You Can Change Your Habits by Choosing To
A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning.
A lot of people don’t even make New Year’s Resolutions any more. Why bother making resolutions if doing so is just an empty gesture? And if you can’t make New Year’s Resolutions that work, it’s less likely that you’ll make other resolutions throughout the year. We have a tendency to generalize: If we feel incapable of keeping resolutions, we won’t make more of them.
This book is about making and keeping resolutions anytime you want.
Because it’s not an empty gesture—not anymore. When Wiseman performed his research, he was studying people who made their resolutions without acquiring the tools that they needed.
This book is dedicated to all of your resolutions, both at New Year’s and at other times throughout the year. Use the Index below to locate the tools that you’ll need to succeed with your resolutions. I also suggest that you read You Must Design Your Own Program, and the sections where the tools that you choose are located.
There are eleven tools in all. Techniques that you can use right now are labeled “Method” in the index.
How to Handle Your Commitments if You’re Already Over-Committed. Many of us—maybe almost all of us—feel over-committed in our lives. You might therefore think that a book about how to get more things done is your enemy. But think about it again. If you’re over-committed, it means that you’re already committed to complete all those things, but you can’t. This book will help you turn the overwhelm you feel into a sense of accomplishment.
I’m personally over-committed because I have a lot of things I want to accomplish. There’s no technique in that will make me want to accomplish less. My commitments are my commitments—and I use the techniques in this book because I’m not going to quit being committed to them. These techniques will help you handle the commitments you already have with more grace.
I admit that this book is located on a web page, and that most people expect web pages to be short. As a web page, this book is a is too long for many people, though I frankly think that every word is worthwhile. It’s the size of six or more serious, full-length articles in Vanity Fair or The New Yorker, and I think almost all of it is pretty damn good. (Besides, you do read books, don’t you?)
If you succeed in changing habits that have been difficult for you, please send a donation through the Joyful Wisdom Payment Page. In addition, please share your success with your friends—both when using social media and when meeting in person.
Please return to this page in a few days or a week. By that time, I will have completed an e-book version of this page that you can purchase. After you download it, you’ll be able to read it off-line on an e-book reader, such as a Kindle or Nook.
- You Can Change Your Habits by Choosing To
- You Must Design Your Own Program
- The Basics for Defeating Addictions and Other Cravings
- Analyze the Problem
- Understand Your Emotional Saboteurs and Negotiate with Them
- Get Help Dealing with Your Saboteurs
- Manage Your Motivation
- Track Your Progress to Ensure Success
- Growth Works Better in Community.
You Must Design Your Own Program
There’s a special kind of growth that we have trouble with: changing habits. Changing habits is important for both solving problems and achieving goals that stretch you into new arenas. Habits are involved with health, money, relationships, your creative goals, and your career goals.
I’ve had to work really hard on habits, because conquering them is not natural for me. If you’re an expert in handling habits, you could probably teach me a thing or two. However, because it’s not natural to me, I’ve developed quite a number of methods to help me with this challenge.
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all method for changing habits, because any single problem you might have is actually many different problems. Habits are complicated; you’ve probably read much longer books about the habits you want to change, and yet, here you are: still needing help.
Your own personal challenges with habits might also refuse to fit into a neat category. For example, chronic disorganization is a common problem for many different people. But do you ever get the impression that the books and systems that work for other people just don’t fit you?
The causes of your chronic disorganization are uniquely yours. They’re probably completely different from the causes of your friend’s disorganization problems. There are many potential causes: from inner conflict to ADHD, from emotional trauma to lack of appropriate storage, and from being raised by bad role models to dietary problems that affect your mental clarity.
Getting organized is a complex goal that probably will require changes to many different habits. Finding the right system for you might take a lot of trial and error to find the solutions that work for your unique challenges.
The good news is that this short book is all you need to solve many of these problems. That’s because this book is not about organizing or any of the goals you might want to reach. This book is about how to create specific habits that will support your goals. You can decide which habits you want to create for the goals that you’ve set.
This single book will provide you with tools that you can use to sort out many of your issues with habits. I will point you in new directions that you probably haven’t thought of yet, share methods from experts and methods that I have invented, and assist you in creating your very own personalized approach that will help you with your unique challenges. Hopefully, some of what I share will be useful. In addition, there are things I can help you with as a coach, and I won’t be coy about offering my services when appropriate.
There are some problems that are beyond the scope of this book. Addictions, for instance, generally require a lot more help than a book can provide. I’ll try to point you in the right directions for these, as well as sharing my own experience with addictions. But that’s not the kind of habit this book is really for.
In this book, I have attempted to provide a well-rounded and complete guide that provides some help, even if your issues are beyond the scope of this book. I’d like to call your attention to several of my favorite methods that might work as stand-alone techniques for you. Even so, I recommend that you at least read the sections that these three methods are part of.
- The Applause Technique: a method for developing simple new habits.
- An Excel Sheet with Automatic Totals and Averages: A method of tracking as whole bunch of new habits together.
- Mindfully Write Yourself out of the Wilderness: A method of dealing with addictions.
By themselves, these three methods can help you change a lot of habits. But for complex and resistant habit change, they may not be enough. This book is chock full of other techniques—ten in total—and I cannot predict which will work best for you.
Every single one of the techniques is going to take work. You’re not going to be able to change habits by simply “getting it” or by having an insight. You’re going to have to actually write things down in your journal. If you don’t do the work, you won’t get the results.
Ready? Let’s go!
The Basics for Defeating Addictions and Other Cravings
This book is not about addictions, but I’m going to start by discussing them. However, although addictions are beyond the scope of this short book about habits, many of us do have habits which are like addictions in some way, so the topic does deserve a brief discussion, including a method for addiction-like habits. If you have no addiction-like habits, use the Book Index to navigate to a section that’s more relevant to you.
For addictions, most people need help from professionals or self-help groups like AA. A book like this cannot replace AA, other groups, professionals, or treatment programs that your doctor can refer you to.
Here’s what you need to understand to cure an addiction with any of these helpers or groups:
- Your success depends on your motivation and your willingness to stick with the program for the long haul. You might need to be the person who goes to AA for many years to keep yourself focused.
- Addictions are complex. You may need medical help (including pharmaceuticals), psychological help, and social support to make a permanent change.
- Social and psychological factors are crucial to your success. Portugal cut their addiction problems in half by legalizing all drugs and redeploying all of their enforcement dollars to programs for reintegrating drug addicts into society.
In this book, I will share with you what I did to quit smoking two packs per day over 35 years ago. My method enhanced my motivation and provided me with a program to stay focused for the long term.
But my method didn’t provide medical help, psychological help, or social support. If you use my method, you’ll need to look after those parts of the process yourself.
First, Distinguish Your Cravings from Addictions and Needs
Physical cravings may appear similar to both addictions and physical needs. For addictions, you may require the help described in the previous section. Beyond that, let’s talk about what you can’t eliminate.
You can’t eliminate physical needs. If you’re hungry, your body will sabotage your attempts to starve yourself. Moralizing anti-sex crusaders frequently disgrace themselves by succumbing to the very vices that they rail against. You’re never going to be able to break the habit of needing sleep.
So make sure that you’re not overriding a real need. You cannot defeat cravings and other physiological saboteurs if you don’t distinguish them from real needs. And you have to be the one who distinguishes real needs from cravings.
The problem is that your body doesn’t distinguish between negative addictions and real starvation. If you’re addicted to cigarettes or other drugs, your body deals with those desires as if you’re starving. This can be especially confusing if you’re trying to defeat a food-like substance, such as an addiction to white sugar products or pasta.
But you’re smart enough that you can distinguish things that your body cannot. Your cravings are not in charge—you are.
I’ve never been involved with twelve-step programs, but no discussion of fighting cravings and addictions would be complete without discussing them. There are twelve-step programs for almost anything you might want to quit, and Wikipedia provides a list that can help you find what you need.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), twelve-step programs usually involve the following:
- admitting that one cannot control one’s alcoholism, addiction or compulsion;
- recognizing a higher power that can give strength;
- examining past errors with the help of a sponsor (experienced member);
- making amends for these errors;
- learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior;
- helping others who suffer from the same alcoholism, addictions or compulsions.
Twelve-step programs are mostly effective because every time you attend a meeting, you reinforce your resolve, and furthermore, you do this publicly. If you’re really committed to making the change, the advantages of twelve-step programs include:
- Programs exist for the addiction you’re dealing with.
- For some types of addictions, there’s a meeting available to you in any isolated community where you might be.
- In a big city, you can go to a meeting every night.
- Twelve-step programs provide one-to-one peer support through their system of sponsors.
Some disadvantages include the fact that some people have philosophical misgivings about the religious elements of twelve-step programs. If you’re one of those people, you have two options:
- Make sure that it’s not just your ego that’s fighting the program. It can be hard to admit that you are not in control.
- Contact a social worker or other community support professional and ask for assistance in finding a self-help group that does not have the religious overtones that you’re allergic to.
EFT and Other Ways of Reducing Cravings
I’ve never used a nicotine patch, methadone, or any drug that reduces desire for alcohol. I’ve never used diet pills. I’ve never had my stomach stapled. But I’ve been around people who’ve tried these techniques, and I know that by themselves, these craving reduction techniques are often insufficient.
It’s very sad when someone goes through weight-loss surgery, only to discover that it hasn’t solved their problem, and that in fact, it’s added new problems to the old one. It’s sad when someone who is addicted to nicotine finds themselves simultaneously addicted to both patches and cigarettes.
If you’re using these kinds of craving reduction techniques, make sure that you’re also handling the emotional needs that may drive the cravings and that you use other methods of controlling the negative behavior along with these medical interventions.
EFT is a system of tapping on acupuncture points to change the movement and balance of energy in your body. Moving energy in this way can be very powerful in reducing or even eliminating cravings, and it has the added benefit of enabling you to work through emotional cause of addiction, over-eating, and other habits.
You can find EFT videos on YouTube for weight loss and other addictions here: YouTube EFT for Habit Change, but by themselves, they often don’t work. EFT is now recognized by the APA as an effective treatment modality, but in determining this, the APA does not recommend that you base your treatment on YouTube.
Most people need to work with someone who can help them delve into the emotional needs that are associated with their cravings. Even if you’re motivated to change your responses to your cravings, you may need individualized support in using your motivation effectively. You may need to clarify the importance of abstinence and develop strategies for keeping your resolve in the face of intense desire. You may need help in designing alternative things to do when resisting a craving.
In other words, EFT needs to be customized for you and your particular emotional and physical needs, and it typically needs to be part of an overall package that includes other elements.
Use the Contact Form to reach me concerning EFT and other help.
Quit Your Addictions Cold Turkey and Embrace Abstinence
If your body thinks that you’re starving for an addictive drug, such as nicotine, alcohol, white flour, or white sugar, it can cause you to develop an even worse addiction. When I tried to quit cigarettes in the 1970s, every time I returned to the habit, I smoked more than before. Some of my friends refused to try to quit smoking to avoid this very problem, because they had seen it in other people.
The same thing has happened to both me and other people I’ve known who have “gone on a diet.” When these diets are simply reducing calories or portion control, most of them have eventually gone back to weighing more than they did at the start. I know that there are exceptions to every rule, and in addition, everyone has their own theory of weight loss, but I wonder how many of you have seen people lose weight and then become heavier than before.
We have a normal physiological response to deep hunger, which is to fatten ourselves up to help us survive the next famine period. This tendency helped our ancestors if they were living with regular food insecurity. When our bodies decide that the same logic applies to nicotine, other drugs, or fattening or unnatural foods, our bodies may think they’re making a wise choice, but our minds know better.
The only people I’ve known who have made a permanent success of weight loss are those who have made radical changes in the types of foods they eat. In other words, they’ve quit eating all the problem foods cold turkey and they’ve developed new habits that don’t rely on them. The only people I know who’ve been able to eventually quit cigarettes are those who eventually make the choice of quitting cold turkey. (In my experience and opinion, trying to cut back actually makes it harder to quit, because your body is in rebellion before you actual try.)
I quit smoking two packs of cigarettes per day in 1982 cold turkey, and the craving has never gone away completely. But by making that radical decision, I’ve been able to keep my cigarette consumption down to one cigarette in 35 years. Even that one cigarette made my cravings worse for a couple weeks.
I’m currently on a radical Paleo diet consisting of meat and vegetable smoothies that still contain all of the fiber (as opposed to vegetable juice that does not). In other words, I quit everything else cold turkey—the sugar, the pasta, the bread, and even honey. But I allow myself to eat as much I want in these two categories. Within two weeks of allowing myself as much food as I wanted in only these categories, I lost fifteen pounds. Then came Christmas, and I added a few healthy treats to my diet for a short period, gaining several pounds in the process.
Now that I’ve once again quit all of the harmful foods cold turkey, I’ve begun losing weight again—to a total of 20 pounds. In every case, once I get past the initial struggle to quit problem foods cold turkey, it’s easy. I don’t have to be constantly focused on calorie counting, and I don’t have to generate the will power to restrict quantities.
When I’m done with this phase—in other words, once I decide to stop juice-blending my vegetables—maintenance will not be hard. A Paleo diet is sustainable, and it will not lead to regaining any of the weight that I will have lost.
This regimen might seem extreme or impossible to you, but it’s not to me. When I made these dietary changes cold turkey, the regimen was challenging for the very first week, but it hasn’t been difficult since. I never have to think much about it. It’s just a new habit, and I’m usually totally satisfied.
If your habit involves cravings, consider quitting the problem behavior cold turkey, and especially consider the following technique: Mindfully Write Yourself through the Wilderness. That’s how I quit smoking two packs a day in 1982.
Method: Mindfully Write Yourself out of the Wilderness
I’m going to tell you the most extreme way of using journaling technique in this section, because that’s how I quit one of the most difficult addictions: nicotine. For milder craving problems, such as quitting a harmful food substance, you can modify it so that it’s not as grueling a process to follow as it was when I used it.
The problem with physiological cravings is that no matter how well you prepare to tackle them, the minute you let your guard down, they can jump out at you from behind a bush and attack you when you’re not prepared. This was an insight that I first had when quitting smoking, which is a craving-based habit that can bother you frequently throughout the day. For me, the cravings attacked every 20 to 25 minutes to total 40 cigarettes per day—or more.
By 1982, I had almost given up quitting smoking. I used to quote Mark Twain and say, “It’s easy to quit smoking. I’ve done it hundreds of times.” Of course, this was before the internet came along to declare that Mark Twain never said that. (The internet ruins so many things.)
I finally found a book about quitting smoking: I have no idea what it was—only that it sort of worked. Actually, it didn’t work at all, but it started me on the approach that did work. The book said to prepare for quitting smoking by deciding when you would do it, by writing down all of the reasons to quit, and by enjoying all of your cigarettes until the date planned.
By itself, this didn’t work, but it started me on a new process: studying the cravings directly and with mindfulness. I don’t know if this will work for you, and frankly, I’m not disturbed by very many cravings and addictions any more, so I don’t have many other things to test it on.
Nonetheless, this is a technique I used to quit a really difficult addiction, one which was destroying my health, using up my money, and making me feel like I had no personal control over my life.
To overcome a really serious addiction with physical cravings, do the following, and modify this method for your lesser addictions.
Step 1: Use the ideas from the book on quitting smoking that I read:
- Plan on which date you’re planning to quit ahead of time.
- Write a detailed summary of the reasons you want to quit the habit.
- Write about your despair and answer your doubts as convincingly as you can.
Step 2: Plan ahead. When do you expect the cravings to hit you? What are the triggers, and can you predict them?
- List as many triggers as you can.
- For cigarettes, this was easy for me. Every 25 minutes, I needed one. In addition, I needed a cigarette when someone else had one, with coffee, and after eating. Sometimes, just seeing the package was enough to trigger a craving.
- Some people need cigarettes with coffee or booze. I didn’t drink, but coffee was a trigger for me.
- A craving for sweets might be triggered by finishing the meal, by walking past a donut shop, by having your morning coffee, or many other things that are unique to you.
Step 3: Set yourself up to start writing in your journal before experiencing each trigger—or at least the first triggers you will encounter. You could write in your journal while sitting in your car outside the donut shop or immediately on sitting down in the break room with other smokers.
- You may need to do this repeatedly.
- Do not quit the habit at this point.
Step 4: In your journal, describe the craving.
- Describe when it starts and how quickly you succumb to it.
- If you don’t act immediately, describe how long the craving lasts before it fades.
- Describe your thoughts about quitting and how the craving itself reacts to them.
- Write about your inner conflict about quitting: the reasons you want to and the reasons you don’t.
- Write dialogs between the part of you that wants to quit and the part that wants to maintain the status quo. (Check out The Progoff Dialog App.)
Step 5: Continue or repeat this process until you decide to quit—or until you decide definitively not to quit.
- Whatever your decision, record your thoughts as you make the decision.
- When you actually quit, record your thoughts and feelings about making the decision as you make it.
Step 6: Observe and record your reactions to quitting immediately after making the decision.
- Notice and describe the first craving that comes after you make the decision, and describe your reactions. Notice how long the craving lasts, how it fades, and your experiences after defeating the first craving.
- Do the same for the second craving, the third, and so on.
- If you fall off the wagon, record the thoughts that led you to fall. (Be honest. You actually jumped off of it.)
Step 7: If you can’t think of anything to write, read your old entries to distract you and reinforce your decision.
- You don’t have to read much. Cravings don’t last that long.
- Rereading old entries can trigger great new insights that you’ll want to also record. So write responses to the things you read.
- Sometimes, just reading the old entries will be enough to restart your resolve.
- The goal is to keep your pen moving, your fingers typing, or your eyes reading until the craving is no longer the boss.
Step 7: Once you’ve quit, carry your notebook with you whenever you might face a trigger.
- For even the worst addictions, such as nicotine, you won’t need to do this for longer than a couple of weeks.
- Carry it during predictable trouble spots: after a month and after three months, or at times when you’ll be facing multiple triggers.
That’s all there is too it! (Yeah, right!)
(But I’m serious: This could save your life. It’s worth it.)
Analyze the Problem
What Happens When You Try to Change Your Habits?
If changing your habits was easy, you wouldn’t need this (or any other) system. You’ve probably already tried unsuccessfully to change one or more habits a dozen times, and you may have even given up in frustration. You may have decided that it’s too hard for someone as weak as you. What’s the point trying if you’re going to fail, anyway?
Instead of giving up, let’s start by analyzing what gets in the way. The following sections will help you do that, but they will also help you eliminate some of the factors that will stand in your way as you proceed with this program.
Many of these sections may not apply to you. I don’t recommend you throw all of the techniques in this book at the wall to see which ones stick. I recommend you try the ones that seem most appropriate, and if they don’t work, try adding some additional ones.
Map Out What’s Going On Right Now
Many of your New Year’s Resolutions or your other intentions to change your life will be very familiar to you. You’ve made these very same resolutions before. You might not be able to count how often you’ve failed. There are all kinds of reasons this may be so, but there’s one thing you can conclude that gives you a clue where to start.
It’s this: The status quo must be providing you with some powerful rewards (or reasons) for not changing. This is an obvious statement, but it provides a path to changing your habits.
Method: Find Out What’s Motivating Your Personal Status Quo
You probably know some obvious answers to the following questions. The reason for writing down your answers is to go beyond the obvious. That’s the problem with the obvious answers: they haven’t yet helped you to change.
In answering these questions in a paper journal, leave plenty of space so that you can add to them. In a computer document, any of your answers can be expanded, changed, or evolved easily without leaving extra space.
Step 1: First, in your journal, outline what triggers the behavior or habits that you want to change. Something happens before the bad habit occurs. What is it?
- If the bad habit is that you fail to do what you want to be doing, what thoughts come up that cause you to give it a pass?
- In addition, what are some things that could trigger the new habit that you want to create?
- Start with this format, but make it a lot more detailed: “When I see X, I do Y.” Or “When I experience X, I want to do Y.”
- The trigger can be an emotion, such as boredom, anger, desire, or sadness.
- Revisit this section There may be triggers that you don’t think of the first time you answer it.
Step 2: Describe the habit or behavior you want to change in a moment-by-moment, action-oriented description. Sometimes the answer is in the details. So, be detailed.
Step 3: What are the results of the bad habit—especially the rewards that keep you doing it? (Or what are the results of not having a good habit?) Make sure you include the negative results and the rewards. Describing the rewards can actually be more important than describing the negative consequences.
- This can be “What are the results of my failure to act?”
- If this is truly an ongoing bad habit, the positive results must be pretty damned good. So you need to find out what rewards you for staying the same. Spend the time it takes to identify all of the positive consequences of staying with the status quo.
Step 4: Review your answers to the first three questions and add to them.
- Then do it again.
- Make sure you wring every possible insight from the first three questions before you venture into the next one.
- Remember: The answers you seek are not the obvious answers. You’re looking for new insights, not the ones you already have.
Step 5: Brainstorm some alternatives to your current habit. This means you write everything that comes to mind, no matter how silly, weird, unusual, or impossible.
- Alternative triggers: These could include asking someone for help, setting timers, or creating reminders that you can leave in unusual places. Be creative.
- Alternative habits or alternative ways to accomplish the same thing.
- Alternative rewards you can add to the situation.
Step 6: Review everything you’ve brainstormed, and create a detailed and realistic plan. This will probably include:
- Things that will replace the bad behavior.
- Reminders that occur at the right time.
- An accountability buddy to check in with and to get support during difficult times.
- Ways to track and reward successes.
Since this method involves analyzing your motivation for staying the same, you may wish to combine it with methods from the Manage Your Motivation section.
To start with, it does no good to disparage yourself. When you say something negative about yourself, you’re not focusing on the problem. You’re focusing on yourself instead, and you’re reinforcing the idea that the problem is too hard to beat.
Putting yourself down only weakens your resolve and reduces your ability to change your habits. In other words, if you put yourself down for your previous failures, you’re actually sabotaging your next attempt.
One of your first tasks, then, might be to eliminate the negative things you say to yourself. It doesn’t matter where these negative messages came from. Maybe your parents left you wounded by calling you names and putting you down over and over and over again—and maybe you’ve ended up believing all of those putdowns. Or maybe it happened with classmates at school, your siblings, or a spouse.
It doesn’t matter what started it. What matters is ending it.
Saying negative things about yourself may be such a habit that you don’t even notice it. Try asking someone who you trust: “Do you think that I put myself down too much?” It’s not a hard question to ask, but be sure not to argue with the feedback you receive. Ask more questions about the feedback to make sure that you understand it fully.
Method: Replace Negative Self-Talk
Step 1: Think about the recent past and look for times that you put yourself down in general.
- Write these down in your journal or in a computer file.
- Include details about the situation in which you put yourself down.
- The advantage of a computer file is that you can constantly add instances of putting yourself down and delete instances that you’re done with.
Step 2: Think about the habit you want to change. What “realistic” explanations do you give for why you can’t change that habit—especially explanations that emphasize your innate lack of will power, resolve, or other necessary qualities?
- Write these in your journal as well.
- If you can remember these situations or making explanations of them, give either specific details that you can remember—or likely ones, if it’s a chronic problem.
Step 3: Think of times when someone else has put you down—including the very subtle or sneaky putdowns that aren’t immediately objectionable.
- Are there any of those putdowns that you suspect are true or that really hurt?
- Write these in your journal as well.
- Include any details you can remember.
Step 4: Go through each of these negative evaluations, and create a more empowering explanation. For instance:
- Instead of saying, “I’ve got so little self-discipline,” say, “I didn’t have a realistic plan.”
- Instead of saying, “It was stupid for me to do ____,” say, “I get a lot of new information by trying things out.”
- Instead of saying, “I can’t ever remember to…,” say, “I need to figure out a better reminder system.”
Step 5: Imagine you’re in the original situations in which you denigrated yourself. Practice using the positive self-talk, rather than the original self-judgment.
- Use your notes about the specific situations to help you visualize yourself as if you were in the original situation and then mentally practice the new way of explaining it. Add details to your notes as they come to you.
- The point of this exercise is not to show you up for one more thing you did wrong. The point is to replace one way of thinking with another.
- Practice as often as you can, and make it your goal to eliminate all self-deprecation. Negative self-judgment doesn’t serve you in any real way.
Step 6: As you eliminate your negative judgments about yourself, watch for new strategies for changing the habit that you’re targeting. Sometimes making your point of view more positive will automatically cause you to solve problems.
This little practice may not seem like it’s focused enough on the habits you want to change. You may feel annoyed that I’m recommending something so far off the mark for what you want to change.
Just remind yourself as often as possible that your self-esteem is the foundation on which the change will come.
Method: The Inner Silence App: Use Inner Silence to Be More Thoughtful Throughout your Daily Life
(To use this app, click the link in the title.)
This app is useful if you’re having emotional reactions to changing your habits, and those reactions are stopping you from thinking clearly about the habits you want to change. For example, if you’re trying to use the previous method (Mindfully Write Yourself out of the Wilderness), you could actually do your writing inside of this particular app.
Before writing anything about the craving you experience, the app will guide you to empty your mind before writing. Inner silence may, in fact, be all that is necessary to overcome the craving.
But even if you’re not using it for cravings, it’s useful to empty your mind periodically as analyze your habits and situation or while you’re creating or revising a plan. It will enable you to think more objectively and less impulsively about the progress you’re making—or the lack of progress.
As I write this, I’m currently using the Inner Silence App with the previous technique to quit a long-standing habit of wasting time with the Free Cell game on my computer. It’s working, but the behavior change doesn’t have enough history to write home about it yet. I will be updating the online version of this paper at https://community.joyfulwisdom.org/keep-your-resolutions-change-your-habits-now, so please visit that site for the latest update on my progress. (Because of the number of links in this pdf, it’s not so easy to update.)
Using the Inner Silence App to keep writing about quitting this game helps me maintain both my focus and my resolve—both of which are easy to forget when you’re succeeding.
The one thing that could make me fail is forgetting how important this decision is to me, forgetting my resolve, forgetting that I’ve already put a lot of effort into it, and as a result, forgetting to take this goal seriously enough.
So I write about quitting Free Cell during times when I wouldn’t play the game anyway for the single purpose of keeping my resolve active in my mind.
(I wrote the Inner Silence App myself, and it has one important flaw: it doesn’t have a way of saving what you write. So if you use it, you’ll need to periodically copy everything out of the app into a text document to save it. Instructions are at the end of the app, so you should do a dry run before counting on it.)