Living out of intent rather than habit is the goal. Living with conscious intent will benefit our lives in many ways. But, to do this we need to deal with any bad habits. We can do this with the right tools.
In order to begin living out of intent, we need to know of the source of our habitual patterns. It means dealing with the full range of our awareness. Intent requires deliberate conscious action while habit comes from unconscious patterns. So, how deal with this?
What Comes First, the Chicken or the Egg
So, what do you deal with first, intent or habit? The tendency is to start with intention. It’s common for people to use affirmations to bolster their intent. The idea is to overlay positive thoughts to cancel out bad habits. Unfortunately, affirmations do not remove the underlying habit. And, they do not cancel out the power of this unconscious programming. This is the reason practicing affirmations does not work. As a result, it’s important to deal with the source of the bad habit first. Above all, it’s the only way to sustain any real progress.
Habits are Just Like Knots in a Rope
Proper body mechanics are automatic behavioral patterns which are the foundation of high performance. Athletes often use a two-step technique repetitive to learn and reinforce optimal motion. First, they practice the correct motion in their mind. They picture the right behavior which leads to success. Then they practice the motion physically. This two-step process works to learn or reinforce the behavior. However, if they have a bad habit to overcome repetition alone rarely changes the underlying habit. So, when under the stress of competition, the bad habit returns.
The above example underscores the reason we need to deal with the underlying habit first. Just practicing the right motion does not erase the underlying, often stronger habit. The longer the bad habit has been in force the harder they are to change.
A habit is like an addiction. Long-standing habitual patterns are difficult to change and impossible to cover up. This is the reason affirmations may not work. Using affirmations in an attempt to change long-standing habitual patterns is like putting a band-aid on a broken arm.
Dealing with Habitual Patterns
To begin living out of intent, we need to deal with our habitual thinking patterns. This is hard “inner work”. It’s like untangling a knot. If there’s a knot in a rope and you pull on the rope, the knot becomes harder to untangle. What we need to do is learn how to untie the knots common to our psyche.
In this analogy, the habit is the knot. The habit is the “thing” that’s causing the knot. Pulling on a rope with a knot makes the knot harder to untie. An affirmation works like pulling on the rope. It doesn’t remove the knot. Most of the time it makes the knot harder to untie. So, we don’t want to use force. First, we need to find the knot. The knot, the bad habit is sometimes not clear. Remember habit comes from something unconscious. So, we need tools to illuminate the knot. Here are the tools which can help us to this.
First, The Enneagram
The Enneagram Personality Profile can find the patterns common to our personality and instincts. These generalized types are often very accurate in predicting the content of habitual patterns of thought. This is an excellent tool to identify our common habitual patterns. This is because personality types share the same blind spots and thought patterns.
One of the tools we use along with the Enneagram is an exercise known as the Repeating Question. This works best with two people. However, it’s possible to do it on your own. In this case, you’ll need to write down or record all your responses. It’s best to work with a partner who will ask the repeating question. This exercise gets beyond the superficial answers. For more details about this exercise see our article on The power of memories — tools for positive change.
If you learn about the triggers of your habitual nature, you can use them to your benefit. Instead of being ruled by your nature, you use its power to achieve positive things. Building good habits from your habitual nature is a practical approach for another time.
Second, Guided Meditation
Guided meditation is really a rebranding of the Shamanic Journey. As a result, when this process is done correctly it becomes a doorway to another level of consciousness. You can learn more about this process on the article guided meditation— rebranding the Shamanic Journey. This process will enable you to see the cause of the habitual pattern. A skilled guide can help you with this, but you can also undertake this journey on your own. With the knowledge of the Enneagram and power of this inward quest, you can untie the knots. You may need to return several times because these patterns can be stubborn. Regular use of this process will help you to identify and untie the knots which give power to habitual patterns.
Three, Mindfulness Meditation
The practice of mindfulness meditation techniques brings our awareness online with our intent. It’s important to realize intention requires attention. Intention like a garden. You need your intent to use almost all forms of meditation. See the link here to learn both the seated and moving forms of mindfulness meditation. To prepare your mind for mindfulness it’s important to tend to the garden of your intention. Read more about the garden of your mind at this link.
The Results of Living out of Intent
You’ll find living out of intent is much easier once you deal with the habitual patterns that block your way. In fact, it’s common for people to discover that many things in life become easier. It’s the real magic that puts us back in better control. Living with a conscious purpose is our natural state of awareness. It enables us to be present, living in the moment because we are living out of intent. In turn, this has a positive effect on our overall health and wellness. We are better able to handle stressful situations. Our inner work will also progress, affirmations return gains, mantras and sutras also become more natural and effortless.
Living out of intent rather than habit will benefit our overall health and wellness. But, to do this we need to deal with our habitual patterns. Now you have the tools to deal with this.
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