To become healthier, you may need to adopt healthier habits related to eating, sleeping, exercising, etc. If you are having trouble changing a habit, it’s likely due to your emotions connected to it. To permanently, and more easily change the habit, change the emotions. Here’s how:
Our habits are a result of our emotions – how we feel. If we want to change our habits, it can be very helpful to look deeper to understand where the emotions come from. Our emotions are a result of our thoughts. To go deeper still, we see that our thoughts come from our beliefs. And, at the core of it all, our beliefs are the result of our “references” – the information we’ve been told and our experiences.
I used to have the habit of drinking milk. I would have it on my cereal for breakfast, drink a glass at lunch (often chocolate milk and call it desert), and another glass or two at supper. I would even make sure my little daughter had a glass with supper. I felt proud of this habit. I thought I was taking care of myself and my daughter. I thought and felt this way because I believed milk was good for our health. I hadn’t studied nutrition yet, but people had told me my whole life that milk was good for my bones, teeth, muscles, etc., etc., etc. These were people I trusted like teachers, doctors, parents, and the almighty television and magazine ads. I had no reason to question this belief and the resulting emotions about the importance of this decades-old habit were deeply entrenched in me.
Then I learned about whole-food, plant-based eating, which recommends limiting or eliminating meat and dairy because of their harmful health effects. This different information became a new “reference” and it challenged my previous beliefs. I was very skeptical at first and I researched it thoroughly. The result was eye-opening and more than a little upsetting. As the saying goes, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” I wondered why no one had told me before that meat and dairy were harmful and why the message that they were beneficial was still being spread? Once I got over being upset, I realized that most people are simply spreading information that they sincerely believe to be true and are just trying to be helpful. Perhaps some of the people who sell this “food” know that it’s harmful, but probably not all of them.
My research through nutrition courses, books, journals, documentaries, experiencing my own health improvements, etc., gave me new information for new “references” on which to create new beliefs. I now believe that milk is not good for me and I am now very proud that I no longer drink it. I now believe that the dairy industry causes great harm to animals which I think is wrong, and I would feel ashamed to be a part of such harm. These new, strong emotions make it very easy for me to give up the habit of drinking and eating dairy.
New references can result in some very powerful new emotions to fuel new habits. It’s a process and it can be an uncomfortable process. But it can be much less uncomfortable when we release our ego’s need to feel we are always right and release any blame towards others for what they may have told us regardless of their intentions. When it comes down to it, as Maya Angelou has said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.”
New references => new beliefs => new thoughts = > new emotions => new habits => new you!