TWELVE: Bad Habits and Self-Honesty

Never trust an Atom, they make up everything

Me, obviously. lololol

Let’s get a show of hands here, who has ever told a lie? Hm, so the majority of you, but I can see a few of you didn’t raise your hand. Aside from the one of you who has their headphones in and ISN’T LISTENING, you have just become the subject of today’s post. Honesty with oneself.

We’ve all told a lie. Sometimes it’s a little white lie, so as to not give away the surprise party you have planned for your friends, sometimes it’s not so little. There are a million reasons to tell a lie, to whoever it may be, but the biggest disservice we can do is lie to ourselves

Now I’m not talking about telling ourselves that we’re not really really really ridiculously good looking, because that doesn’t apply to the Timmunity, the Timmunity only promotes positive self-talk (yes, I’m looking at you, you juicy ass peach, don’t you ever believe otherwise). I’m talking about the lies we tell ourselves to enable unhealthy habits to continue. We’ve all been there, we’ve all got one, sometimes we might have more than one. But this I know for sure, you will never conquer a bad habit until you’re honest with yourself and admit what you’re doing is unhealthy.

I can absolutely vouch for how easy it is to deny your unhealthy habits, it’s far easier than admitting otherwise. But at the end of the day, you can tell your friends and family that nothing is wrong, that’s one thing, but to not admit it too yourself is about as counterproductive as it comes. We can stand outside on a cloudless day and proclaim that the sky is purple, that ain’t going to change reality. Throughout the course of my life I have identified a few times when I’ve identified my healthy habits, and it got me absolutely nowhere.

So let’s consider a few things, and I will use my vices as an example, because I know that some of you will be able to relate. When I reflect on any kind of behaviour or habit that I pick up, both healthy and not-so-healthy,  I take a few things into consideration;

  1. Is my behaviour affecting myself, or people around me, positively  or negatively?
  2. While it may feel good at the time, do I continue to feel good physically/mentally afterwards?
  3. Am I doing this because I enjoy it, or is there something else going on that I am trying to distract myself from?

If I respond to any of these questions in a way that indicates that my behaviour is having a negative impact on my life, that is the time when I start to think to myself that I need to stick a swift boot up its backside and send it packing.

I’ll gladly share an experience of my own. My youth is riddled with moments I’m not 100% proud of, not that I ever did something intentionally horrible, 90% of the guilt I felt was my own insecurities exacerbating the problem. But I have definitely had some times when alcohol brought my troubles to the surface, and by the time they reared their ugly head I had lost the inhibitions I needed to control them. So, on those occasions (yes, there have been more than one), I would answer the above questions;

  1. My behaviour is affecting me, and the people around me, negatively. Because I’m acting like an absolute twat.
  2. I felt horrible at the time, and even more so during the hangover the next day and for the weeks that followed.
  3. No, I wasn’t doing it out of enjoyment, I was doing it to distract myself from my problems, which just ended up making them worse

When this would happen, I’d give myself a hard talking to (to add to the one I’d likely received from close family or friends), put my big boy pants on and take some responsibility. And that all started from being honest with myself. When I’m not in a healthy mental state, I don’t react to alcohol well. Even to this day I’ve started thinking to myself, I could do with far less of it in my life, I hate hangovers.

It’s so much easier said than done, but when I feel I need to give up a bad habit, or at the very least cut back on one until it’s no longer unhealthy, there are a few things I like to do to keep me on track;

  • Set myself a goal – no matter how you look at it, any sort of physical, mental or spiritual journey feels more achievable when you can see a little light or finish line in front of you. So why not set a goal? Maybe you go without drinking alcohol for 2 weeks, or eat an extra piece of fruit each day. Once you’ve reached it, you can assess the differences in how you feel, and set a new goal.
  • Get my close friends/family involved – is there a more gut wrenching feeling than copping a “I’m not angry…I’m disappointed” from a loved one? When I feel I need a little extra support in getting through the harder stages of breaking a habit, I like to tell my close friends and family what I’m doing. That way I hold myself accountable, and it’s a great feeling to celebrate the small wins with someone.
  • Rewarding yourself for the wins – at times I keep myself motivated to stay on track by allocating a reward for nailing a goal. Maybe it’s a day out at the beach or a trip to the cinema, or maybe a new book or video game. Whatever it is, if it keeps you motivated then it’s worth a shot! But try and keep it separate from your habit; if I’m cutting back on cigarettes, best not to reward myself for reaching a goal by smoking.

No-one is perfect, and it’s damn near impossible to face challenges alone. All of the greatest conquests in human history; the landing on the moon, the climbing of Everest, when Thanos clicked his finger to save the planet from certain destruction (re-watch the movie, he was the real hero) were achieved by a team team. Even a work of individual brilliance on the sporting field isn’t achieved without the support of a team. So consider yourself a mental health athlete, and treat the goals you set as preparation for a big game. Build your squad, be the coach of your own brain, and kick some ass. Happy Mental Health Monday!

We are very, very small, but we are profoundly capable of very, very big things

Stephen Hawking

Mental Health

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