Intention Not Habit

Human beings are conditioned, moulded to our own particular design keeping us trapped in repetitive behaviours. It’s easier to live by habit than intention, but when you do, you are ensuring that your life remains the same – fine if it’s all positive, but not so good if you’re unhappy.

I read this quote on Twitter a couple of days ago: “Live less out of habit and more out of focused intention” – Herman Siu. And it struck me that this is really so important, it amounts to an acutely mindful approach to living and when adhered to, this mantra allows us to continually grow and develop.

Mallorca sea

Drinking too much and suffering all of the associated self-loathing and regrets was only one element of my life that was an outcome of habit as opposed to intention. My intentions were always, don’t drink too much; drink water in between alcoholic drinks; leave whatever social event you are at early; don’t text old boyfriends late at night when you are feeling maudlin and pissed…and so on. But I operated out of habit and so perpetually broke all of my own rules.

I occasionally catch myself now leaning towards old habits. Not booze-related but behaviours that I don’t like and no longer wish to demonstrate. They’re like kneejerk reactions to situations; I slide into them before I even know where I’m headed. Sometimes I don’t think things through fully before I act, I have this impetuous nature that I consistently need to reign in. I have a tendency to the negative, which I hate. I have to really talk to myself quite sternly and switch things around so I expect good things to happen instead of the worst-case scenario (I think this is a hangover from my drinking days when bad things did happen all the time because I was always doing stupid things drunk). I can be slightly anti-social and talk myself into spending too much time alone, which never has a good effect on me but somehow I convince myself it’s OK.

To do the opposite of all of these things requires Herculean strength on some days – massive mind-over-matter brain games, strict talking-tos inside my head, unnatural actions that are completely opposed to my automated responses. It all feels very weird and difficult. But, when you act out of intention rather than habit, you can chip away at ingrained behaviours and start to carve out new ones. And that’s how your life changes – wholesale.

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5 thoughts on “Intention Not Habit

  1. paula michel says:

    The Most important lesson I’m learning in sobriety is practising habit changing behaviour and it can be really hard, but it makes such a difference to how I feel and approach life. I also tend towards the negatives in life and can easily get comfortable spending time alone. It’s nice to do this, but I have to work hard on engaging with others who fill me with positivity and keep me well balanced. It’s a life learning lesson, not something that happens overnight, but comes more easily with constant practice. Thanks for sharing because I really relate to this.

  2. This reminds me of a quote I just read… addiction is when you align tour values to match your behaviors. Recovery is ehen you align your behaviors to match your values. Thanks for sharing because living with intent seems to be a struggle for those of us living w addiction.

  3. I recently learned this as well. I am conditioned to open the bottle of wine when I start dinner, have more when I eat, have an after dinner drink or two, or three, and the habit continues…day after day. Habits are hard to break, sometimes really hard as you expain. “No excuses, get it done”. That’s my mantra these days. Thanks so much for your inspiration, it really helps!

    • Irishdaughter says:

      I can so relate. The habit of coming home and having a glass of wine, then another and another, etc. Changing my daily habits is hard; but it is key to freedom. I nee to redo my evening routine. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. p.parsons777@btinternet.com says:

    I understand exactly what you are saying I used to be the same before I went out on A social occasion I would always have to have a few drinks then order a taxi arrive at the event and consume more alcohol until it was over then on retuning home would have a couple of nightcaps,the next day i would worry if I had over done it.My life without the booze has not changed but what has is me I drive to the event enjoy talking and meeting old friends and people I have never met before and depart before those that intended to get drunk then did ,it helps me to know I am not the only one that had trouble with the demon booze and that their intentions like mine to enjoy life without the intentional self-destruct path the demon drink takes you on .Good luck to all on their journey

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