The Habit Game

The struggle to break a habit is a series of strategic mind games designed to prolong the habit, which is why the struggle usually fails. There are no 'programs' that mind has lost control of, no physical withdrawal that mind is not orchestrating and no battle that mind must win in order to overcome. There is just you and your next choice.

There are various myths about habits, which are designed to either perpetuate the habit while avoiding blame, or to delay the inevitable ending of the habit as long as possible. Because this habit breaking process is not really what it purports to be, it more often than not fails to produce results. The games we play with any behavior that we claim we wish to change are illusions just like any other, and the solution is the same: see the illusion for what it is and stop playing.

The mind has the ability to program activities that don't require our full conscious attention so that mind can be free to attend to more unpredictable matters. Walking, speaking and riding a bike are examples of complex behaviors that are learned and then patterned so that these patterns can run relatively unconsciously. Without this ability, such sophisticated movements would be slow and tedious as mind would have to attend consciously to each muscle contraction. This same unconscious patterning process can be applied to simple habits such as slouching in a chair,  or more indirect behaviors such as eating when we are bored or tense. Any habitual behavior, addiction or compulsion can be programmed in this way.

However, it must be understood that at no time does mind lose control over the use of these programs. You don't find yourself spontaneously walking across the room or talking without the conscious intention to do so. Control is a major priority for mind and recognize that it would be terrified at the prospect of not being in conscious control of it's own patterned programs. 

Likewise, habits never become programs that run without mind's permission. There is no unconscious programming that must be reprogrammed with compensating behavior patterns. Overeating or drinking is just as conscious as walking and talking, and if we choose to stop running these programs, they stop effortlessly. If they don't stop, it's because we haven't chosen to do so. 

As an example, lets say you formed the habit over many years of whipping yourself every morning because you believed it would lead to enlightenment. One day, you suddenly realize how foolish that idea is. In spite of the well ingrained habit, how long would it take to break that habit now that there is no longer any motivation to continue, no longer any benefit involved? It would surely stop instantly and effortlessly. The notion of unconscious programming that runs by itself is mind's way of avoiding responsibility while pretending to try to stop by slowly reprogramming that behavior. In some cases, there may be a genuine choice to stop, but the belief in the myth demands that a reprogramming process be engaged, and if that is the case, the process will likely lead to success, but it is not necessary.

This reprogramming/control process leads to a split mind process, which is also a mind game. There is just one mind, and yet it imagines it is split into one who wants to engage in the habit, and one who wants to stop it. This battle can potentially go on indefinitely because the same mind is playing both sides of the game. Again, this is done to avoid responsibility as we valiantly struggle against our imaginary foe, and it also prolongs the habitual behavior though in a somewhat more controlled way, which is seen as an additional benefit to mind.

There is a third game that can only be played if the mind is in a relatively unconscious state. This involves engaging in behaviors without seemingly being consciously aware, in which case the behaviors continue without interference, but typically result in guilt and frustration and a sense of loss of control. However, the behaviors are still being consciously engaged and simply are not being attended to until later. The whole notion of 'an unconscious' is really a mind game; mind pretending not to know what we clearly do know. 

Another example of such unconscious behavior is denial and projection. We may become angry when something is brought to our attention that we don't want to accept, and we may respond by angrily denying that it's true, but of course we wouldn't be angry unless we already knew it was true. The same game is revealed in projection, whereby we see our own denied behavior in others who are not expressing this behavior, and not in ourselves. The only reason we see it in others is because we see it in ourselves and pretend not to. The same is true of 'unconscious habits'. We're simply pretending not to notice.

The whole point is to collapse the self created illusions of unconsciousness, mind splits and uncontrolled programming and come face to face with our own present moment choice. It doesn't mean that we will make the choice to end the habit, only that there will be no games to act as a buffer between our choice and the action that follows. There is no longer any delay or struggle or process to go through, there is just you, conscious and whole, directly confronting your own choice as to what to do next.

Since what we are doing is reversing a set of compensating tactics designed to get what we want and avoid guilt, removing these illusions will mean you don't always get what you want and you may have to face your tendency to self judge. It means facing life as it actually is instead of how you want it to be, and this is the path to freedom.

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The Habit Game