Some habits, such as working out, meditating, etc., are beneficial. Others, such as smoking, gambling, etc., are harmful. Regardless of whether they’re beneficial or harmful, recent studies indicate that our actions and thoughts are 40% habits. In other words, almost half of what we do and think is simply something we repeat over and over again without really thinking about it. For example, no doubt most of you can remember a day, if not every day, when you drove to work but, once you arrived, you couldn’t remember driving there. While you were off in dreamland, your mind and body automatically took you to where you were going. That’s because you had driven the same route hundreds, if not thousands, of times. Your body and subconscious knew what to do. Repetitive patterns happen without us thinking about them because if we had to think about most of our behavior, our brain could not function. Of course, our body functions mostly on automatic. How many of us think about blinking, breathing, keeping our balance while walking, etc.? These are habits. Repetitive patterns also happen in relationships.
No doubt most of us enter into romantic partnerships because we feel the need to love and be loved. We feel the need to be complete. When we feel loved by someone, our sense of self-worth and self-esteem are momentarily uplifted. We feel that we are worthy. If you are like most people, you have been questioning your self-worth since you were a child. For most of us, we felt entitled to the love of our parents. Yet, invariably, at some point in our childhood, there came a moment where that love was withheld. Usually when we most needed it. This moment shattered our sense of self-worth. We began to question whether we were worthy of being loved. This thought was reinforced through repetition when some of our peers picked on us in school. For boys, it may have been because we weren’t picked first, or not at all, for the football or hockey team, or were made to feel nerdy. For girls, it may have been because you didn’t get a Valentine’s Day card, or you were made to feel ugly. As we grew up, this thought was repeated through exposure to the media, whether it was advertisements making us feel less than worthy unless we drank a particular beer, drove a particular car, wore a particular pair of shoes or jeans, or used a particular cell phone, etc.. Like most people who have jobs, your sense of self-worth was also attacked at work. The germ of a thought that you were unworthy was repeated enough that it became a habit. Like any habit, it became subconscious.
This sense of being unworthy of being loved drives, consciously or unconsciously, some of our most self-destructive behaviors. Most of us, if not all of us, have entered into and stayed with partnerships that did not serve our highest good. Some of us may still be in such partnership. Some of us drink to excess or do drugs, legal or illegal, or both. Mostly to forget that we feel unworthy. Some of us literally fight for this sense of worthiness by joining gangs and committing criminal acts of violence. Some of us overeat for, in doing so and becoming bigger, we not only lay a subconscious protective layer around us that insulates us from other people, but we can also blame our physique for our lack of a romantic partner. Some of us go on sexual binges in an effort to feel loved. As the song says: The things we do for love.
But habits that we do not like or that do not serve our highest good can be changed. Yes, it takes effort and focus, but you can be free of the shackles of feeling that you are not worthy and all the negative behavior (habits) associated with this belief. Ironically, changing a habit requires … well, a new habit. Let’s call it a ritual just to make a difference. Habits actually form in a three-step process which is known as a ‘habit loop’ – a cue is followed by a behavior which is followed by a reward. The behavior is what we all associate with the habit, but what we need to recognize is that the entire process is important if we want to make significant changes.
Each of us has the ability (forget about will power) to change our thought patterns. We can do it in a myriad of ways. We can choose to watch a comedy when we feel sad. We can choose to work out, which has been proven to lift our mood. We can choose to listen to upbeat music, also proven to lift our mood. The most effective way is, no doubt, to treat ourselves with respect. Would you do to your best friend what you do to yourself? Would you talk to your best friend the way you talk to yourself? Would you feed your dog what you feed yourself? Most likely the answer is a resounding NO! We keep feeding our bodies so–called food that we know is harmful. We keep drinking until we throw up, throwing our entire system in chaos. We inject, smoke, swallow, and I don’t what else, drugs to see our world differently. We tell ourselves that we are stupid, fat, undesirable, unlovable, lonely, etc. Really?
When I was growing up, my father used to tell me never to put myself down as they were plenty of people waiting in line to do so. And, you know what? My father was right! Yet, there are moments when I too feel unworthy of being loved. Our surrounding environment is full of potential events and cues (most of them on electronic media) that can shatter our belief in ourselves. We can choose to use those cues to invalidate ourselves, or we can choose to ignore them and know – not just believe, but know – that we are worthy. For those of us who are spiritually inclined, we believe we are Source. For those of us who are religiously inclined, we believe we are children of God. Either way, she could only create beings who are worthy.
Start with being conscious of your thoughts and behavior. Listen to how you talk to yourself. If you have time, keep a journal where you write these self-talks down and you’ll be amazed. Even if you do it for only one (1) day, you’ll be amazed. Then create a ritual around yourself that enriches you and lets you know you are worthy! These can be simple such a weekly bubble bath with candles and soft music. Or setting a nice table with, again, candles, fine silverware and soft music. Be conscious of what you eat. Taste the texture of the food. Smell its aroma. Delight in nourishing your body. Or go for a run, or a bike ride, or a simple walk around the neighborhood. Watch your muscles move to the rhythm of your breath. Or grow a garden. Delight in feeling Mother Earth under your fingernails. Watch her nourish your plants and flowers and enjoy their growth. Life is full of miracles all around you that you let you know you are worthy. You just need to take the time to create a ritual that lets you believe it, and then know it.
Take that first step into self-love. What have you got to lose?
 If you provide your email, I’ll be happy to provide you with a copy of: Habits – A Repeat Performance, Neal, D., Wood, W. and Quinn, J, Current Direction in Psychological Science, Duke University.
As always, in love – Jean-Pierre
You can now follow me at HeartWhisper