One evening an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He explained that there are two wolves inside all people.
One of them is bad, and represent self-pity, resentment, inferiority. The other one is good and stands for joy, peace, and love.
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’
The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.’
Which habit do you feed?
You must’ve heard the story about the two wolves before. It’s meant to be interpreted as a parable of good and bad choices we make, actions we do, and habits we “feed”.
We’re sure you’ve learned by now that repeatedly doing the same thing turns it into a habit. When you form a habit, there is no longer any need to think about it – you do it naturally. This can be anything from washing your hands as soon as you get home to stretching first thing in the morning.
Habits can come in pretty handy if they’re supportive habits that help you live at peace, save you time and make you feel happier. Picture yourself eating healthily automatically. Or a scenario in which working out becomes your second nature. Just imagine… But, in order to start developing a good habit, first, we need to get rid of the bad ones – those that undermine us on our road to living the optimal way of life.
How to unlearn unhealthy habits?
Step 1 — Investigate
In order to break a bad habit, we need to determine what that habit is. Even if there are more, start with one. Have a clear understanding of what that habit is and what makes it harmful to you. If you want to stay adamant in vanquishing it, go the extra mile and ask yourself these questions: Is this habit stopping me from achieving my goals? What kind of a person would I be if I kicked this habit? Are there any benefits to keeping this habit?
Step 2 — Conclude
Let’s say that your habit is reaching for the cookie jar. Take notice of when you turn to your habit. Try to catch the thought that precedes your action. When does it usually happen? How do you feel at that moment? What type of situation makes you do it? Next, create a substitute action plan. Next time your hand goes for the sweet temptation, have a plan B planned: grabbing a glass of water, leaving the room and calling your friend, grabbing pen and paper and writing down the answer to the questions above.
Step 3 — Divert
It’s go time.
Now you know which triggers to be on the lookout for. When you catch your trigger thought/situation say stop out loud. This can be tricky if you’re surrounded by people, so in that case, count to 10. Not 3, not 7, 10. This will give you time to reassess.
Next, divert your mind and replace your usual habit with your plan B action. If one doesn’t cut it, go for the next one. In case the need doesn’t stop, think of all the benefits losing this habit brings. Switch perspectives – you’re trying out something new, and that is a wonderful experience. Take the first step, see that is can be done. Then take another one, see what lies beyond. Your fear will soon give way to curiosity.
Step 4 — Remember
Stop beating the drum of what makes you feel bad and start deliberately focusing on the things that make you feel good. On the occasions you succeed, allow yourself to feel good and empowered. On the occasions you don’t, accept it and remember it’s a process. One failure does not define you, get back on your feet, and be even more determined next time. This ongoing encouragement will help you feed the good wolf inside you and the unhealthy habit is bound to disappear.
Step 5 — Empower
Focus on empowering yourself. You are NOT your habit. You did not always have this habit, and you can be free of it again. You can create greater peace, confidence, and a more positive outlook by learning how to manage your thoughts. After all, you can do whatever you set your mind to because you have the power of choice. Seize it and see where it takes you.