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Shifting Habits To Work With Will, Not Against It

Friday, February 17, 2017 0:09
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I read the first couple of days’ worth of comments in the Archdruid’s posts, and I find some gems that way. This one caught my attention today:

The practical dimension of your question, though, can be answered easily enough by reference to the relative fragility of the different grades of will: the higher the grade, the more fragile the effect. Thus if your act of will is only at the level of the intellect, it’s probably not going to do much — and which of us haven’t experienced purely intellectual resolutions being brushed aside by the force of habit or passion! Get it down to the level of representation and it becomes less easy to dislodge; get it all the way down to the unthinking levels of the self, by way of establishing habits and the like, and it becomes all but immovable.”

I’ve always battled myself when it comes to acts of willpower. Haven’t we all? When my divorce hit, and I was emotionally so overwhelmed that I couldn’t function, but HAD to, I had a special problem that required a solution or I was sunk.

I had to find ways to make myself get things done that the rest of me was almost directly sabotaging! I had several methods that I had either used before (trying to reach a goal when my health kept failing took many attempts and plenty of failures) or invented along the way.

There were my ever-present hurt children inside my being who felt abandoned and scared by my ex rejecting ‘us’. I started to bribe them with regular treats of candy. Whenever I did something hard, I got a bag of sweets.

I kept a calendar of all goals and deadlines, and I made rough schedules. I was really tormenting myself over my fears, so whenever I made a few steps towards a goal, I’d congratulate myself with prideful talk and promise myself a little break (another type of bribe!) with a movie or even just staring out windows. Whatever it took.

Mostly, though, I created a daily routine to help me fill time with unthinking habits that lent themselves towards working on goals, whether it was making phone calls or working on paperwork, there was a space in the day for that and for everything else. As the days wore on, it got easier to keep pushing forward, even when the rest of life and myself were dragging me back.

Ultimately, I amazed myself with what I found I was able to do! I still look back and am grateful that some parts of me joined forces to make sure I made I through. Oh, I fell apart semi-regularly, and for a while there, I was contemplating alcoholism as my next hobby, but in the end I managed to come out intact and okay.

Now the trick is to adjust my new life to new habits that are productive. So far, I’m not doing too badly, and have transferred many of the skills I relied upon during the divorce to my current situation. Things are steadily changing for the better for both myself and my roomies. I feel really good about that!


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