It sounds cliché’ I know, but indulge me for a minute. If you want to stop doing something in your life, e.g. biting your nails, eating junk food, doing drugs, what do you focus on? Not doing that thing! So your whole focus ends up targeted on the very thing you do not want to do. Ugh! Not very useful is it? Have you done this before? Was it successful? Probably not.
Granted we need to know what we want to change, but more importantly we need to focus on what we want! So, if I want to stop doing drugs, what is it that I will get from not doing the drugs? More stability, better relationships, a better job, more self-esteem, more money, better health? There are so many positives! I understand that addictions and habits are hard to break, but focusing on the right thing first is extremely helpful in jump starting the process.
I have an activity for you to try. Try it with any habit or problem you want to correct. This is by no means intended to replace treatment or therapy, but can be used in conjunction with these things to increase their effectiveness and start to retrain your brain. Think about a habit you want to change. Maybe something simpler than a drug addiction. It could be anything from not going to bed so late to not spending so much money on coffee every month.
OK, I am going to choose not going to bed so late. Next, think about why you want to not go to bed so late; the benefit or positive outcome that you will get. For me, if I go to bed earlier, I will be more energetic, I will be more rested, I may be able to get up earlier to do something I desire e.g. exercise, walk on the beach, read etc. and create more balance and peace; a calmer state of being. There are many benefits to focus on. Now, imagine a circle or space in front of you that is very inviting to you. Think of the color of it, the sounds, any textures etc. It could be a beautiful beach or a lush green forest, or anything that resembles peace and happiness for you. Now step forward into that space thinking about the positive things you will have with more rest; energy, peace, health…now step back out of the space. Notice the difference in your mind and body. Now step back into the desired space. Do this several times, noting the distinct difference. Now imagine how you can take that desired space with you wherever you go. Fold it up and put it in your pocket, gather it into a ball and store it in your heart; you decide what works best for you. You can have a friend or coach guide you through the process if you like or do it on your own. It’s helpful to have some kind of partner you can share the process with if that is comfortable for you.
The next time you are tempted to stay up really late, even though you think it would be better to go to bed earlier, take that desired space out from where you keep It, and step back into it feeling and remembering all the positives you have stored there related to you choosing to go to sleep earlier as opposed to later. Do this several times and notice how much better you feel in the circle or space you created. You will be retraining your brain to focus on the benefits and desired outcome of doing something different and be much more inclined to do it. Have fun!