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Jul 21

Habit Forming

There is very fine line between habit and addiction.  At times that line is almost indiscernible.  Whether we’re talking about substances, thoughts or behaviors anything that consistently holds our attention begins to define us.

“Habit is either the best of servants or the worst of masters” ~ Nathaniel Emmons

Both good and bad habits usually start out small and both most often appear to have little effect on who we are – at first.  In time though our habitual behaviors and especially our thinking patterns determine who we are becoming.  Even things that might have seemed beneficial at one point can become unhealthy when taken to extremes.  Eventually our obsessions start running the whole show.

As we enter recovery of any kind most of us are laser focused on eliminating an unhealthy behavior or thought process.  This is a necessary first step, we will see little progress until we admit and address where things have gone wrong.  We are removing something negative and creating an empty space.  This is of vital importance but continued healing and success demands that we fill that emptiness with something that heals.

If you believe that life abhors a vacuum you will most likely see the value in carefully considering what you will put in that new space. Replacing substance addiction with a co-dependent relationship is simply another form of addiction.  Those with eating disorders will not find healing if they go from obsessing on eating to obsessing on dieting or vice versa.  There is a middle ground where we see clearly what will serve us best.

I once heard a man at a meeting say, “I spent an enormous amount of time thinking about booze and I needed an incredible amount of alcohol to make me happy when I was drinking.  I figure that’s about exactly how much spirituality I’ll need to make me happy in sobriety.”  I was glad that he didn’t just say that’s how much of the program he would need or even how much church he would need but he went on to explain the many different everyday activities and sources he had found for experiencing his connection with his Higher Power.  He hadn’t joined a cult or dropped out of life, he had filled the void but he had also found balance.

Forming new habits doesn’t have to be overly complicated. There has been much written on the subject of creating new habits and it may be worth your time to do a little research on the process but in my opinion the key lies in feeding your spiritual and thought life.  Joy is what will capture your attention and keep you coming back to healthy behaviors.  Be open to social, physical and mental opportunities for healing.  Look for activities that really appeal to you and experiences that make you feel alive, peaceful or connected to your Higher Power.

Holistic recovery is beneficial for making healthy choices that address the body, mind and spirit in powerful and fulfilling ways.  There is no need for me to list them as this entire website is devoted to that very subject.  There are many options presented here but get creative, check out other websites, read inspirational books, take a class or just sit down with a piece of paper and write down some ideas that interest you.  The goal is simply to replace habits that have controlled us with new ones that only serve to heal.  Meditate and pray for guidance on the areas of life where you feel lacking and allow yourself to be led into the life you were meant to live… that is freedom in it’s truest form.

 

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