A Magical Way to Work with Our Habitual Patterns : zen habits


“You have Within you more love than you could ever understand.” ~Rumi

By Leo Babauta

Every day, I work with people trying to shift their habitual patterns: procrastination, avoidance, escape, reaching for comfort foods or other comforts like video games or watching videos, distraction, complaining, lashing out at others, ignoring problems, and more.

These habitual patterns show themselves whenever we’re in uncertainty — which turns out to be most of the time. So we’re in the uncertainty of our meaningful work, let’s say … and here’s our old habitual pattern.

The usual way of dealing with the pattern is harshness: I don’t like that I procrastinate, I need to do better, this is a failing of mine, it’s such a harmful pattern, I’m screwing everything up so badly.

In other words, we use the pattern in the same way we use everything else — another way to beat ourselves up. Yet more evidence that something is wrong with us. That in itself is a habitual pattern, by the way.

I have a different way of dealing with habitual patterns, and I find it to be magical: treat it as if it’s a friendly protective guardian.

Let me explain … let’s imagine that our habitual pattern is a small, cute, but fierce protective guardian diety. It might look like one of these guardians:

This habitual pattern is a guardian you created to protect yourself, probably sometime when you were young. Maybe you needed the protection at the time — it was necessary and powerful. It saved you from something scary, harmful. It was a loving creation and it did its job well.

Of course, over the years, you’ve still been reaching for this guardian, over and over, and it’s not serving you anymore. In fact, it’s getting in your way. It’s still fierce and protective, but you don’t need it.

Let me repeat that: you don’t need its protection anymore. You are much stronger, more capable, more resilient. You can deal with any perceived threat — failure, falling on your face, screwing up, not knowing how to do something, rejection. You are resilient and strong.

So with that knowledge, here’s how you might deal with your little lovable protective guardian diety:

Recognize your guardian diety as something that has served you with ferocity and love over the years. Thank your diety for its service.

Tell it that you don’t need it anymore. That you are more powerful now, and can handle this. “I got this.”

Set it aside, to be called upon if you ever do need it again.

Now take on the world, armed with your own power. Don’t run, avoid, escape, complain, lash out or seek distraction or comfort … but instead take on the thing you fear. Powerfully. Armed with your magical heart. Driven by your love for those who you serve.

If you’d like to train in this kind of fearlessness and purpose, check out my latest creation:

The Fearless Purpose Training Package: A System for the Uncertainty of Your Meaningful Work



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