idea that I must fix myself in some way to meet some standards made up by our society and my imagination is liberating. I can understand myself when I accept everything about me. I can get curious about the reasons behind my actions, and I can change for the right reasons, not to be some ideal of what I think people want me to be.

I am not broken. I am enough. I am whole.

You are not broken. You are enough. You are whole.

 

Unlearn Who I am and Become a New me

Somehow, I reached a point where I felt like I’ve stopped learning. What I mean by stop learning is that I could predict the feeling of the experiences in my life. There wasn’t any room for anything new to occur because I was seeing my life from my past experiences instead of the future. It was a dark time for me where even the things I most enjoyed doing were not bringing me joy. I knew that nothing external could take away those feelings from my past and honestly, I felt like falling into oblivion. What was the point of this life? 

Somehow, through my readings, browsing of YouTube videos, and meeting with wise people, I kept bumping into the same notion. I had to unlearn who I was. Just pause here. What?

My routine, my known thoughts, and my feelings are creating the same states, from where I create the same behaviours, and so I perpetuate the same reality. If I want to change some aspects of my life, I need to think, feel, and act in different ways. Obvious, and easier said than done.

What comes out of my search to understand why it’s so hard to change, why there seem to be some dark forces at play here, I found that chemicals and hormones in the body and the brain are to blame. To put it simply, since I’ve been repeating the same pattern of feelings for so long, I have become, through my core personality, those feelings. There’s a principle in neuroscience called Hebb’s law that says “nerve cells that fire together, wire together”. My neurons have fired together in the same ways for so long that they’re organized in a pattern that sort of created my personality. It’s fascinating.

So how does one unlearn who they are to become someone new? That’s what I’m planning to learn this week! It has to do with a form of meditation. If you want to know how to unlearn to be you before my next post, you can read the book Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr Joe Dispenza. Haven’t been that excited in months! Enjoy the book if you read it 🙂

One Thing at a Time

My life is a manifestation of where I direct my energy. Energy is what I use all day to do everything: prepare a meal and eat it, talk with friends, work, do the house chores, write this blog post, etc. If I want to create or manifest happiness in my life, but I’m always using my mind to complain, then my energy is directed at complaining, not towards creating happiness.

It could be worse. I might be in the habit of complaining, which means I would go there automatically, I would have become a champion, an elite at complaining. Without realizing it, I would direct my energy at complaining, thus getting even more things to complain about in my life. 

It could be even worse! I might be in the habit of moving my awareness all around in my mind all day long. I would have practiced moving my energy all over the place and become so good at it that I’d think I’d have some sort of deficit disorder. 

Fortunately for me, I’ve discovered that I can concentrate my awareness toward one thing at a time. It’s far from being perfect, but I know that when I’m feeling tired, and it’s not even close to bedtime, it’s because my mind acted like a squirrel for a long period of time, thus I’ve been wasting my energy. 

I want my life to be a manifestation of joy, love, happiness, and compassion, therefore, I concentrate my awareness toward one of these feelings, one at a time. I close my eyes, take a deep breath in and release it slowly, and then, I think of something that I am joyful about. If nothing comes up, I think of something that brought me joy in the past, or something that could possibly bring me joy in the future. What’s important to me is not the thought per say, but the feeling. 

When I feel joy, my energy replenishes. The more I practice feeling the joy, the more joyful I get in my life, and the more joy happens in my life. It manifests itself through all sorts of things, events, people, and often without any reason at all (that’s a little weird, but I’m okay with it). 

Break the Rules of Society

Every day, we have to decide if we’re going to follow or break the rules society puts up for us. When we decide to follow the rules, it kind of limits our opportunity to grow. Society’s rules are often lame. Just think as an example about the health rules put out by bogus scientists paid by XYZ industries or worse, the government’s health rules. Huge industries have the massive marketing power to fool you into thinking that eating their products full of sugar and chemicals is healthy for you. You know I’m not making this up, and it’s the same lies that are perpetuated for so many other areas of lives.

Whether it be my health, money, relationship, or career, I do my own research and experimentation. There are risks involved with that because I have to treat myself as a guinea pig, but I found it’s the only way to get the results I’m after. The growth I experience from choosing my own path is amazing. Settling in for average is so boring, and by following society’s rules, that’s where I would fall.

I like to stop and think about the rules I’ve inherited from my parents, my friends, my teachers, and the collective on the internet. I question whether these rules feel purposeful, fulfilling, and meaningful to me. If not, why follow that rule?  

Fear has been a big obstacle for me to overcome. And really, when I think about fear, it always comes down to something I imagine, something my Ego is afraid of. The only way I found to get out of this kind of fear is to observe it, challenge it, and release it. 

P.S.: I’m not encouraging anyone to break the LAW. I’m talking about conventional wisdom and rules that won’t lead anyone to jail if they break them. 

Developing Willpower

Some say willpower is finite, others say that non-sense. I know from my own experience that my own willpower is definitely finite. My morning choices are always way ahead of my evening choices, when I’m a little more tired and exhausted my willpower.

In a quest to have more of this finite resource, I turned to Dandapani, a Hindu priest who explains the things of the mind in an easy to digest form. He believes that willpower is a finite resource too.

In order to have more willpower, I must implement the tool to practice my willpower into my life instead of making time to create a new practice.

There’s three ways to develop willpower.

  1. Finish what I start
  2. Finish beyond the expectation
  3. Do a little bit more then I think I’m able to do

They all require some effort, and that is willpower. Here’s an example of how I use this tool in my life. Every day I eat. I have the time to make myself food, to eat that food, and so I have the time to do the dishes and put it away. I’ve finished what I started beyond the expectations and did a little more then I usually do because I’ve dried and put away the dishes, I didn’t just let it dry on the counter top.

That’s why I also make my bed every morning; I finish the process of sleep by making my bed and doing it so that there’s no wrinkles in the sheets.

It may sound trivial, but since I’ve incorporated this kind of awareness about willpower into my life, I find it’s easier to do the things that were gruelling in the past.

Top Five Life Regrets

We can learn so much from people who are about to pass away. They’ve lived their lives according to certain standards, and now that they’re leaving us, they have experiences they can share. If only we would listen to them.

In here book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, Bonnie Ware addresses those things that most people do their entire lives, but end up regretting. We can learn from those mistakes, those regrets, and take steps to make sure our own lives are amazing.

#1- I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life that others expected me to live. 

This is the most common regrets of the dying. They look back and see how many dreams they’ve let down to live a life that other people told them they should live. What dreams are you letting die now?

#2- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

Work to live, don’t live to work. In a sense, the second regret is about missing time with the people you love and living amazing experiences at the expense of work. It’s also doing work we feel isn’t meaningful. In this age and time, there are no reasons work at jobs we hate, except the limits we impose on ourselves. 

#3- I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.

We keep our feelings to ourselves so that we keep peace with others. We’re afraid of the other person’s reaction, we fear they’re not going to respect or love us anymore if we speak our true feelings. So we keep everything inside and create turmoil inside us. A truthful and transparent conversation infused with love and compassion will almost always bring the people closer together. Everyone deserves honesty.

#4- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends and family.

We live in an amazing world where we can contact the people we love even if they’re on the other side of the planet. Taking 5 minutes and reaching out to someone we haven’t talked to in a long time is easy. By setting our intention to tell them we love, appreciate, and care about them, our 5 minute conversation might just make their day (and our own)!

#5- I wish that I’d let myself be happier.

We often don’t realize it, but happiness is a choice. Unfortunately, we often stay in old patterns, our old comfort zone (even if it’s not that comfy), but this actually sacrifices our happiness. We can choose happiness. We decide how we interpret the events of our lives.

Which one of these regrets speaks to you the most? For me, it’s #3. Love you!

Healthy Self-Esteem

A healthy self-esteem starts with self-acceptance. It makes us feel good about ourselves independent of our faults, mistakes, and flaws. We’re less inclined to judge ourselves, and we can more easily embrace who we really are.

Self-acceptance is like unconditional love toward ourselves. This unconditional love doesn’t require that we perform and achieve to build our self-worth. We’re free from the constant pressure to “fix” ourselves, and this lets us humbly affirm our qualities and attributes. We accept all of who we are, strengths and weaknesses.

Self-acceptance liberates us from future oriented thoughts like “I’ll be happy when…”. It allows us to be satisfied with who we are now because our self-worth isn’t based on conditions.

This doesn’t mean we deny our faults and mistakes, or lose our motivation to grow and become a better version of ourselves. We’re simply accepting and loving the beautiful human being we are in the present moment independently of our flaws, weaknesses, success, or achievements.

We don’t have to wait to make a change to love ourselves, we’re already lovable as we are. What needs to change is how we view ourselves.

This change, like any other change, doesn’t happen overnight by snapping our fingers. It needs to become a part of our daily practice. Paying attention to what we say to and about ourselves in our mind and changing the words we use to describe ourselves is a good way to start our practice of self-acceptance.

 

Stop Wasting Time Complaining

This human experience is not eternal and will soon be gone. The life expectancy is approximately 72.5 years. So my friend, there is no time. There is no time to complain, to be angry, there is no time to be anxious. There is no time NOT to make today the most beautiful and amazing day we can make it. 

Because I make my day, I decide to be happy. I choose peace. I choose joy. I choose love. And the way I do this is by changing my language, whether it be the words that go through my thoughts, the written word I use, or when I talk to people. I remove all the negative words from my vocabulary. I chose to say “Well, I’ve had better days… Haha!” instead of “Today is a shitty day, everything sucks!”. If someone else complains, I repeat what she/he just said and turn it into a positive!!! 

I am here to create a life of love, peace, and freedom. I don’t have the time to be angry, frustrated, or anxious. Nothing in this world is worth loosing my peace, my joy, and my happiness over.