About the Author: James Robbins is a licensed professional counselor, published author and co-owner of Dallas Whole Life Counseling. He has over 15 years of experience helping people in various life stages that come from a wide variety of cultural, economic and family backgrounds. Learn more about his background by clicking here.
When are you next scheduled to misbehave? And by “misbehave,” I mean drink too much, eat too much, lie to your spouse, lose your temper–whatever bad habits you’re trying to work through. Probably you don’t have these items on your official “to do” list. Yet, they still get done, and likely on a fairly predictable schedule.
Accurately and concretely predicting your next “failure” isn’t negative. It’s not about throwing in the towel or beating yourself up. It’s about giving youself a better shot at avoiding whatever the unwanted habit is. Going to the bar, determined not to drink, will work for you about as well as it has in the past. If you tend to drink every time you go to the bar, be honest with yourself. Plan for a taxi, an Uber. This forces you to deal with your eventual “choice” to drink well before you make it.
Predicting your next misbehavior encourages you to recognize underlying patterns of stress, anger and disappointment. These feelings no longer sneak up on you. Drama no longer arises out of nowhere. You see things happening in slow motion–one good intention after another giving way to old patterns. Can you watch this happening in the moment? Can you be unflinchingly honest with yourself? Can you recognize the suffering certain behaviors will inevitably produce? And can you do all this without judging yourself?
Sometimes, letting go of unwanted habits is more about total self-honesty than it is white-knuckled self-discipline.