It’s summertime and for many that means fun, food, and festivities. Whether you’re heading to Bali or to the bar (sand or sports), it’s also time to also keep an eye out for your beach brat.
Trust me. You’ll thank me next time you eye a miraclesuit and consider buying one (were it not for the name).
Long-time readers of this blog know that the “brat” is the name we give the voice in your head that sounds very much like a tantruming four-year old. It’s the one that self-soothes and advises you to have that second margarita, watch just one more episode (at 2 AM), and, of course, skip the gym (its favorite activity).. [Not to be confused with skipping rope.]
Because after all, you are on vacation.
Summertime is a perfect time to turn up the heat on the brat. Why? Because the brat is a big fan of your vices. And for most of us, vacation is a perfect time to indulge just a little more than we usually do.
What, me? You might be asking. What vices?
You know, the thing you shouldn’t be doing, but still are. The thing you wish would go away but persists and haunts you. It follows you around and sneaks up on you when you least expect it. Or, rather, when you most expect it – when you’re busy running around, or dealing with extenuating circumstances, or just plain neglecting your promises to your (better) self. Your vice comes a-knocking! Overeating, smoking and drinking, nail-biting, overspending … we all have a dark side and it shows up through our vices.
Why not use the sun this summer to shine a light on ‘em.
Because when you let your vice run rampant in your life, it continues to haunt you. It keeps you stuck, feeling guilty and powerless. Most people believe their personalities are fixed and that change is impossible. They say things to themselves like, “I’m just not disciplined enough,” or “I could never do that,” or or “My mother was always big boned too so I might as well face the facts and the Friendly’s fribble” (do you remember those?). Your brat will sell you on the idea that you can “never do that.”
The real answer is “of course you can.” Of course you can set limits and boundaries (some tighter than others). Other people have. You can too. The question is just, will you? Your dark side, which enables the vice, will answer the same way every time. No, you can’t do it. It’s too hard. It doesn’t matter. You’re screwed. The dark side is convincing you to keep the vice and stay small in your life, instead of tackling solutions to the real problems. Your vice is a big diversion from what you’re really here to do: live a fulfilled and happy life.
What are you doing excessively in your life that you know is bad for you? Is it alcohol? Sweets? Pot-smoking? We all have a dark side and it shows up through our vices. What vice is your little voice talking to you about right now? That is the vice you should consider taking down today. I’m going to show you how to get out of “purgatory,” where your vice keeps you. Here are six basic steps for releasing your vice’s grip on you!
1) Own Your Vice
The first step to quitting a vice is to own it, say it, admit it. “I like sweets now and again but lately, it’s been more like, again and again.” Now, owning a vice is an art. Usually you don’t hear people cut directly to the truth and say, “This is what sucks about me and I want to do something about it.” Instead, people keep their vices hidden. Why? Why do you hide your dark side?
Your dark side has an agenda: it doesn’t want to give up your vice. You have figured out a way to accommodate the vice and live with it, even though you know it’s bad for you and you wouldn’t prescribe it to anyone else. You wouldn’t teach it to your children, why do you want to do it?
2) Choose a Life Without Your Vice
If you really want to take down a vice, you must want a life without it. It’s important to understand that there is a “purgatory” that happens when you keep a vice around. When I say purgatory, I am referring to the suffering that occurs in the areas where you are spiritually and physically stuck. If you keep the cigarettes, there are things that you’ll have to give up in life. The vice is robbing you of aspects of life that you don’t even realize.
3) Describe the Impact of Your Vice
Once you have chosen a life without your vice, it’s important to bring a new perspective to it. Quit defending the vice. Instead, capture how it has been impacting your life. Describe your purgatory. The more lighthearted you can be about it, the quicker the vice will release its grip.
Yours might sound something like these:
* I pick potato chips over love.
* I pick TV over intimacy.
* I choose the Internet over friendship.
Be brutally honest. Give it a funny name! This will take away the guilt, drama and shame surrounding your vice. When you tell the truth about your vice, it diminishes the “vice grip.” It also clarifies what you may be avoiding in your life.
4) Make Promises to Do Something About It
When tackling a vice, there are two options: choose it or lose it. If you choose to keep the vice, then you give up the right to bitch about it (or its impacts) to anyone. No more drama. No whining or complaining about it. Instead of saying, “Oh I’ve tried to quit smoking so many times, it’s so hard,” you have to be able to say, “Okay, I am not quitting and I am giving myself cancer.” But remember you are stuck in your own spiritual purgatory until you take down the vice.
My recommendation is to lose the vice. Make a promise to stop doing it or set strict rules around it. Mean it, write out the promise and read it every day. Create your life without that vice or keep it on a tight leash.
5) Create Consequences to Keep Your Promises
The best way to keep a promise is to put in a consequence whenever you break that promise. For example, if you smoke a cigarette, you pay $10 to a friend or do an extra workout the next morning. If you cheat on your diet, you lose your wine on Friday night. Choose a consequence that works for you. The right consequence will keep you from breaking your promise.
6) Tell Your Friends
It’s important to tell everyone you know about your vice. This will help you establish a support system. It will also make you accountable to others about no longer engaging in your vice. Going public in your circle of friends makes it real, because you can’t hide from it anymore. Tell everyone you’ve quit smoking. Go on a diet and tell them about it. Confess about needing to curb your Internet use. Telling everyone your promised actions AND your consequences helps cement your plan and keep you on it.
Remember, you kept the vice around because it felt good. You got to avoid feeling fear, avoid the challenge, avoid rejection, and avoid feeling your heart. For it, you sacrificed pride and your own spiritual evolution. In short, keeping your vice around will never make you deeply happy. You will always feel like you’re in some type of purgatory, with your dark side calling the shots (tequila!). Now, we’d like to help you come out into the light. Isn’t that what summer’s for?
P.S.- Change can be hard. But once you imagine that a better, vice-free life is possible for you, you can’t un-imagine it. Get your mind under new management with me in Inner.U, my new digital coaching course. I’ll teach you how to stop the cycle of negative thinking that can perpetuate your vice and get you to gain a deep sense of self-control and achieve your goals. Join our community today!
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