I didn’t intend on sharing this with you all, but I decided that if I’m going to run this site, I need to be honest. I was explicit in saying that I experience a lot of failure-like emotions, and I need to explore that part of the process here, too.
I woke up Saturday morning feeling okay. And then for some reason, I just wasn’t. It’s in these times where I go through what my wife calls periods of “self-loathing”. I hate saying it, but she’s right. If I examine my thoughts when I feel this way, the common theme is self-pity and disappointment in myself. Nothing happened to instigate this, but it does happen and it’s up to me to defeat it or let it rot my soul.
One method I use is to grab my notebook and write out what exactly the voice of self-loathing is telling me that particular day. It took the form of writing out all the bad habits I could think of. I didn’t get them all, but I made a good list. Then, because the exercise is meant to help me and not bury myself further, I wrote out my good ones. I asked my wife to help me with these because I don’t see myself clearly. The goal is to cultivate the good habits while phasing out the bad habits one at a time.
At the time, I was also listening to a podcast on The Art of Manliness about the ancient philosophy of Kaizen (small improvements/changes over time yield big results), so I used that to see if I could make small changes in my life to phase out my bad habits. But first, I had to determine what the triggers were for these habits. Once I figured this out, I could look for those tweaks, those small ways to make things easy (one of the SCIENCE steps for change as outlined in Sean D. Young’s Stick with It).
For example, I have the bad habit of only brushing my teeth once a day. I would like to brush them twice a day. The problem is that before bed, I’m usually watching Shark Tank or Game of Thrones or something, and I get tired and forget and then all I want to do is just crash (another bad habit: watching T.V immediately before bed). The solution I thought of was to set an alarm on my phone for 10:30 p.m every night so that when it goes off, two things happen:
- I remember to do it. It’s fresh in my mind. I’m not yet too tired to care.
- If I do not brush my teeth before bed, I will feel guilty.
As I do this every night, over time, my brain will devote cells to this action and it will become a habit. I won’t have to use as much energy to make myself do it in the future.
Another example is that I suck at exercising. I am lazy in this. So to start, I will exercise for just ten minutes in the morning before I go to work. The goal isn’t to get fit right now. The goal is to make a habit of doing physical activity every single day, even if it is just 10 minutes. This plan is good for a few reasons:
- It will pump some life into me before I start my day.
- Punching my biggest demon square in the mouth every morning will give me a boost of confidence.
- My brain will devote cells to this action and it will get easier over time. Then I will be able to increase time and intensity and go after my true goal of getting fit and running a Spartan Race next summer.
- I won’t have to worry about it all day. It will no longer plague me.
This whole activity made me feel better. It made me feel like I have control over myself and my future. I typically feel this way, but sometimes I don’t. I’m telling you about this because it may help in your own life, and also because it’s a moment of growth I’m proud of.
You can probably zoom and in and read what I wrote on the image above to get a better feel for my process.
If you’re feeling brave, share some of your own bad habits in the comments and try to think of a way to make a small change to eradicate them.
Thanks for reading.