Humans are social creatures.
Even the most hermit-leaning individuals among us have cravings for connectivity. And, yet, when it comes to fighting issues of habit, we tend to think of ourselves as the last lone wolf – a one man squadron, a lone crusader, the sole defender of integrity fighting valiantly against all odds! Etcetera and so forth. The problem with this mindset is that fighting habits by ourselves is doomed for failure.
Habits are, by and large, solo endeavors and because of this, I think it is easy to believe in the mantra, “I got myself into this, so I can get myself out of it.” The reality, though, is that the brain, once entrenched in a habit, will fight really hard to keep that habit. And, pretty soon, what we find out is that the brain is a sneaky little bugger, sometimes.
The brain begins feeding us little lies like, “You’re making life needlessly miserable,” or “I’ve been good for a long time, so I deserve a reward,” or the really tricky one, “I’m cured.” All of these thoughts are seeds the brain wants to plant so that we might give in and plug back in to our old habit – and the brain can get the pleasure reward it so badly thinks it wants. It is this inability to escape from the trickeries of our very own brain that makes quitting habits by ourselves a disgustingly difficult task.
Another reason quitting habits on our own can seem like trying to ski uphill is the burden it places on a person’s mental capacity. Daily fighting a habit by ourself means that we bear the burdens of guilt because of our past, struggles of the present, and fear over the future. The mental wear is strenuous and likely will result in slipping back into the habit just to escape the mental sack of bricks. The sad reality of trying to fight a battle in secret is that secrecy feeds upon itself – and thus, we find ourselves starved, exhausted and, eventually, defeated.
So, if a habit has got us by the throat and we’ve exhausted our attempts to defeat it by ourselves, what is the answer?
The answer is to realize that we’re humans and we need help. We need someone to answer to, someone to hold our hand, someone to help us up when we fall, and someone to kick our butt when we get lazy. The mental freedom of coming out in the open with a habit is like a fresh lease on life. When we open up to someone else and let them fight the fight with us, we find freedom in our minds and that is power that cant be measured.
Opening up to another person, connecting with them like humans were meant to do – this frees us from the aggravation of being tricked by our own brain. It’s an odd thing that our brain can trick us, but it is completely powerless over a good accountability partner. Odd, yes – but beautiful if we can recognize this and utilize it for our own betterment. The right accountability partner has to want us to succeed as badly as we, ourselves, want to succeed. Together, then, the fight can be bearable, sustainable, and winnable.
Many habits are formed in secret, but that doesn’t mean they should be fought in secret. Secrecy is right where habits want us to stay – it’s where they rule the roost, and we’re powerless to change our fortunes. But, success lies in numbers. When we let others join in our fight, we gain strength, we gain weapons, and we gain hope. Choose hope.