Teacher and author Judith Wright calls them Soft Addictions.
Psychotherapist Terry Real labels them as misery stabilizers.
For me, these are the little soul-sucking behaviors that devour our energy and become obstacles en route to creating the life that we actually want to live. Now, make no mistake, I’m a fan of couch sitting and Web surfing and other seemingly innocent behaviors that help us lighten up and relax. But, the problem occurs when we let them take over the time we could be using to explore our passions or pursue our dreams. When we use these habits to numb our experience rather than exploring our lives or our discomfort or uncertainty, they become saboteurs.
Here is how it works: We’re drained and dissatisfied after work so we have a couple of glasses of wine each night.
Communication in our relationship seems hard so we sit and zone out together in front of the television after the kids are in bed instead of working through our communication challenges.
Or, we’re feeling bored, so we go shopping – again – instead of exploring a new interest or reaching out to a friend or drawing something else into our life that is inspiring, uplifting and meaningful.
In every case, the behavior, or bad habits we choose numb us from the emotion and keep us from looking at its root cause. So, each day that we use a habit to numb our experience, we are also staying stuck in the pattern of pain and sabotaging our success — often without even realizing it.
Difficult emotions help us stay on track
Emotions give us a hint when we’re on track in our lives, or not. When we are on purpose we often feel the energy if flow. If you’re feeling uncomfortable, there is a reason behind that too. And that is worth exploring. Don’t dip into the bad habit to ease the pain, instead spend time with the discomfort, identify its source and slowly began to replace the habits you’ve used to hide it with new things that fill you up, leave you feeling energized, and on target toward your ultimate dreams and desires.
After all, one of the keys to success is to do more of the behaviors that support your best life and less of the ones the suck your energy dry.
So, what’s going on when you feel uncomfortable and revert to a bad habit? When do you overeat, or over shop, or surf the Web instead of working out or spending time with your family or pursuing a passion?
Identify those prompts and for the next couple of days, just be open to paying attention when they show up. On Wednesday, we’ll talk about how to stop doing the behaviors that are sabotaging your greatest success by replacing them with something that fills you up and drives you forward.
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