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Dealing With Habits

Habit plays a central role in our lives, and most of us have quite a few habits that interfere with the happiness or effectiveness of our experience. I'm reminded of the doctor who warned a patient that he should, by all means, have regular habits. And the man said, "But I do, I do." And the doctor said, "You were seen in a bar this morning at 3:00." And the man replied, "Oh, but you see, that's one of my regular habits." Well, seriously, not all habits are bad or limiting. Our chief concern here is with the habits that bind or limit, habits that cause regret and self-condemnation.

The underlying cause of all bad habits can be found in the basic desires of life. We don't really understand our desires. We don't know where we're going, and we are led in confused ways. Habit, like fire, is a good servant, but a very poor master.

Worry is, largely, a habit, so is being disagreeable.and a little restraint would work wonders! Indolent daydreaming can certainly be a bad habit. Likewise, fear is a habit. On the other hand, so is faith a habit. Most people think only half as well as they are capable, because the careless use of language is a habit. Yet, so is the careful use of good language a habit. Each individual must decide for himself the level at which he is going to accept life.

It's good to take an inventory of our habits now and then, just to see if they're serving a constructive purpose. Do you often find yourself falling into ruts of thinking and doing that keep you from taking the course that you really want toward life-the way of success and happiness that you desire? You see, we unconsciously begin forming habits every time we undertake something. We're forming habits every moment of life. Our every act, if we delve deeply enough, is preceded by, and given birth to by, a thought. In time, an act, repeated, forms a habit. And, the sum of one's habits determines one's character and one's destiny. The thought is always parent to the act.

One is never born with habits. They have their origin in the nerve centers of the brain, which are given repeated impulses. Any thought, if persisted in for a sufficient length of time, will eventually reach the motor tracks of the brain and burst into irreversible action-so that we will find ourselves doing that thing again.and again.and again. Our thoughts determine our acts, therefore, the course of our lives, and the influence and impact of our lives upon others. "Good luck" and "bad luck" are simply the tendency to keep the mind tuned in to energy and vibrations of patterns of "good" or "not good." So, if a person has bad luck, he or she shouldn't feel sorry for himself or herself. He or she should realize that bad luck is simply a bad mental habit. Whenever you do a thing in a certain way, it becomes just a little easier to do the next time.and even easier the time after that, in that same way. Eventually, the time comes when the effort comes in not doing it that way-trying to keep from doing it the way you have habitually come to do it. After you've learned to drive a car, you can do so without thinking about every movement you make.you just do it automatically.

We can master and overcome habit. No habit was ever inherited. It was acquired by repetition, over an extended period of time. When we realize that the thought is parent to the act, we may wonder if we have the power to really control which thoughts enter our minds. But you might consider what Judge Thomas Troward [pioneer New Thought teacher] wrote when he says: "If our thought possesses creative power, why are we hampered by adverse conditions? The answer is that we have used our power invertedly. We have taken the starting point of our thought from external facts and, consequently, created a repetition of facts of a similar nature; and so long as we do this, we must-need go on perpetuating the old circle of limitation." A very interesting thought by Judge Troward.

So, the remedy is to reverse our method of thinking, and, instead of taking facts as the starting point, we should take the inherent nature of mental power as a starting point. In other words, you are not just a reactor; you are an originator of thought.at least, you can be, and you should be! Jesus said, "Let your light shine." [Matt. 5:16]

Anger and criticism are simply reactions. How much better it is to express creative original thought. This is a very important point, because few of us realize that we rarely think creatively. George Bernard Shaw once made the witty comment that most persons think only two or three times a year, and that he had made an international reputation by thinking two or three times a week. He was talking about creative thought, about the ability to let thoughts originate from within ourselves, rather than to simply be a reactive process in dealing with things on the outside.

Do you really want to overcome this habit that concerns you? But, you see, you will not really break a habit unless and until you really desire to be free. Without that desire, there is very little hope for you. It is true that "the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." [Matt. 26:41] But, the mistake is to believe that you are only human. From the Divine point of view, you are a Spiritual Being. You have tremendous potentialities within you, beyond that point of limitation where you've always fallen short.

You can overcome your weakness, and it is Divine Will for you to do so! The Apostle Paul says, "In all things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." [Romans 8:37] Act from your weakness and you will be weak. But you see, if you act from your strength, you will find strength far beyond anything you've ever known!

Weakness is habitual, because negative thoughts about yourself are habitual. You've formed a habit of thinking in a very self-limiting way-of entertaining a very self-limiting self-image. And, you have tended to identify yourself with this. So, there is a continuation of this consciousness, and this thought, in the habitual way in which you've thought about yourself. What we call "inherent weakness" is simply a subconscious pattern, which has become a habit. There is no such thing as an "inherently weak person." You can only have thoughts (habitual negative thoughts) that are weak, which tend to frustrate the releasement of your inherent strength. So, here's where change must take place. Not willful forcing of restraints, but the addition of faith and belief.

In a sense, it could be said, and very simply and self-evidently, that the antidote for a bad habit, is a good habit. If habits are formed by a repetition of a thought, then, by the substitution of positive for negative, we take steps toward freedom from bondage. We are, by nature, thinking creatures, and you can substitute one thought for another. So, this means that you must begin to change your thoughts about yourself, and to form the habit of thinking positively about yourself-identifying yourself as a strong character, with the ability to change and to overcome.

How do we stop thinking the wrong thoughts that create bad habits? By a "law of substitution": by putting another thought in its place. You can eliminate the bad thought by holding, in consciousness, the good one. An affirmation of Truth, for instance, is an effective "thought capsule." It is important to be still for a while and realize that you are the expression of the Infinite, right where you are, and that there is movement within you toward good, toward creativity, toward strength. Perhaps, you would like to verbalize it through an affirmation or a treatment, like this: "I am a strong, decisive, confident Child of God. I am not dependent upon this thing for security. My faith is in God within me." Say that again, "I am a strong, decisive, confident Child of God. I am not dependent upon this thing for security. My faith is in God within me," and you will come to realize that there is a Power-whether you call it "the Christ," as Paul did, or you call it "God," call it "Providence," call it "Nature," call it the "Transcendent Force," call it the "Creative Process." It really doesn't matter! It is the Power within you that can aid and guide you and pull you through any difficult times of overcoming.

Every one of us can become a person of power or a person of impotence. We have a choice! Once you have grasped the knowledge that you can overcome, then tell yourself, and often, that you can do it and that you will do it-not with some gimmick, but because there is within you an Innate Power making you strong and capable and confident. Determine to be yourself, and you can overcome alcoholism or drug addiction; you can lose weight; you can become punctual; you can stop procrastinating; you can alter the negative patterns of your life. If you really want to, you can be the kind of person that you really, inherently, were meant to be!

© Eric Butterworth

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