Habitual Awareness

Sometimes the only way habits seem to catch on for me is when I become more attuned to pain. Or put simply, sometimes it just takes a long time to realize how bad certain things make me feel.

For a long time I didn’t realize that, like, feeling bad after eating food was a thing. I literally wasn’t aware of how my body felt after eating. Which sounds insane. But it was real. I’d be three cheeseburgers deep and be like “yeah, sure, I dunno… I feel normal, I guess.”

As a kid you stay up past your bedtime despite the fact that it leaves you dead tired the next day. But as an adult the pain of a bad night’s sleep seems gain a sharp glare of pain and discomfort. So you stop doing it.

I spent years trying to create a meditation habit. But only when I really became aware of how horrible I felt when I didn’t meditate – even if it took weeks for that sensation to catch up with me – did the habit really stick.

Rather than focusing on execution, perhaps another approach is focusing on being aware of how good/horrible doing something makes you feel (even if that sensation is really subtle or not immediate). And if you don’t feel anything, maybe you just have to sit with it enough times until you do. It seems that when you’re attuned to that, your brain subconsciously accepts that fact that what you’re trying to do is a good idea and actually does it.


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