Breaking the Chains of Habits

Breaking the Chains of HabitsHuman consciousness is perhaps one of the greatest evolutionary achievements. But, as you will soon see, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Humans also have the ability to operate on automatic pilot, performing complex behaviors without any conscious thought at all. Tasks that seem initially complex can become second nature after we perform those actions many times. This ties into the old axiom “practice makes perfect”. The trick is not becoming a mindless slave to our habits.

The Dark Side of Habits

There is a dark side to habits, namely that we acquire bad ones. Think smoking or overeating. One way behavior can become habitual is through repetition. If we acquire a bad habit this way, it becomes very hard to change. However, bad habits can be overcome by learning new routines and practicing them over and over again.

The Formation of Compulsions & Addictions

Compulsions and addictions are behaviors that involve dependence on either a chemical substance (think alcohol) or codependence on a particular person, place, or thing (think gambling). They are behaviors that have become so rewarding, they’re nearly impossible to resist. As many wrecked individuals and families can attest, these habits are the hardest to change. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet. Sometimes intensive treatments and social support can help.

Learned Social Habits

Other behaviors are habitual because they obey social norms. These are habits that we rarely question or think twice about. We shake hands when we greet people, wear socks of the same color, and eat with a fork because these are the customs we have learned from a very young age. These are behaviors we could easily shift should the laws or customs that governed them changed.

The Habit of Egoic Perception

There is another type of habitual behavior that involves more cognitive activity, the interpretation of any given situation. Most people, through the filter of ego, analyze a situation according to what it means for them – how it fits into the narrative of their life and how they define themself as an individual. These behaviors are habitual in the sense that people have chronic ways of interpreting the world. This is why many people viewing the same film, for example, can each get something different out of it. Every interpretation could be unique based on how the individual egos filter the content.

Be Mindful of Your Habits

Habitual behaviors come in many different forms. Trying to define them within one framework misses nuances of how to change behavior effectively. In recent years, social psychologists have developed many effective interventions to help people improve their lives by breaking bad habits. Again, the trick is not becoming a mindless slave to our habits. By remaining conscious of our thoughts and actions, we can indeed shift the patterns of our lives into healthier paradigms.

Have you become a slave to your habits? How have you tried to break yourself free of bad habits or behaviors? Share your thoughts below!

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About Scott Matthews
The founder of Egoic Living shares more than 15 years of research about the human condition. A student of consciousness and metaphysics, he strives to bridge the gap between ego and being. Learn more.

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