The Buddha made a decision: He sat down under the Banyan tree and said he would not get up until he became Enlightened.
If you’re not able to follow through on a change, it’s because part of you really does not want to do it.
Talk to that part. Figure it out.
What do you think you’re going to lose through this decision?
For example, in my donut addiction, I feel like:
- having a donut is an indulgence
- I deserve to have a donut
- having a donut will make me feel good (this is always untrue; I feel like crap after I eat a donut)
I either choose to have a donut because I have been trained to see it as a reward or an indulgence, OR (more often) because I feel like crap in some way — due to a series of poor choices in the moments leading up to this — and I have a false certainty that a donut will make me feel better. Using it as unkind medicine.
Or, it’s part of my pattern.
When I drive past the donut shop, if 9 times out of 10 I have veered over to the right to park, then that’s the pattern I’ve established. Go this route, drive down this street, and a donut occurs. This can be more insidious because then I think I want a donut when really I’m just Pavloving. It’s my conditioned response to get a donut.
The ego will win because a) it lies to get what it wants, and b) you’re willing to believe those lies
Everything the ego promises has a kernel of truth but it’s wrapped in illusion.
To DECIDE is the ultimate statement that you are important. Sublty or unsubtly, you’re saying you’re going to do what’s good, right, healthy, and powerful for yourself. You’re saying that you’re not going to let the ego win.
Every thought word and action increases or decreases your energy
for the most debilitating patterns, I have found that I need to let myself sink to a certain depth, to get to a bottom of some sort — yes, just like they talk about with addiction (after all, ALL of these things are at the root about addiction to ego, identity, and comfort) — before I am ready to DECIDE.
Then the first few opportunities to be swayed I have that resonant decision. A true decision reverberates, and the next time temptation comes up or I am headed into a circumstance where I am at risk to indulge in my habit, I’ll usually waver but will not be shaken. I may not WANT to do the right thing but I’ll be able to do it, as I am still in the force of the recent decision.
Those moments are key but they’re actually easier than they might seem.
Once you’ve DECIDED then you’re good for awhile. You get a mini-reprieve. You’ll still be tempted and swayed but you won’t succumb.
What needs to happen in the days and even the hours following the DECISION though is to implement other good-for-me actions to start building my energy again.
These things are incredibly synergistic.
Once I’ve DECIDED to drop donuts, then I need to re-vitalize some other important positive habit in my life that I’ve been consistent on but haven’t been maximizing.
For example, I am a regular exerciser, not because I enjoy it but because it’s part of my spiritual practice. If my teacher had not emphasized exercise so much when I began meditating 25 years ago, there’s no way I would be exercising today. The longest I’ve gone with no exercise in my entire adult life is something like 10 days. There have been phases where exercise has been primary, where I work out every single day, and do major training for a goal on the weekends. Mostly though, exercise is something I’m much more casual about. If I go too long without it, I really feel the negative effects, and that alone is enough to keep me doing it even if I’m not terribly excited about it at the time.
So I know I’m an exerciser. I can count on myself for that.
When I DECIDE to drop donuts, then if I also up my exercise habit, it’s gonna make everything easier.
This combo is obvious. Exercise increases all the happy endorphins that a shot of donut artificially spurts in, though in much healthier and less dangerous ways. The more happy endorphins that are cruising through my system, then by definition, I’m feeling less pain. Exercise therefore cuts off one whole avenue for the ego to influence me. If I’m not feeling bad, then I don’t need to use donuts for the purpose of feeling better. I’m still at risk to the ego’s trick of tempting me into a donut because I deserve it — especially if I’ve been an exercising fiend for awhile!! But having one fewer route to destruction can save me from myself at least part of the time.
So the endorphins make me feel good, and then I don’t need a donut to do it.
The other critical benefit to exercise though: Finishing a workout increases the ability to deal.
Halfway through every workout — sometimes in the first five minutes — I start having disgruntled thoughts about how hard it is and I don’t want to do this and ugh. Pushing through those thoughts and sticking with the workout till the end increases my ability to be uncomfortable.
This again is immediately powerful protection against the ego’s devices.
So now I’ve got:
- A self-generated supply of the feel-goods — the endorphins from my workout that buffer me from pain
- An increase in the muscle of yes-it-sucks-but-I-can-do-this — this may perhaps be called “will power” or it’s simply grit
So I made a decision unrelated to working out, and my working out — the habit that I’ve established through a long life of doing it even when I didn’t want to — gives me massive advantage in supporting that decision.
This make a decision thing is really key. You ALWAYS have the ability to make a decision. It’s often where the battle is won or lost – and eventually, you will be graced with the decision to surrender and stop fighting.
And that’s where life really begins.