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How to Understand Your Vices

How To’s designed to get you unstuck and pull you into alignment with your highest self.

Truth Bomb: Your vices are not your real problem; they are how you COPE with your real problem.

Let that sink in for a minute, because that statement is more true than anything your Inner Critic has been saying to you.

The real reason we struggle with vices is not because we lack willpower or good character.

In fact, coping mechanisms serve invaluable purposes for us.

How Can That Be?

Our brains are forever trying to get our needs met, whether we’re aware of those needs or not.

So, if we don’t find healthy, compassionate strategies to meet our needs, our brains will continue to reroute us to the coping mechanisms we’ve picked up along the way.

This means that willpower alone will never be enough to kick a bad habit!

Step #1 to Understanding Your Vices: Awareness

The first step is to bring awareness to this area so you can practice being curious rather than judging yourself (which pushes you toward your vices with even greater force).

There is an excellent reason you feel drawn to your compulsions, and it’s not because you’re bad, defective, or weak in some way.

It’s because your brain is trying to meet a legitimate need.

So, begin by noticing how you feel before you engage in one of your vices and what has happened that day to make you feel like that.

Step #2 to Understanding Your Vices: Find the Root

If you’re still reading this, we can say with a reasonable amount of certainty that whatever your vices are, they’re not doing a perfect job at meeting your needs.

And that’s because it’s hard to get enough of something that ALMOST works.

 

So, ask yourself, “what positive intention does this coping mechanism have for me?”

Does it help you drown out a tyrannical Inner Critic?

Does it help you feel safe?

Does it bring you comfort?

Does it numb a painful emotional state?

Finding the need the vice is trying to meet will allow you to zero in on what the real problem actually is.

Optional Step #3 to Understanding Your Vices: Get Some Freaking Help! =)

 

Some vices have an easy fix.

Maybe we realize our endless scrolling on social media is actually a bid for emotional connection, so we start to seek more quality time from our loved ones and our screen time goes down as a result. Great!

But for deeply entrenched compulsions we’ve had for decades, it may not be so simple.

Example: Maggie finds herself binging on sweets 2-3 nights a week.

So, she employs step 1) by looking deeply into her emotional state before she heads to the fridge (rather than dissociating so she can pretend she’s not really doing this),

Next, she follows step 2 by asking herself, “what does this trip to the fridge really want for me?”


Maybe nothing comes to mind the first several times she asks this and the pattern continues for a while.

But after a few weeks of awareness and curiosity, Maggie finds that the compulsion for sweets late at night happens because she chronically feels alone, scared, and unworthy of love.


And the only thing that seems to quiet the loneliness, fear, and shame is food
.

This would be quite a feat for Maggie to conquer on her own, and what she would likely benefit from most is a loving guide in the form of a therapist, coach, or some other kind of professional support.

 

Summing Up

Ultimately, you are the highest, most powerful authority on what you need.

So, whatever it looks like for you to be compassionate and kind to yourself, my hope is that you will go after it with the same abandon you would on someone else’s behalf.

 

You deserve it!

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