Changing your habits

This is a problem which is of common occurrence at any age.

Imagine a vast field of grass which you have to cross daily from corner to corner on your way to work. Almost unconsciously you follow the same route every day until a well worn path is marked out. Then the time comes when your destination is changed and you have to cross the field from side to side.

In order to make a new path you have to force your way knee deep through the long grass. At first it is a little difficult and your rate of progress is slowed down, for instead of following the path unconsciously, you have to concentrate on picking your way.

Each time you make the journey, however, the grass is beaten down and the path becomes easier to follow. In time a new path stands out clearly, while the old path is gradually being overgrown from disuse.

Changing habits Changing habits

So it is with your mind. Across our mind are a great many parts formed by habits of thought. The more one indulges in any particular thought habit, the more defined becomes its pathway. When you wish to break a habit and form a new one – a new path – it is difficult to do so and you can experience a measure of resistance in attempting it.

Habit which we wish to overcome is one that at the same time yields both satisfaction and dissatisfaction, but the satisfaction will be stronger.

For example, an adolescent with a tendency to put on weight was unable to curb her habit of eating sweets. She complained about being overweight and was reluctant to be seen in the swimsuit, but the satisfaction of eating sweets was stronger than the dissatisfaction of putting on weight.

This means that if we want to change a habit, we must understand the function which it fulfils. A habit always has a meaning. An understanding of the purpose it serves is a help towards changing it.

Insight into the meaning of habits such as difficulty in getting on with people can be achieved with the help of self-analysis and examining the internal conversations of one’s mind.

“I was anticipating miraculous changes in my life during the first few weeks,” said a participant of a previous course who was starting out on this training. “As I practised and reflected, however, I began to realise that complex changes in one’s mental condition, formed and developed into a highly individual pattern over many years, couldn’t possibly be reorganised in a matter of weeks.”