We have already started addressing this issue in technique Nr. 4. I ended by saying, ‘Identify and eliminate situations in which you are most likely to fall back into your old habits’. During the course of this strategy we are going to look at the best ways of doing this.
Let’s start by defining what a weakness is. I’d like to call a weakness a moment when you want to do something, or want to abstain yourself from doing something and you give in to your urges and act in a way that contrary to what you wanted.
“Our primary problem isn’t that we’re weak; it’s that we’re blind”
So an example of a weakness can be to eat fast-food, while your goal was to not eat fast-food for two months. This is an example of giving in to your temptations by doing something. An example of giving in to your temptations by not doing something is watching TV instead of going to the gym.
So according to this definition, there are two kinds of weaknesses:
Weakness Type 1: Giving in to your temptations by doing something
Weakness type 2: Giving in to your temptations by neglecting to do something
Depending upon the goal or challenge you have set for yourself (or maybe your GP has set for you), you have to find out which of these two types of weaknesses is applicable in your situation.
Examples of Weakness Type 1:
-eating fast food
Examples of Weakness Type 2:
-not finishing your work of time
-not going to the gym
-not being attentive to the persons around you
-not visiting your parents-in-law (Thank god mine are awesome)
Dealing with these Weakness Types
By not doing something seems easier than doing something in the beginning. Doing something implies action; not doing something implies sitting down on your butt, right?
Wrong! As soon as it has come to the point of an addiction, or a habit, it is really hard to get rid of this. The problem isn’t only that we are weak and blind, but that we are now controlled by forces that we can’t even see! Our mind is playing dirty, dirty tricks on us to get its fix. From my own experience, I can confidently say that it is harder to get rid of an existing habit, than to create a new one.
Think about examples from your own life. Now define your biggest weakness. (One that you would like to get rid of)
After finding our weakness type and defining our weakness, we have to look for the moments where we’re most likely to give in to our weakness. During these moments, you are at your weakest. In your head, you’re probably going to make things up and tell yourself that it’s alright to have that smoke this time. Because tomorrow, you are really going to start this…right…?
No. Moments like these are happening every day in your life, even though you might not be aware of it. In fact, most of these temptations are unconscious. Most of our behaviour in unconscious (scientists estimate 95%), so are our temptations.
What is really important is to become aware of these urges. When do they strike? Try making a little note every time you discover one of these temptations. Is it in the morning? When you are under stress? Is it only when you are alone? Discover the patterns.
So we know by now what weakness type we are dealing with. We have defined the weakness and we know when to give in to our weakness and are most likely to occur. Let’s find out what the last step is. Be prepared when the temptations strike! These temptations are like Steven King’s ‘Langoliers’, slowly, but most definitely consuming the whole world. Make sure you keep moving forward, and don’t become a part of, or long for, the past. The Langoliers love consuming the past.
So what is the exact thing that you will do when they come?
For smokers (or weakness type 1’s) , this might involve grabbing something else they can fidget with and hold in their hands, or even put in their mouth. For example, a smoker can grab a toothpick every time he feels the Langoliers coming. He then puts it in his mouth, takes it out of his mouth and puts it in an ashtray.
For a type 2 weakness, you can prepare yourself by thinking of an automatic response as soon as you hear the gnawing sound of the Langoliers. By automatic response to my I’m-so-not-going-for-a-run-today weakness is to instantly, as fast as I can, put on my running outfit. Then, I know for sure that I will go for a run. Whether it is at that exact moment or 30 minutes later, it is bound to happen.
To sum up:
Step 1: Find your weakness type
Step 2: Define your weaknes
Step 3: Identify the moments when the urges are most likely to occur
Step 4: Prepare for these moments by having an automatic response to them