I have a friend who recently went through a full year of unemployment. Considering her life-long fear had always been financial ruin, to say it was an emotionally challenging year for her is an understatement. It was terrifying. And it had her working every self-help angle she could think of to not fall into the abyss of despair. She tried gratitude, meditation, Yoga, hiking, inspirational books, practical business guides, slashing her expenses and praying for guidance. While all of it brought moments of peace, none of it was lasting. And none of it helped her find a job.
This friend also has a big attachment to chocolate. When I say attachment, I mean she’s a barnacle on the side of a Hershey’s Dark Chocolate bar. And she feels as much angst about her chocolate addiction as anyone with weight problems despairs about their eating habits. But she doesn’t have a weight issue, so there are no visible signs of her habit. And because of this, it is hard for her to give it up. Yet she knows it messes with her mind and aggravates her stress levels. But when she was going through this difficult time, chocolate became her big consolation. She had more of it than ever, which was getting in the way of her finding the emotional balance she was craving.
Emotional coping habits are our automatic responses to stress. Whether it is chocolate, cigarettes, alcohol or food, most of us have some substance that we use in order to manage the immediate stressors of our day. Yet these coping skills rarely help. And more often than not, they make things worse. Not just because they are bad for your overall health, but they also amplify perceived stress with the guilt that so often comes with indulging bad habits. In a more immediate sense, they wreck your brain chemistry, making the equanimity you crave more elusive than ever. This in turn, makes it hard to get traction going in any positive direction, feeding into your addiction and fragile mindset. Vicious circle.
Knowing this, I offered up a challenge to my friend: Give up the chocolate as an offering to the employment gods to show how serious you are. I reminded her that she has tried everything else so why not this? What did she have to lose? I knew if nothing else, getting rid of the chocolate would allow her to feel more balanced and perhaps see her situation for what it actually was: temporary.
I could feel the daggers through the phone, but she agreed to try. I told her to do, not try. She tossed me an F-bomb but agreed. The next day she stocked up on fruit and all the healthy alternatives she could think of and quit the junk.
While initially she suffered similar withdrawal symptoms as someone coming off coffee, within the week she was fine and feeling less emotional which fed her confidence and allowed her to be more aggressive in her search. By the third week she was awaiting word on several opportunities and by the end of the month she had not one but two jobs, each providing enough to add up to a full paycheck. Plus, the fact that it was two jobs rather than one, allowed her to not feel trapped in one place or one dynamic which appealed to her Bohemian spirit. Everything fell into place and worked out for the very best.
Giving up a crutch is one of the most powerful things you can do to change a negative dynamic in your life. When things are not going your way, your efforts at making things happen can seem futile. If you then eat or drink in an effort to console yourself, and if those substances take you away from your center and essential spirit, that futility can feel overwhelming.
Self-empowerment comes from taking action. When faced with problems, most of us revert to old habits while our minds spin in endless ruminations, trying to think it’s way out of a problem. But the only way to change a dynamic in your life is through action, not ruminations. And starting with an action that you are in complete control of, like giving up chocolate, or for you, perhaps it is ice cream, is one of the best ways to start. As you gain confidence and courage by adhering to one simple habit change, that confidence radiates outward and creates subtle shifts in the way you operate and engage with the world. From there, opportunity flows…
If your life is feeling a little lackluster and there are changes you would wish to see, I challenge you to take an inventory of the habit or habits that may be keeping you from your greatest self. And then make the decision to change one habit. Whether it is exercising more, drinking more water, or giving up chocolate, that one shift, if done consistently and systematically, can change your life! Give it a try and see how it goes.
So… I want to know… Do YOU have a habit that emotionally cuts you down and gets in the way of your best self? Or do you have a strong desire to create something new in your life but can’t seem to get traction on it? I want to hear about it in the comments below! And then I want to hear about the one habit you will change as an offering to help you manifest the life that you want.
Have a wonderful Monday and remember, small shifts in the way you operate and nourish yourself, goes a long way towards greater vibrancy and happiness~