Are You Creating Your Habits Or Are Your Habits Creating You?
Growth and change can happen in two ways – although one will inevitably lead to the other if cultivated to its complete fruition; as one is ultimately a reflection of the other. Growth can manifest from the inside out or can be influenced from the outside in. And as inside and outside are just two sides of the same coin, normally both are happening simultaneously, although our conscious attention may only be directed at one or the other at any given time. You can change your thoughts, perspectives, and beliefs (inside) and allow that to reflect itself in your outward actions, habits, and behaviors; or you can make an attempt to modify your actions, habits, and behaviors (outside) and allow that to create the catalyst to change your thoughts, perspectives, and beliefs. But as I’ve said, even though these seem like two separate paths, both must ultimately occur in conjunction if there is to be lasting change and true growth.
The first step to growth is making the decision that you want to make a change. Often this is the most difficult step because it requires admitting to yourself that the way you’ve been going about things has been wrong and you are the one responsible for where you are at in life and therefore you have the power to create a new reality for yourself. The ego loves the illusion of certainty and consistency and does a great job upholding the story it has built about itself (yourself), so being confronted with a potential story change can feel like a degree of death that most of us have been conditioned to fear out of our forgetfulness of what we are and consequent illusion of separateness.
Normally it takes a lot of pain in your life – physically, mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually – to finally get to a place where you’ve had enough of your own bullshit to take that first step. And/or you must have a big enough Dream for yourself to willingly embrace the inevitable challenges of life and see them as stepping stones to your own growth – which is fundamentally a remembrance of what you actually are as one with Oneness itself.
One of the most important things you can do for yourself once you’ve taken this first step is to create and establish healthy rituals in your life. These are sacred habits/practices that you’ve intentionally created for yourself that act as guideposts to keep you aligned and moving towards your Dream.
The purpose of these rituals is twofold: Firstly, the practice itself will have a positive effect on your being. And secondly, you can choose practices that will help to strengthen certain aspects and attributes of your self that will aid you in becoming the type of person you need to be to do and have the things you say you want for yourself. A daily meditation practice of at least 20 minutes, for example, can not only help you grow your awareness of your Self and your thought and behavior patterns that may be Dream-affirmative or Dream-negative, but can also help you to develop the discipline required to pursue other meaningful goals.
A healthy ritual can be as simple as making your bed, taking a cold shower every morning, or drinking half your bodyweight in ounces of clean water every day. The important thing that it needs to be something you can commit yourself to and be consistent with long enough to form a habit. I like to commit myself to 100 consecutive days to gain the full experience of any practice before I decide if I want to maintain it or not. If you miss a day you must start back at day 1. This is called a Gong.
The beautiful part is that once you’ve proven to yourself that you can implement one healthy ritual into your life, it makes it much easier to add more. Since your habits ultimately shape your life, the more healthy habits you can implement, the more likely you are going to be on the path of growth towards your Dream. The reverse is also true: if you don’t take the time and effort to create intentional habits, you will likely fall into habits that are a result of your unconscious programming or the path of least resistance (which often leads to nowhere), which will ultimately result in pain of some form that you can either use constructively to grow your awareness and make better choices or fall into the self-destructive trap of blaming, numbing, running, and distracting yourself from the pain.
These rituals should be a part of your value system and therefore are “non-negotiables” – like breathing. When you create these rituals for yourself – like getting to sleep before 10:30pm every night – you can trust that even on your worst days, as long as you’re upholding your values and the rituals you’ve created for yourself, you’re still on track and getting better. These rituals act as the glue to hold everything together.
Change is an inevitable part of life no matter how much you try to control everything. But instead of working against that fact and creating more pain in your life, you can work with it and choose to change on purpose to be more in line with Change itself which is inherently Changeless. The more you choose to show up and do the hard work of remembering that you forgot, the more you can do your part in not only actualizing your own potential, but being a source of guidance and inspiration for others on their own growth journeys. What you do on the inside for yourself you are ultimately doing on the outside for everyone and everything else. The reverse is also true.
Implementing healthy rituals into your life is one of the best ways you can approach from the outside to help you make lasting change and growth on the inside. And the more you grow within yourself, the more fruitful and abundant your external reality will reflect itself back to you.